I was recently asked to write an article on coaching for a great site based in the US that offers a wealth of resources for managers.
The article suggests there is more to coaching than simply doing coaching. Of course, it is possible for managers to learn a bunch of coaching skills and as many models as are out there, but that doesn't mean they will be good at it!
Beliefs & values will play a critical part in a person's level of skill in whatever they choose to do, and the thing that often holds managers back from achieving excellence is an incongruence in what they hold to be important and true.
As well as coaching, it strikes me the same can be said for anything that is considered something we 'do'. For example, in my experience of working with organisations that want to be better at customer service, most seem to go for training programmes, spending vast amounts of money on teaching people what to do and how to do it. This clearly does not work!
How do I know this? Well, these same organisations seem to repeatedly do the same thing every couple of years and never raise the level of service much higher than it was before they started. Very rarely have I come across leaders in these organisations that think about tackling the beliefs & values aligned to great customer service.
I recall a story I heard a few years ago, about a group of NLP practitioners that were studying how shamans heal others. The practitioners took a Shaman into the Arizona desert and asked if he would heal a willing volunteer who had been experiencing great discomfort when walking for many years,
The Shaman gently lay the man down, looked into his eyes and said that he intended to heal him so he could walk without pain. The Shaman then continued to wave his hands in the air, chant, throw dust up into the starry night above and generally dance around a lot.
Whilst this was happening, the group of practitioners were frantically making notes, hoping to observe what the Shaman was doing that would make a difference.
What seemed like a long time, the Shaman helped the man to his feet. Gingerly at first, the man took a few steps forward and then exclaimed "there is no pain!".
The Shaman was then bombarded by questions from the group of psychologists - "was it your hand movements?", "or, was it the chanting?" and "or, was it when you actually rubbed the dust into his leg?"
In response, the Shaman simply said "It was none of these. The healing happened when I set my intent at the very start...the rest was all ritual"
His belief that he could heal, matched with the man's belief that he could be healed, was enough in itself. The rest was ritual that anyone could learn...but not everyone could heal.
Like coaching and customer service, (...and even shamanism), leadership it isn't simply about what you do and how you do it.
Being a leader is more than this. It is a belief system, a sense of values and even a way of life.
See Kevin's article on being a coach here: http://buff.ly/18npK9X