SITUATIONAL COACHING MODEL

THE MIND OF A COACH

The Coaching Principles focus on a coach’s heart. The Situational Coaching Model focuses on the coach’s mind. It contains six paradigms, described by the acronym GEARDA, to be used in coaching conversations.

The Goals Paradigm focuses on what clients want, either from a specific session or from the entire coaching process. This paradigm is usually the focus of the first coaching conversation, but is also important to every session. From providing progress updates to dealing with unanticipated obstacles, clients are constantly working on goals. When clients achieve their goals or make progress toward doing so, this paradigm also surfaces: coaches need to ask how clients celebrated their accomplishments and how they feel about their success.

The Exploration Paradigm is about helping clients determine how they will reach their goals. Its focus is generating options and ideas and thinking creatively before engaging in analysis.

The Analysis Paradigm concentrates on determining the best and most important options that the Exploration Paradigm generated. In this paradigm, clients explore the pros and cons and implications of their potential choices and evaluate the best ways to achieve their goals.

The Releasing Paradigm deals with identifying and letting go of negative feelings and replacing them with positive feelings. Many people live in a constant state of negative emotion or are dealing with heavy emotional burdens. Either situation creates substantial obstacles to achieving goals even with the best coaching. When both coach and client are aware of these emotions, the client can express them and, if necessary release them.

Through the Decision Paradigm, clients choose a path. Coaches help clients simplify their options and develop criteria to make decisions. Sometimes, clients need help before they feel ready to decide.

Through the Action Paradigm, coaches ask clients what action steps are necessary and when they need to be completed. Coaches encourage clients to draw up action plans, which include priorities and a timeline as well as accountability systems. Another aspect of the Action Paradigm is creating support structures. Most coaching sessions should end with at least a few minutes in the Action Paradigm, during which the client commits to next steps.

Some conversations may necessitate just two or three of these paradigms; some may necessitate all six. The best coaches seamlessly move from one paradigm to another according to client needs. For example, if clients have begun taking action but are constantly running into obstacles created by negative emotions, the coach and the client will need to return to the Releasing Paradigm in order for the client to continue to make progress. Sometimes, a lack of good options does not become clear until the client is in the Analysis Paradigm. In that case, it is best to return to the Exploration Paradigm before proceeding to the Decision Paradigm.

Coaching is not a step-by-step process, so coaches need to practice using all six paradigms but also remember not all six will be necessary in every session. With sufficient practice, coaches will be able to intuitively apply the right paradigm as well as shift seamlessly among the six paradigms.

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COACHING PRINCIPLES

Believe in Human Potential for Greatness

First and foremost, coaches need to believe that all people have special gifts that make them uniquely magnificent. Belief in human potential is absolutely essential to helping people maximize their talents. This belief needs to persist despite initial evidence to the contrary, despite mistakes and difficult circumstances. Even subconscious doubt could increase the chances of negative outcomes.

Fulfillment Flows from Adding Value to Others

Coaching helps clients improve their lives and experience fulfillment through goal achievement, problem solving, learning, and overcoming limiting beliefs. In turn, coaches also experience fulfillment from seeing clients improve and succeed. This emotion further inspires coaches to do even better work for their clients and experience greater fulfillment.

Bring Out the Best in People and Let Them Lead

Clients who set their own goals take responsibility to deal with the consequences of their behavior. Micromanaging coaches sabotage this important element of success. Some clients are accustomed to controlling environments and need time to adjust to taking charge of their own careers. In this situation, coaches simply need to persist patiently. Coaches should maintain faith that their clients are able to find and implement solutions without over-management.

Use Influence Rather than Position

Successful coaches do not act like bosses, and successful coaching relationships are not based on positional authority. Instead, coaches use positive relational influence. The clients of these coaches take action because they want to and they see the benefits of that action, not because their coaches told them to. Coaches who are humble and work collaboratively with clients create this influence, and their clients respond in kind.

Thrive on Challenges and Flexibility

When dealing with challenges, the best attitude for coaches to have is a welcoming one. In fact, good coaches and poor coaches are separated by how they respond to challenges. Each challenge is unique and needs to be treated as such. No matter the challenge, it is vital that coaches do not personalize failures. Facing failure does not make someone a failure.

When We Grow Others, We Grow Ourselves

Coaching not only helps organizations improve but also helps coaches grow personally. Personal growth is an often-unexpected benefit of coaching others. Coaching requires excellent listening skills, belief in others, persistence, and a positive attitude: the same attributes help people become better parents, spouses, and friends.

