Three Ways to Coach the Person, Not the Problem
Published: Monday, 02 March 2015 19:05
Back when we were co-teaching The Flow of Coaching module at theGeorgetown Leadership Coaching Program, my good friend, hero and fellow Davidson College alum Frank Ball used to do a funny bit with a bottle of water. To make the point that coaches and leaders should coach people and not problems, Frank would put a bottle of water on the table in the front of the room and say, “This bottle of water represents the problem.” Then he would start coaching the bottle of water. Needless to say, he never got very far. The bottle just didn’t have that many insights on what to change or how to change it.
That’s the thing. People have insights, problems don’t. If you’re a leader who cares about growing and developing your people, you have to coach them, not their problems.
That’s counterintuitive for a lot of leaders and even a lot of professional coaches. The solution to the problem is so obvious (to you) that you just want to jump in there and solve it for them. That’s not coaching; that’s providing the answer. There’s not much growth in that approach. In fact, you might set growth back by creating a dependency that locks both of you into doing what you’ve always done. And of course when you do that, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.