coaching for sustainable change
Coaching For Sustainable Change
Coaching is one of, if not THE, most important things any leader can do. Our ability as leaders to develop and prepare the next generation of leaders is dependent upon providing feedback and guiding them to making sustainable improvements. Doing so requires us to leverage a multitude of behaviors as coaches, including, but not limited to, listening, empathizing, motivating, and being direct.
At its core, coaching for sustainable behavior change is a process of guiding someone to self-discovery and helping them uncover solutions on their own. This starts with understanding and gaining their perspectives on the situations they are dealing with. This requires coaches to ask the right questions and truly listen to understand, rather than listening to judge. Once the situation has been laid out, a strong coach will empathize with the challenges, even if we do not agree with the way they have been handled.
Now that we understand where the participant is coming from, it is best to start at the end. Again, employing high-impact questions is critical in understanding what success will look like and what level of commitment the individual is willing to make. By defining successful outcomes up front, we can create a clear picture of where the individual wants to go and start to explore new ways to get there. Further, this is an opportunity to help participants understand “The Why” behind the changes they need to make and how they will ultimately benefit them. At this point, it is important to understand what the individual has already tried, and whether or not they are open to trying something different.
From here, as a coach, it is a balance between making recommendations and asking questions that will allow individuals to uncover new approaches on their own. Of course, change is harder for some than others, so coaches should be prepared to push back when necessary if the participant seems unwilling to make changes. Further, an effective coach will motivate an individual to take the risk of trying new approaches by building their confidence and helping them stay the course when change becomes more difficult. It can also be helpful to explore anticipated obstacles that may get in the way of progress. Doing so allows for additional contingency planning so the participant is prepared to work through setbacks and complete the goals.
Finally, sustainable behavior change is likely to come only when there is a continued long-term focus on doing things differently. To do this, coaches should meet regularly with individuals and ask for updates related to the improvements they want to see. Identifying small wins and other gains that are a result of changed behavior will allow the participant to see the value and likely motivate them to build on the momentum. Taken together, following this process will help participants create new habits which then become the foundation for the sustainable change we want them to achieve.