Out of the Box: Strategize ; "The smart way of getting somewhere with the least amount of effort or cost."
By Alison Hendren, MCC, CEO
Developing efficient, supportive and enjoyable strategies to help people achieve their goals is what is key to providing value in coaching. Most people really want and need a strategy to make what they are wanting to accomplish/achieve/solve/create happen. Just recently I was speaking with a client who discovered a critical lapse in communication by her team. They implemented a fundamental change but forgot to communicate it to the key stakeholders! The change was a good one but they just forgot to tell people before they made it...sound familiar?
There was a huge missed opportunity to celebrate the very positive change along with so many other pieces. So, what was she to do? We talked a bit and then focused on what opportunities were present and what strategy she could put into place that would support an even bigger change initiative. By the time we were done, not only had she come up with a way to solve this that would be empowering for her team, but she came up with two key strategies that could profoundly strengthen herself as a leader, i.e. collaboration and innovation.
Here are a few provocative questions to help someone strategize:
- What is the most unconventional way to do this?
- What if you had no budget for this?
- What are you willing to do in order to achieve this?
- What's the fastest way?
- What's the easiest way?
- What would be a great way to get there?
- What's the most intuitive, creative, brilliant approach that you could take to accomplish this result and generate six others like it?
AND, here are a few more tips when supporting someone to strategize:
With a strategy, you aren't always working directly on the goal itself, but rather on improving or positioning the environments, relationships, resources, flows, systems or even yourself. So, strategies are very different from a plan. In fact, when you devise the right strategy, the plan becomes obvious. But without the strategy, the plan is merely a set of linear action steps (read: lots of work and often a waste of time). So, as the coach it is critical for you to shine the light on the bigger picture or possibility, take the person up to the 50,000 foot level so that they can really look at what is possible.
Developing efficient, supportive and enjoyable strategies to help people achieve their goals is what is key to providing value. Here are a few elements of Personal Strategies: Integrity strengthened, support structures, fitness/health, community, self-discovery and here are a few elements of Business Strategies: Improved Technology, Pilot Program, Coaching, Strategic Alliances, Incentives, Education, Collaboration, Innovation etc.
Coaching someone to strategize is the ultimate in empowerment. How exciting to be able to support them in coming up with the tools to empower themselves because 90% of coaching happens in between the coaching and years beyond.
Out of the Box: Action Planning: A key to getting things done!
We all do it. Some may call it action planning, others may call it strategizing. Regardless, it is something we do on a daily basis to accomplish our tasks and goals or to get from Point A to Point B.
Think about it.
If you like to write out your grocery list in the order that the items appear in the store, you are action planning in order to ensure that you get everything you need. OR
If you schedule your day from appointments to downtime, you too are action planning in order to make the most of your day.
As a matter of fact, action planning and implementation is one of the key elements in coaching. It helps our coachees to stay on target and to take forward movement. It takes a discovery-type conversation to the next level. Any time we can put a new awareness to use, we are not only growing, but we are increasing our success rates.
Out of the Box: Requesting - The opportunity to ask the World of your Coachee!
by Alison Hendren, CEO, MCC
Many people who learn coaching skills are under the false impression that they should never ask anything of the coachee but simply let them come up with what they are willing to commit to....WRONG!! Requesting is one of the 5 Core Coaching Skills in our 5/5/5 Coaching Skills Training Program™ because there are many times when making a request can catapult the coachee to a whole different level or at the very least accelerate movement thru a particular challenge or issue.
A great way to do this is to make a request i.e. "I would like to make a request for you to come up with 3 key strategies that could solve the conflict with your Director in half the time. You can accept, reject or negotiate it. What do you think?" The bottom line is to find a way to ask more of your coachee than they might themselves or support them in seeing something in a completely different way. If the request isn't quite it, work with them to find one that is and hold their feet to the fire. When we are coaching or being coach-like we are supposed to truly believe that our coachees are capable of so much more and they are! If we don't make requests that demonstrate we believe it is possible for coachees to solve that problem, achieve that goal, deal with that conflict, realize their dream, soar as a leader, take that risk, learn that new skill, ask for that grant, etc. then we are not being all we can be as coaches! What is the request it is time for you to make?
Out of the Box: Trust Me!
"Self-trust is the first secret of success". – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to trust ourselves. Trust that we will make the right decision. Trust that under pressure we will do the right thing. Trust that when placed in a difficult situation that we will be able to cope. Trust that we will say the right thing at the right time. Trust that our coaching skills are good enough or that we are good coaches.
Key to building self trust is listening to our gut instincts; that little twinge deep inside that indicates the best direction or the thing to say in that moment. In coaching, when we ask the question that our gut is telling us to ask, 9 times out of 10 it is exactly what the coachee needs to be asked.
In addition, it is important to be open to the possibilities. That means as coaches, taking chances and stretching not just our coachees, but ourselves. The more we stretch the more we grow and the more our self trust grows.
Lastly, it’s important to practice, practice, practice particularly when it comes to coaching. The more you can stretch your own coaching muscles and try new things on for size, the more trust you develop. (HINT: That’s why practicums are so awesome, as they provide you with the space and the time to practice.)
Just remember, YOU have what it takes to do the right thing, to say the right thing, to ask those great questions and to be the best coach possible to your coachees…so let the TRUSTING BEGIN.