Imagine being like an elite athlete and turning up to work every day knowing that your job is to make the most of having a coach working with you. That coach is there, every day focused mainly on helping you improve everything to do with your performance.
Those who excel are ready to get the most from their coach’s expertise and know they need to be an active participant in the design and execution of the training programme and process.
We’ve seen many times in sport where the relationship between coach and player or coach and team actually becomes a critical part of the performance recipe. Knowing the quality of the working relationship actually adds value in the heat of competition. It creates an extra layer of confidence that can make a critical difference when it matters most.
Given many organisations are now making business coaching programmes available, it’s worth being like the best athletes and know how to make the most of this key support.
So, having coached a lot of people in the business world, and the sporting world over the last 20 years, here’s the three most important things to make the most of any coaching you get:
1. Coaching is a collaboration
As the introduction suggests, your mindset about the role you play when working with a coach is key.
There are four recognised mindsets when it comes to coaching:
Mindset 1 – The Passenger
Imagine a sales person who has a coaching session and goes into the session simply expecting the coach to transport them to a destination of brilliant results. This sales person isn’t ready to contribute to the conversation. They’re seeing the coaching session as a vehicle and they’re simply a passive passenger wanting a nice easy ride to the kind of performance that the coach has in store for them.
Mindset 2 – The Navigator
A slight improvement here. Going into the coaching session, this kind of person tells the coach where they want to end up as a result of the coaching relationship or sessions. They then expect the coach to do the majority of the work in plotting the route and showing them ‘the way’.
Mindset 3 – The Driver
In this case, the performer is really clear where they’re going, how they’re going to get there and they’re crystal clear on telling the coach what they need from them. A driven performer, who’s not focused on engaging the expertise and experience of the coach. They’re more interested in demonstrating to the coach that they’re already a really good performer.
Mindset 4 – The Co-Driver
In this case, the performer is going into the coaching session or relationship with a desire to work collaboratively to determine a great place to end up. They focus on always working with their coach to understand existing foundations and share expertise, support and challenge to take the best possible next step. This is a partnership, where there’s a real sense of collaboration for the journey and the end destination. Knowing you’re going to need to drive, as well as be driven, is a vital mindset to set off with.
Recognize yourself in these descriptions?
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You should aim to become the Co-Driver as it really sets you up to make the most of coaching.
2. Feedforward rules!
In sport, coaches and athletes usually have really important milestones to work towards. Whether that’s Olympic qualification or a key tournament in the future, the shared approach at any point in time along the way is focused on; a. The standard that will be needed in order to be ultimately successful, b. How the current standard compares to the standard being aimed for, c. What the right next step is for getting closer to the required standard.
The conversations are mainly focused on ‘this is where we are compared to where we need to be, so let’s focus this week on making x and y better’.
Feedforward is all about systematically growing your ability in the most relevant way possible, and you get regular confidence building reminders of what you’ve achieved so far. To make the most of coaching, be ready to get better at improving future performance in the most relevant way.
3. Coaching as if the scoreboard doesn’t matter
If you’re a Co-Driver and focused on using the power of ‘feedforward’, then the last recommendation is easy.
Imagine a situation where a sales person has just delivered their biggest ever deal and they’re talking excitedly with their coach about how their performance could have been even better, even though the scoreboard is showing a great win, and the coach is excited to build on this success to capture important learning that will keep progress happening.
Great performers and coaches are always inspired by ‘how good can we be?’, so their coaching emphasis doesn’t change based upon the level of disappointment or delight with a specific result.
When you’re ready to work with your coach to always identify the next opportunity for growth, whatever the result, you’re ready to make the most of a key relationship in your world of business performance, where there is no finish line.