Far from simply having an innate knack for getting the best out of others, coaches use various tools and techniques to help their clients. Here, five of the best.
- To help their clients, coaches draw on a number of tools and techniques, some more conventional than others
- Innovative tools include the “Three Cs” coaching model and the decisions-enhancing Implications Wheel
- Other powerful coaching approaches focus on defining values and uncovering unconscious biases, as well as on reframing one’s priorities
Great coaching goes beyond the ability to ask the right questions. Capable coaches are not only good listeners, they are also good strategists and people with a vision who use their skills and knowledge to help customers realise their true potential.
However, far from possessing an innate knack for getting the best out of others, coaches employ a number of tools and techniques to help their clients understand themselves, define their goals, identify their obstacles, and find ways to overcome them.
Here, five of the most innovative:
1. The Three Cs to Success
Clarity, confidence and commitment. These are what are being referred to in the so-called ‘three C’ coaching system. Business coaches who draw on this model begin by helping their clients clarify their unique talents, and the best use thereof – the business problems in other words, that they are specifically equipped and qualified to solve. And then to identify organisations that have these problems. This is because hiring decision-makers are really looking for only three things: minimal risk, a good fit, and results.
Having helped their clients to identify their unique assets and clarify their “best-fit” options, coaches practicing this technique assist coachees in undercovering the specific emotions that erode or destroy their confidence. Inevitably, fear is a major player here. The acronym for fear – False Evidence Appearing Real – crops up frequently, as do two questions: What’s the worst that could happen? How likely is it to happen, really?
Commitment is the the last of the three Cs and here coaches stress the importance of self-engagement. Commitment, they say, is entirely about keeping one’s promises to oneself. They encourage their clients to identify their current levels of commitment and then to ask: “If I was truly committed to this achievement, what would that look like?”. And finally, “What’s the difference?” For, in the words of author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude”.
2. The Unpacking-Priorities Approach
Coaches and productivity experts have developed charts, graphs, and matrices to help their clients plan and prioritise. But, say the professionals who punt this coaching technique, prioritisation shouldn’t be so complicated! Instead of focussing on lists and deadlines, they insist, clients should address pressure from the standpoint of what matters most to the client (motivation) versus what matters to others (pressure/stress).
This re-framing often illuminates new opportunities to delegate, reposition or rethink current allocations of time and resources, increasing the margin for personal growth and goal attainment. Such coaches encourage their clients to start by thinking about what they’re doing, and why. Then they emphasise the importance of evaluating one’s tasks in the context of these goals. Once goals become the common decision-making framework for one’s actions, it will probably become completely reasonable to say, “This is a great idea, but isn’t a priority for this time period. I’ll save it for later when I am focussed on that goal.”
3. The Core Values Anchor
We all know that our beliefs and values define who we are and how we live our lives. Some of these values are more inaccessible, or deeply ingrained than others. Values-focussed coaches assist their clients to uncover the “sets of laws” they are living by – and that, however unconsciously, are influencing the decisions they make.
In order to do this, these coaches have their clients think about what they value most in a particular life area. This list of personal core values – be it family, freedom, health, service, success – becomes an anchor or returning point. Coaches then help the client understand that, when there is conflict or a boundary issue, it’s likely because someone has stepped on a personal value. Grasping that unrest or distrust often stem from this place of misunderstanding is a powerful tool for connection and greater empathy among people.
4. The Bias Discovery Tool
Neuroscience research has begun to “connect the dots” on how the brain works and how brain functioning supports both conscious and unconscious thought processes. With this newfound knowledge, we are beginning to understand the power of unconscious bias and its impact on behaviour, decision-making and interpersonal dynamics.
Coaches who use the “bias discovery” tool focus on identifying and working on the gap between a client’s intentions and their actual behaviour. They help them to identify when unconscious biases can be useful and when they are counter-productive, for, indeed, embedded beliefs frequently inhibit self-confidence, belief systems, and, ultimately, personal transformation. They then support clients in overcoming their biases by reframing and rewiring their conditioned patterns of behaviour so that they eventually operate from a position of greater consciousness.
5. The Implications Wheel
A decision-enhancing tool developed in the 1970s by futurist Joel Barker, the Implications Wheel enables leaders and decision-makers to identify, reliably and quickly, the potential future risks and opportunities associated with high stakes decisions.
How does it work? The process used to create a wheel goes through four primary stages. First, the centre of the wheel is drafted, giving a description of the issue, trend, goal or change in question. Next, a group of stakeholders or executives is brought together and presented the centre description. The group identifies the first-order events, or things that might happen if the centre event occurs. Thereafter the remaining spokes on the wheel are fleshed out – the second, third and fourth-order events, or the things that might happen if the preceding first-order events occur. Finally, the participants rate the likelihood and desirability of each implication happening.
Used extensively by business coaches as a tool for everything from conflict clarification and quality improvement, to team building, testing new innovations, teaching and research, the Implications Wheel can be used for predicting the implications of practically any event that can have an impact on the future.
If coaching is a career you’re thinking about, why not consider studying at SACAP? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of accredited coaching courses, from a part-time Coach Practitioner Programme to a Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching. For more information, enquire now.