A Coach Still Needs a Coach

Even highly experienced coaches need to have their own coaches. Coaches are constantly giving to their clients and need support. In addition, coaches without their own coaches may fall victim to their own pride or blind spots.

Maintain Authentic Rapport and Humor

Positive relationships are a necessity for coaching to work. Taking the time to build rapport at the beginning of a coaching relationship and as needed as the relationship progresses can improve client results. The key is for the rapport to be authentic. If clients suspect they are being manipulated, they will likely resist taking action.

Touch a Heart with Care and Sincerity

Coaches need to provide clients with unconditional care backed by sincerity, even when clients are not performing well. In fact, when clients are struggling, they most need coaching support. Without care and sincerity, there is no trust.

Practice Integrity and Build Trust

Trust is essential for relationships to succeed. To build trust, coaches need to demonstrate transparency and keep private information confidential. Clients need to see that coaches have positive intent and act accordingly.

Curiosity Ignites Your Spirit

Coaches need to be curious and encourage that quality in their clients. No coach has all the answers, and exploring new ground together helps strengthen the coach-client bond. It can also feel exciting for both parties.

Ask Questions that Empower and Create Buy-In

When decisions are made for people, they are less interested in completing the task. For important choices made by someone else, that lack of interest is magnified. Clients need freedom to make their own decisions. Coaches therefore need to ask empowering and motivating questions to facilitate that process and help clients develop self-confidence and avoid dependence.

Avoid Judgmental and Advice-Oriented Questions

When judgments come in the form of questions, clients immediately recognize the deceit and usually become defensive. Even well intentioned coaches may ask advice-oriented questions. Successful coaches ask truly unbiased questions that do not include suggestions.

Powerful Questions Release Solutions

Complex, roundabout questions are not helpful in coaching. Effective questions are simple and clear. Given the importance of the topics clients explore with their coaches, waiting patiently while the client formulates a response is also necessary.

Asking Great Questions Requires Practice

There are many potential mistakes coaches can make when asking questions, including asking:

*”Why” questions, which often leave clients feeling criticized. “What in this situation makes you angry?” is better than “Why are you so angry?”

*Bombarding questions, which can overwhelm clients.

*Poorly expressed questions, which clients can misinterpret.

Listen Rather Than Tell

To help clients reach their potential, coaching relies on the Socratic method, which requires excellent listening. Outstanding coaches listen carefully to what clients are saying, ask for clarification when necessary, and listen for what is left unsaid.

Be Present and Turn Off Your Inner Dialogue

Intent listening usually leaves the listener a bit tired. Removing distractions, such as noise, e-mails, and text messages, as well as becoming fully engaged in conversations are all necessary to make intent listening possible.

Avoid Jumping to Premature Conclusions

It is so easy to jump to conclusions that most people do so without even realizing it. Unfortunately, these conclusions can color coaches’ thinking and blind them to important insights. Clarification, even when it does not seem especially necessary, is an essential coaching practice.

Be Impartial and Nonjudgmental

Given the importance of acceptance in coaching, coaches need to practice both components of empathy: intellectual (understanding feelings) and emotional (appropriately responding). They also need to avoid imposing their opinions on clients.

Listen Deeply, Use Observation and Intuition

Insights result from a combination of deep listening, observation, intuition, curiosity, and great questions. Through deep listening and observation, coaches can identify patterns. Intuition will often then arise, but it is important for coaches to continue to ask great questions rather than assume their intuition is accurate.

Embrace Feedback to Triumph

Even the most self-aware clients cannot see everything about themselves; their coaches must fill in the gaps and provide feedback that comes from a place of positive intent. Like questions, feedback should not include judgments or advice. Clients must also give their coaches feedback. Coaches who view this feedback as valuable information will use it to become even better.

Awareness and Acceptance Cultivates Transformation

Lack of awareness often impedes clients’ progress. Coaches who notice patterns help clients understand past frustrations and past successes. Awareness also helps people recognize their strengths and achievements, which constant work toward new goals can sometimes obscure.

Get Consent Before Giving Suggestions

When coaches give advice, clients often feel obligated to follow it. Furthermore, what would work for a coach may not work for a client. A better approach is to give suggestions only when absolutely necessary and with client permission. The result is sustained client motivation and increased focus on creatively solving problems.

Use the Power of Simplicity

Clients usually do not see themselves and their situations objectively because they are too close to both. Coaches help clients distance themselves, determine core issues, and see the big picture, all of which helps clients more easily find the solutions they need.

