Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

Ep. #37. The Life Long Impact of Training as a Coach

January 13, 2023 Jean Balfour Season 2 Episode 37
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
Ep. #37. The Life Long Impact of Training as a Coach
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought about training as a coach but not sure if you would ever become a full time coach?

In this episode of Making Sense of Work Jean shares her own experience of the many advantages of learning to coach. She also shares examples of what others have learnt and how the skills are relevant in all aspects of our lives. 



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https://baileybalfour.com/

Hi everyone, and welcome to this episode of Making Sense of Work. Today, I thought I would share with you a little bit about the impact of training as a coach. For me, there's been a heavy impact in all areas of my life, and I thought I had opened the window to that and share with you a little bit about how coaching impacts our personal lives and our working lives, because the impact is much wider than simply learning to be a coach or learning to be a leader who coaches. I wonder when you first heard the word coaching, perhaps in a workplace setting. We've heard a lot about coaching and sports, but for me, I can remember exactly where I was. It was about 23 years ago, and I was in a new consultancy role and my boss asked me to take on a coaching assignment, and I literally had to ask, what's coaching? I had no training and really, Experience, but she convinced me to go off and treat it as a good conversation. And so off I went to my first coaching client and together we worked it out. I, I guess I had some core principles about my role being to help her move forward, think about some things, and we did that together. and she wanted to get a new role and she got that role and we were happy and I'm really grateful to her to this day for that experience. But I then really decided I didn't wanna do any more coaching until I really knew what it was. And so when I started my own business in 2001, I went off. Some training in what's called the thinking environment with Nancy Kline. And for me, I guess I see that as the beginning of my coach training. That training with Nancy and all the subsequent trainings I've done have heavily impacted every part of my life. Not just my work as a coach, but my personal life. In my relationships with my friends, in the way I approach the people I work with in my team, it infiltrates everything. And so I thought I'd share with you a little bit about my experience of that and also some of the stories I hear from people who train with us about the impact that coach training has had on their personal lives. Let me start by saying a little bit about what we actually mean by coaching. So our coach training program is accredited with the International Coaching Federation, and they define coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. They go on to say that coaches honor the client as the expert in their life and in their work, and believe that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole. And as coaches, we really do hold strongly to this. View that every person we are with is capable, that they are resourceful, that they're able to be well within themselves. And we come into coaching, holding this perspective. We come into every conversation open to listening to someone with about their worldview, about their values, their ideas, their plans, and their beliefs. And when we train as a coach, we learn to do. And this on its own is a really powerful learning because as humans we, we kind of have a strong desire, I think, to judge people or to believe we know what's best or to give them advice and learning to coach teaches us to suspend that and to be more relational, more aware of the other person in all areas of our life, both at home and at work and in our families and with our friends. Another underlying principle of coaching is that when we are with somebody and we think something through that that matters, that that is helpful, and this is certainly true when we think through something on our own, it's just us. It's our brain, our experience, and the challenge for us is that whilst our brain will be accessing our own good analytical thinking and our experience and our wisdom, we will also be caught in our emotional mind and sometimes our kind of primitive mind, which might be full of fear or anxiety about the situation. And so sometimes when we are left, Thinking something through on our own. It gets a bit murky, a bit unclear. We dunno what to do, we dunno how to move forward. And this is what we do in coaching. Really. We help someone take all of that murkiness, that lack of clarity, and we bring it out into the open. When we're in conversation with someone and they're offering us our presence and our listening, we're able to look at all those ass. Aspects, we're able to look at our thoughts about it, our wisdom around it. We're also able to look at what we feel about it. Do we feel optimistic or dread? We're able to tap into our fears and anxieties, and so it's together in the presence of someone else that we're able to look at the same situation, but maybe see it very differently. And Nancy Kline was ahead of her time really, because she suggested that when we do this, when we think together, our joint intelligence increases. And it looks like neuroscience is also pointing to this, that really the presence of another brain means that we come together and we kind of connect and think well, with each. and there are a few other brain perspectives or neuroscience perspectives that we see from good coaching. And the first of these is that when we are with somebody and they're helping us think something through, we can often move from a stress state to a calm state, to a rest and restore state. We know when we