Coaching Isn’t Just for Sports

I love sports! I love to play sports (although not as competitively as I once did), I love to watch sports and I particularly love to see teams that “click”. You know what I mean when I say “click”. It is when a teammate backs another up without a word spoken. It is when a complex play is demonstrated on the field or the court without any blunder. It is the pass without the look and the joy for one another’s success. This doesn’t happen by chance; it happens by purposeful practice and great leadership. The next time you watch a sporting event I urge you to watch the coach. I think that great teams have great coaches.

What makes a great coach? A great coach is many things mixed into one. A great coach is someone that is confident and competent. Someone that is strong, yet soft. A person that can pull the best out of another. It is someone that can help the struggling athlete believe in themselves again even when they have hit a rough patch. It is someone that can push another to do just a little bit better – despite the successes that they have achieved.

Who is a good coach? I suspect that you have already had someone in mind. It may be a professional coach for the MLB, NFL, NHL or NBA* (*note: if you are unfamiliar with any or all of these abbreviations, please contact me directly and I will let you know what each stand for). It may be a professional coach for your favorite college athletic team. It may be a coach that has helped your child find joy and success in a sport that they adore. It may be a coach that you, yourself had as you participated in athletics as a youth.

I wonder if anyone thought about a teacher or supervisor that they currently have or have had in the past? Is it possible that coaching can happen outside of athletics? It can, and it does. I would also suggest that we can learn to have a coaching mindset that, in turn, can propel our workforce. With the proper tools and consistent practice (along with a little coaching on the side), you too can be that individual that someone thinks about when the concept of a “great coach” comes up.

Coaching in the workplace

I am privileged to be a National Transformational Coach Captain in my workplace. I work with a small number of colleagues to train coaches that are specially taught to coach improvement teams. The people that have chosen to take this role on typically do so as an adjunctive duty. The people that coach others in the workplace are very special not only due to their specialized training, but because of the attitude that they demonstrate. These are people who believe in others. They believe in others’ ability to do the absolute best that they can if they are given the right tools and support. A coach sometimes needs to be a cheerleader and other times needs to be mentor. Yet regardless of the role of the moment, an underlying belief in people is what makes them particularly special.

Why do these coaches perform this collateral duty? I suppose I would have to ask each one individually, but I can tell you what I have seen. I have seen this role to be a “bucket filler” for them. It feels good to help others do well. Knowing that you have been an instrumental contributor to another’s success, whether outwardly recognized or not, adds to your own well-being.

 Do you want to be a workplace coach?

When my colleagues and I teach our coaches how to coach, we reference the work of Sir John Whitmore. Racecar driver turned improvement coach, he introduced the world to the GROW Model (Find additional information here). This model is an acronym for the coaching framework that we teach, demonstrate and apply to our work. Although there is much more that we teach our transformational coaches, the below description will give you a small start as to how you can begin coaching others.

The GROW Coaching Model: Goal, Reality, Options, What’s next*

  1. Goal: As a coach, you guide the person or group that you are working with to ascertain an ideal outcome of the work that they are doing. It should be realistic, yet challenging and positive. Good goal-related questions raise energy and get people thinking about a better future.
    1. (e.g. “What would you like to achieve from this conversation?”)
  2. Reality: A reality question helps the person or group you are working with clarify their current situation. This leads to self-awareness and straightforward self-assessment. Reality questions can help people get clear – get unstuck.
    1. (e.g. “What did you like about your performance?”)
  3. Options: This is the opportunity to brainstorm as many options as one can, to get creative and widen the possibilities.
    1. (e.g. “If you would do it again, what would you do differently?”)
  4. What’s next: This is when a discussion shifts into a decision. The ownership remains with the individual or group that one is coaching. It activates the “will” and suggests that action should be taken.
    1. (e.g. “What will you do about this in the future?”)

Why Coach Others?

I coach because I get emotional reward from seeing others succeed. Coaching delivers results because of the supportive relationship between the coach and those being coached. It is a manner of communication that pulls the knowledge, skills and abilities from the individual being coached themselves. It is a way of interacting with others in which we help them unlock the potential within.

Imagine your workplace if a coaching style with others was routinely demonstrated. Imagine the potential that we could achieve and the work environment we could create. This type of interpersonal interaction is that “special sauce” that help form those championship teams – those teams that just “click”.

Kathleen Glow-Morgan is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker that has been employed by the Veterans Health Administration since 2008. She currently works as a National Transformational Coach Captain and Health Systems Specialist within the Office for Veterans Access to Care. Ms. Glow-Morgan is a Certified Alternate Dispute Resolution Mediator and a Certified Change Management Practitioner. Ms. Glow-Morgan has expertise in conflict management, communication strategies, coaching and change management. She has presented at numerous national conferences and workshops. 

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