A few decades ago, my friends and colleagues Frank Wagner and Chris Coffey took the lead in creating Stakeholder Centered Coaching®, a training certification to help coaches learn and apply the philosophy, principles, and practices that I had developed to help successful leaders get better.
Stakeholder Centered Coaching® has a remarkable track record of success as measured by those who work with the leader and assess their level of improvement through our mini-survey tool. Chris Coffey is one of the most successful coaches who use this method. I asked him what makes him so successful and hope that his answers will help you be a successful coach too. Below is an excerpt from our interview.
Marshall: Chris, of all the coaches who use our process, you’re one of the most successful. I think your results are right up there with mine. You’ve done a fantastic job of helping people achieve positive long-term change in behavior. You don’t have a Ph.D. in this field, and yet you’ve been highly successful. To me, the definition of a great coach is not how many degrees you have, or how many books you write, but do you get positive results for your clients.
And on that score, you’re right at the top. Without being immodest, what are you doing right? What are you doing right?
Chris: I think the fact that I teach Stakeholder Centered Coaching is really helpful. I teach the process again and again and it has become who I am. Teaching makes me a better coach.
Not everybody gets to teach. So, one of the things I tell people is “just because you went through a two-day certification doesn’t make you a brain surgeon!” I tell them to go to the SCC webpage for videos, articles, information. It’s all there for people who want to be a great coach. And, that’s one of the questions I ask people, “How good do you want to be?” Whether it’s golfer, skier, or coach, how good do you want to be?
For coaches just starting out, learn the process, get good with it. It’s simple, not complicated. You help the client pick a couple of goals, leadership skills to work on. If you go to my webpage, you’ll find a list of the most worked on leadership skills.
In an interview for a coaching engagement, I’ll take that list on one piece of paper, and hand it to the client and say, “If you could wave a magic wand, what are two things on this list that you’d like to be more effective at and be recognized and acknowledged by others as more effective at?”
I’ve never had anybody say, “You know, as I look at this, there isn’t anything on here that I could possibly improve… “
Marshall: No one ever tells you, “I have no room for improvement on any topic as judged by anybody?”
Chris: Even if they’re just trying to be humble, they’re going to pick a couple of things. And then I say, “Well, who are the dozen people around who will know if you’re listening more effectively, holding people accountable, taking appropriate risks–who would know?”
Marshall: Chris, people often ask me, “What if I want to work on something that is very different from what you would have picked?” To be honest, I almost never have that happen. What they pick always seems to make sense to me. It’s never been weird or unusual. And we also get their boss involved. The boss has to approve it.
Chris: A student coach told me once that he was afraid the client was going to pick the wrong goal and that he thought the client should try to change something a little more challenging. He asked how I would get the client to change her mind. I said I wouldn’t. I said she’s got to get approval about that goal from the boss. Let her work with the boss on that.
As a coach, it is not our job to structure what the client works on. It is up to the client and the person they work for. As a coach, if you tell them what to change and then they don’t get better, they’ll say, “Well I never thought that was important anyway. Marshall told me to do it.” That’s not going to help anyone and you are going to wind up losing in the end.
Marshall: That’s right. Thank you!
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