Establish Goal Ownership & Commitment

Clients are responsible for setting their own goals. Coaches are responsible for supporting clients and helping them clarify their goals. Goals that work:

*Are specific and measurable

*Follow a clear timeline

*Are achievable yet challenging

*Present opportunities for personal and professional growth

Create Strategies and Action Plans for Goals

Coaches help their clients create strategies and action plans to achieve their goals. Ideal topics to explore initially and review regularly with questions include:

*The resources and sacrifices necessary to achieve the goal

*Priorities and how new goals relate to other commitments

Keep Score of Goals and Action Steps

Scorecards, which clients should create, show progress in a clear way. They keep people motivated, remind clients of their recent accomplishments, and even help them learn how they can improve their performances. Coaches can use scorecards to guide conversations about improving future outcomes.

Support Goals Completion Continuously

It can be easy to hold off on celebrating until a goal is accomplished, but doing so robs the client of the rewards of working toward a goal. In addition, setbacks can cause clients to feel bad about themselves. Celebrations and other support structures, such as follow-up calls, e-mails, and automated reminders, help keep clients on track.

Accountability Drives Accomplishments

When clients fail to accomplish their tasks, coaches need to work on understanding the reasons for the lapse while maintaining their standards. Many clients benefit from working with accountability partners, such as colleagues, in addition to their coaches.

Acknowledge Efforts and Progress

Consistent praise for efforts made toward achieving a goal reinforces clients’ motivation and self-esteem.

WHAT A GOOD MENTOR MUST KNOW

The popular adage, “If you want to have a good friend, you must be a good friend,” also holds true for mentoring. The mentor who sets the example of a proper work ethic, steady productivity, and self-care is most apt to develop a protégé who exhibits these traits. A good mentor accepts responsibility for the success of the relationship and the accountability for how it is proceeding.

Effective mentors realize that their protégés will be helpful in reducing the workload, and can be counted on to provide loyalty and assistance. They will also benefit from the increased excitement of working with talented newcomers and guiding protégés to success. Both mentors and protégés can enrich each other’s networks.

An active mentor should also be an active professional who is highly involved in the organization. By demonstrating command of the field and visibility among peers, the mentor mirrors the activity that is expected of the protégé. Such activity also shows the mentor to be a hard worker and innovator, which creates excitement in the mentorship.

Mentors who are proficient at their jobs, knowledgeable about their companies, and aware of what is required in their mentorship roles will produce the best and most confident protégés. They are aware that their influence over protégés comes with responsibility. They must not exploit protégés personally or professionally, and must be honest about protégés’ abilities at all times. It can be difficult to give objective feedback, especially if a mentor becomes friends with a protégé, or if it becomes clear that the protégé is in the wrong field; however, honest feedback is always in the protégé’s best interest.

Mentors should not attempt to turn their protégés into exact replicas of themselves. A successful mentor discovers what inspires the protégé and where his or her dreams and objectives lie, then shows the protégé how to accomplish as many of them as possible. Humble mentors who are comfortable talking about their own limitations and imperfections have been proven to be better models for their protégés.

TRAITS OF EXCELLENT MENTORS

Many of the qualities that make a person a good partner in a personal relationship are also found in a good mentor. He or she should be a good listener, committed to the relationship, considerate of the other person’s feelings, trustworthy, and faithful. Maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude and having a good sense of humor helps ensure friendship and respect, which are needed for the protégé’s success.

People who appear cool and emotionally detached are seldom good mentors because they are not easily approachable. Mentors with relaxed body language and an open, friendly attitude encourage their protégés to confide in them and to trust that they will be available for help whenever it is needed. By making solid eye contact and exhibiting positive and frequent reactions to the protégé’s conversation, the mentor underscores that the protégé and the protégé’s ideas are important.

Open dialogue can lead to the disclosure of information that is meant to be confidential. How much confidentiality that is shared is between the two parties in a mentorship. A mentor should never coerce information from a protégé, and is expected to protect confidentiality unless the limits of safety to people or the organization are in question (or, of course, there are legal concerns). Similarly, the mentor should not reveal confidential company information. Limits should be discussed at the outset of the mentorship so that everyone knows what they are.

In addition to exhibiting good relationship skills, a mentor must serve as a role model. It is not unusual for protégés to mimic characteristics of mentors they admire, but they must also be encouraged to make these characteristics their own. The goal of a mentor is not to create a clone, but to foster a protégé’s growth and development.

