You Can Guide But You Can’t Decide

You Can Guide but You Can’t Decide

If you come from a traditional background of coaching and using the coaching basics, you will likely see your role as telling people what they should or perhaps shouldn’t do. This style of leadership is OK in the military where you need the leader to stipulate exactly what is going to happen and then everyone follows these directions. In a coaching/counselling session however this style of leadership is ineffective. You may get some initial buy in, but this will very quickly wear off.

If you are coaching and mentoring individuals, you need to adopt a more collaborative approach. You can think of styles of coaching as existing on a scale. At one end of the scale is the type of coaching I talked about at the start. The coach tells you what to do and you follow these instructions. This is a directing style of coaching. At the other end of the spectrum is a following style of coaching. In this scenario everything is very much client led. The client says I’d prefer to do A – B – C and the coach agrees.

Somewhere in between these two styles is the sweet spot and this is where you want to be. This is a guiding style. In motivational interviewing we talk about coming alongside the client. You listen to what they need and then offer some advice/information (with permission) as to what you think may work best. The client ultimately decides what path they will take and will hopefully take on board the information/advice you have offered.

It is a bit like being a tour guide. You turn up for your holiday and want to see various sights. You meet your guide and tell them what you would like to see. They then offer their expertise in terms of travelling time, distance between the sights and the best order to see them, as some sights may have aspects that are relevant to the other sights and so will make the tour more enjoyable and informative. You are happy to go along with this as you are seeing everything you asked to see and at the same time will get the most from the experience.

Fitness, nutrition health are all similar. You will have certain expectations for all of these when you employ a coach/trainer. You tell the coach what you want to achieve and then the coach offers you a number of scenarios whereby you can achieve your goals. You will then select the programme that sounds like it suits you best. The coach has given you input, and advice, and you feel involved as you ultimately made the choice as to which route to travel.

That said, there will be roadblocks and diversions on this journey. A good coach will adopt a guiding style and help you navigate your way around these, so you remain on target to reach your final destination. As a coach if you are respecting your client’s autonomy (right to choose) and you have adopted a guiding style the journey will be enjoyable for both you and the client.

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