“Coaching done well may by the most effective intervention designed for human performance.”
– Atul Gawande MD
Writing for The New Yorker a few years ago, Dr. Gawande makes a strong case for coaching as the best way for any professional to achieve peak performance.
After all, can you imagine an athlete winning Olympic gold without a coach? Why should it be any different for the medical profession? Or yours for that matter.
So what does “coaching done well” look like?
For me, it begins and ends with one thing: Raising awareness.
I believe the most effective route to personal growth is through increased awareness about:
1. Who (and where) you are right now
2. What drives (and blocks) you
3. How you interact with others & your environment
Once you understand yourself, including your blind spots, only then can you take deliberate action for real lasting change. Without access to your true self, warts and all, you’ll never achieve your full potential.
I feel so strongly about it, in fact, that I see it as both the primary method and goal of coaching (done well).
This wasn’t always the case. About ten years ago I wanted to learn more about myself so I took the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). One thing that came out in one of the reports was my clear preference for harmony.
As a coach and facilitator, one of the constant realities of my job is conflict. Conflict in the form of a roadblock in a team that wishes to increase trust, but needs to first address an underlying issue. Or, resistance in a coaching client that wishes to change a pattern but isn’t ready to look at the real situation.
However, for me to be effective in my job, there are times when I need to challenge a team or individual to address the conflict.
With a strong preference for harmony, this is not easy. In fact, it can be very uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, to be effective in my job I’ve had to reconcile these two polarities.
Ten years on, do you think my preference has changed?
No. But, what has changed is my awareness of this paradox, and what it means to my professional reality. This was the first and most important step to resolution.
Why Raising Awareness Is Key
Here are 3 specific ways that increased awareness helps you effectively lead yourself and others:
1. Making better decisions
I believe that the primary objective of most every coaching exchange should be to help you raise awareness about where you are right now and how you wish to move forward. This includes looking at obstacles that are holding you back and other blind spots you are unaware of.
By getting a clear picture of your roadblocks and potential pitfalls, you can make unbiased and better decisions.
Actionable tip –
Take a personality inventory like the MBTI to get to know yourself better, especially your current roadblocks and potential pitfalls!
2. Developing others:
If you’d like someone to develop a specific skill, for example, ask them first what skill or area they think they need to develop – before telling them what you think!
By having an open two-way feedback exchange, you help them raise awareness about their development needs.
By asking questions instead of giving orders, they’ll be much more open to what you have to say.
Actionable tip –
If you have different opinions regarding what they need to develop, you can still co-create a development plan with them. This will ensure that they have at least partial ownership – a key ingredient for both engagement and motivation.
3. Solving problems
By recognizing a complex issue as a polarity to manage rather than as a problem to be solved, you open the door to the possibility of resolution.
Raising your awareness to those complexities and the common interests of the key players puts the focus on your common goal of resolution and takes if off your differences.
I told you about the polarities of harmony and conflict inside me that I had to resolve.
What are two forces inside you that need balancing?
Take Action Now
Increased awareness leads to action with a clear intention – deliberate action that’s connected to your key goals and priorities. It also leads to previously hidden options and clears the way for positive change to emerge. Next step, Peak Performance.
That’s right –
- Previously unknown options become visible.
- More options lead to more effective action.
Coming from a place of increased clarity and heightened awareness, you “feel energized, connected and in the flow”. This is exactly what you need to feel and perform at your best.
If you’d like some direct advice on how to raise your awareness, let me help you create the Roadmap – click to schedule Free Strategy Call