are stressed, we know from the research that when we are stressed, we lose our ability to. as clearly as we would normally. But when we are calm, we're able to tap into our creativity. We're able to kind of feel into our resourcefulness, into our wholeness, and to move into that. And so being in the presence of somebody who's trained to help us to calm, to be still, to look at things, helps to do that. We also see that questions help. We see from the neuroscience that when somebody. A question, our brains are stimulated and the brain then looks to different regions in the brain to see if it can solve the problem. So a good coach is asking curious questions, and those questions will be helping someone to see their own situation and their own world differently. We. In coaching, learn to be really, really present with people. We learn to be present to the whole of the person, and that invites them to be present to themselves, to be present to the whole of themselves. And that can lead to better visualization and better dreaming, as well as more ability to kind of plan and commit and move forward. So all of these areas are relevant in coaching. But I hope you're also hearing that they're all relevant in all parts of our lives. If I'm really angsty about something and someone asks me a really curious question, often I can find the solution to it, even if it's just in that moment and it's a passing encounter at the heart. Good coaching are some really core skills, and at the heart of those skills, I believe, is the ability to be really present, to be really fully listening and aware of the other person. And so let me share with you a couple of simple exercises that we do that help us to learn to do this, to get better at. So the first is that, and I'd invite you to have a go at this, is to listen to somebody for three minutes without interruption, comment, anything. Just listen. Give them your full presence. It's. Ridiculously hard to do this. We are so programmed to jump in, to ask questions, to connect it to our own experience, and yet by doing this, we begin to notice and listen to different things in what the other person is telling us. So maybe you are with a friend in the next few days. Maybe just try it without telling your friend. Go quiet and really listen to what they're saying. See if you can tune in to different areas. See if you can tune in to what they're feeling, maybe what their dreams are. See if you can tune in to some other things. When I look back on my training with Nancy, this was right at the core of it. We. Really trained to be fully present with another person. We were trained to be listening to them, to use their language, to be really curious and to really believe that they had the ability to come up with the solutions that were good for them. And when we train as a coach, we don't just learn the theory of that, we learn the practice of it, and so we get better and better at both being present with our coaching clients, but also being present with the other people we are with. We're also taught as coaches to really listen in with empathy and compassion to our coaching clients. And if you think about how we are trained, how we are brought up, we're often taught to listen from an analytical perspective, a logical perspective. And in coaching we're curious about that, but we are also. About listening to heart, listening to intuition, listening to emotion, and so we learn to do that as well. We learn to hear those different voices, and as we learn that we're also taught to suspend our own judgment and to be really curious about it. So, If a coaching client is sharing an idea of how to approach something, the coach might have an opinion on it, but they don't say, woof. I wouldn't do that. What we invite them to do is to hear that voice inside their head and then just quieten it and to be really curious about that person and their approach. And it may be later down the line that your perspective is really helpful, but we start by assuming that the person we are listening to has some good thinking and some good. There's another simple exercise that we do, which is based on three questions. So if somebody's talking through maybe a, a situation that they dunno what to do in, we will ask the question, what's your head telling you about this situation? What's your heart telling you about this situation? And what's your gut telling you about this situation? You, you could do this Now, think of something that you are not sure about what to do. And just listen to what your mind is telling you, and then listen into your heart space. What wisdom comes from, your feelings, from what's going on in your heart, and then move your attention down to your stomach and listen to your intuition, and listen to your bodies wisdom about the situation. Has he listened to each of these voices? What do you hear? Maybe jot it down or remember to go back and do this another time. Maybe taking longer, because each of these questions can be very powerful. And of course when we are coaching and a person does this, they often have new insights. But also in that process we learn that skill. We learn that we can do this for our. The other thing that coaches do is they help clients move from idea to action. So we learn about helping people to hold themselves accountable, to make changes in their work and lives, to create new habits, to move things. We help people to think about accountability and responsibility, and for those of you who are parents, this could also be a great skill if you think about helping your kids think about their own things that they could be responsible for or accountable for, and how you help them think about that. So these are a couple of examples of how. Training as a coach is directly linked and has skills that are really relevant for all aspects of our life. And the thing about coach training is that you don't just learn the theory. You do a lot of