What makes a good coach?

In his excellent book The Little Book of Big Coaching Models, Bob Bates draws some important distinctions between different roles using a ‘learning to drive’ analogy.

He says that a

  • consultant will advise you on the most appropriate car to drive
  • counsellor will adress any anxieties you may have about driving
  • mentor will share their own driving experiences with you
  • coach will encourage you to get in and drive the car correctly

Coaches focus more on getting people to develop specific skills and coaching is very much a ‘pragmatic trade’.

Bob Bates uses the COACHING acronym to get at the nitty-gritty of coaching and what is involved. The 8 elements are as follows:

Clarify the role: find out who does what, when, where and how.

Organise goals and objectives: get those you are working with to create a vision about what they could be and set goals that will support them get there

Act with conviction: don’t dilly-dally but choose the most appropriate coaching method and follow through with commitment and conviction

Confirm that expectations are being met: get feedback on the process and be prepared to edit accordingly

Have a strategy for dealing with setbacks: accept that things won’t run smoothly and have strategies for dealing with them

Inspire creative thinking: encouarge your coachee to be constantly thinking outside the boxes

Never be afraid of failure: if someone fails a task, they have failed the task – they themselves are not a failure

Get to know the person you are coaching: relationships count for everything so build the coach-coachee relationship and establish trust and respect

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