practice. We practice, practice, practice in front of others, getting feedback until we learn to do these things as second nature. So we learn to do them, and so then they pop into other aspects of our life. Maybe we're in a meeting and suddenly we realize that we're not just listening to what the person's saying. We're actually curious about how they feel about what they're saying, or we are noticing that we've got a lot of judgment about what they're saying, and maybe we need to just quieten that judgment and listen to it before we bring our perspective in. So the whole journey of training as a coach is. Going on that journey, learning to quieten those voices and learning to really be fully present with the other. Here are a couple of examples of how this plays out in a leadership context. We had a senior leader train with us a few years ago, and as a part of our program, as I've said, people coach each other and they do this many times and get a lot of feedback from. Their colleagues and the program, and also from our faculty. And I was in this group and observing him, coach, and he was, he wasn't doing so much coaching. He was doing a lot of talking and I wasn't really sure what was happening. So after he finished, I, I just said to him that in coaching we have a kind of 80 20 rule, which is we listen 80% of the time and we. 20% of the time, and I observed him being closer to the other way around. He really took this feedback to heart. He was very gracious about it. And he went away doing a lot of thinking about himself and thinking about himself as a leader. And he noticed that in his meetings with his senior team, who were also very senior people, that he was doing most of the talking. And so overnight he made a decision to. and he switched to listening, curiosity questions, inquiry really to see what would happen. And, and he said that very, very quickly. He noticed his team really just shifting and stepping up, discussing things with each other more, becoming more productive and proactive and working together. And all he had to do was essentially get quiet and curious and something really fundamental changed in his team. The other thing we see in leadership is that we notice leaders and we hear from leaders that they notice themselves becoming more inclusive. And this is cause at its heart. Coaching is an inclusive act. We are seeing the other person as whole. We are seeing them as. Human and whole. And we know from the research that it's bias that gets in the way of us doing this. We make judgements. We move from our judgments into being different with people who we see as other. And of course, in coach training, what we are doing is learning to suspend judgment. We are learning to be aware of the other person, and I see this time and time and time again on our programs that people stop seeing Differe. In the people they're with, and they start to see humanity and they build relationships at a different level. And there are, as I've said, many personal benefits. So one of the surprising personal advantages of training as a coach that we hear from nearly every student is our own personal growth. Not just learning to coach, not just learning a new skill, but when you train as a coach, you get a lot of coaching and you learn to use all the tools. And so you go on a really personal journey about who am. How am I as a leader? How am I interacting with the world? And so you get a lot of personal insight and because of all the coaching you get, you also get that experience of going through some issues and solving them. The other benefit that's also a bit surprising is that because you're observing other people being coached on real things, you see people being coached on issues that are actually relevant for you. So one woman was struggling with, uh, one of her kids, she was a teenager. She wasn't really sure how to handle 'em, and in a group, she was an observer in a group where another woman was being coached about her. Son. And just by being the observer, it helped her to think about her situation differently and to move into doing things differently. There's also this self-coaching element, so like the exercise we did earlier about head, heart, gut, you learn those tools and then you can apply them to yourself in difference sets your situations, and so that is hugely beneficial for personal growth. Also, as I've said, there's a really big benefit, I think, for the people around us, for the others in our lives because learning to coach is at really at its heart as learning to be more relational, and as we learn to more effectively listen, to be more aware and present with others, this has a really profound effect on the people we are with. I know for me this is really important. I'm really deeply. Of being as present as I can be with others. And I often receive feedback that people say that they felt very heard. And one small example is that one of our alumni shared that her husband commented that she was listening a lot more at home and she also noticed that she was listening to her kids differently. And finally there's a great network built as you train as a coach. Coaching is is a kind of vulnerable act, so you get to know each other really well on a coaching program. And our programs run across Europe and Asia Pacific, and people build really deep friendships because of this experience of learning to coach together, learning to be very relational together. So I hope this helps you to see how training as a coach isn't really just about training as a coach and how it really can benefit many areas of your career and working life. You might become a professional coach, but we have many people who train with us who actually never go on to do professional coaching, but go on to use these skills in their leadership, in their working. In how they are in their community and in their families, and I know for me that it's had a really deep impact on the whole of my life.