Although shared values create strong relationships, the mentorship relationship must leave room for the protégé to choose values that may differ from the mentor’s. A protégé may also develop abilities that the mentor does not have, which can be difficult for the mentor to accept. A successful mentor recognizes and celebrates these accomplishments, for a goal of mentorship is for the two individuals to become colleagues who can benefit one another.

Throughout the mentorship, an effective mentor reads the protégé well and is able to tailor the mentoring experience to that person’s emotions, personality, and drive. The mentor must not be a perfectionist nor allow the protégé to become one. Accepting limitations without expecting them creates a healthy learning environment.

Most important, a good mentor must be trustworthy. For example, a mentor should be able to keep appointments, follow through on promises, and speak honestly in every conversation with his or her protégé. Trustworthiness is exhibited when the mentor behaves with the utmost integrity in both personal and professional activities.

WHAT A GOOD MENTOR MUST KNOW

The popular adage, “If you want to have a good friend, you must be a good friend,” also holds true for mentoring. The mentor who sets the example of a proper work ethic, steady productivity, and self-care is most apt to develop a protégé who exhibits these traits. A good mentor accepts responsibility for the success of the relationship and the accountability for how it is proceeding.

Effective mentors realize that their protégés will be helpful in reducing the workload, and can be counted on to provide loyalty and assistance. They will also benefit from the increased excitement of working with talented newcomers and guiding protégés to success. Both mentors and protégés can enrich each other’s networks.

An active mentor should also be an active professional who is highly involved in the organization. By demonstrating command of the field and visibility among peers, the mentor mirrors the activity that is expected of the protégé. Such activity also shows the mentor to be a hard worker and innovator, which creates excitement in the mentorship.

Mentors who are proficient at their jobs, knowledgeable about their companies, and aware of what is required in their mentorship roles will produce the best and most confident protégés. They are aware that their influence over protégés comes with responsibility. They must not exploit protégés personally or professionally, and must be honest about protégés’ abilities at all times. It can be difficult to give objective feedback, especially if a mentor becomes friends with a protégé, or if it becomes clear that the protégé is in the wrong field; however, honest feedback is always in the protégé’s best interest.

Mentors should not attempt to turn their protégés into exact replicas of themselves. A successful mentor discovers what inspires the protégé and where his or her dreams and objectives lie, then shows the protégé how to accomplish as many of them as possible. Humble mentors who are comfortable talking about their own limitations and imperfections have been proven to be better models for their protégés.

WHAT EXCELLENT MENTORS DO

Being a good mentor begins with selecting the right person as a protégé. People with compatible personalities, career goals, and talents work better together, providing sound footing for the mentoring relationship. Beyond that, it is important to establish goals, guidelines, and methods of interpreting expected success and to agree on them.

Both member and protégé should be willing to commit the time and attention necessary to a successful mentorship. A mentor who is readily available for questions, instruction, and feedback and who gets to know the protégé well is better able to help that person as the relationship develops. The mentor must determine what it takes to motivate without taking over and how to best help the protégé set reachable goals that utilize talents and allay fears (which may naturally crop up along the way).

An affirming attitude that does not give way to frustration when things do not work out as planned encourages the protégé to feel safe during challenges, and that leads to growth and comfort in the mentorship. Good mentors are willing to offer counsel, share their own inadequacies and struggles, and promote their protégés within organizations by giving them high-profile assignments and introducing them to others who can also help them become successful.

Excellent mentors refuse to accept anything but the best efforts from their protégés. When a mentor lets a protégé know that he or she expects the best and has complete confidence in the protégé’s abilities, the protégé makes every effort to succeed and experiences increased self-confidence.

At times, a protégé may need protection against others in the organization who may be threats. A successful mentor provides this protection, while at the same time offering corrective feedback and encouragement when both are needed to keep the protégé on the right path to success. In a sense, the mentorship is like an incubator, providing a safe place for the protégé to experiment with developing skills before having to depend on them for survival. In the mentoring relationship, creativity is allowed to bloom in a somewhat protected environment.

Additionally, a good mentor sponsors the protégé within the company by providing introductions to people who are important to know and by creating projects that will gain the protégé recognition. Such experiences allow the protégé to develop a circle of colleagues and a history of accomplishments.

Other mentoring responsibilities include imparting insider knowledge about the organization, its history, the way it does business, and how best to navigate within the organization to be successful. Throughout the mentorship, and during regular meetings and discussions of goals and abilities, the mentor provides direction regarding how much progress is being made.

A mentoring relationship changes as the protégé becomes more confident and skillful. Because each partner in the relationship becomes more trusting and respectful of the other, and affection between them grows, it is the mentor’s further responsibility to ensure that the personal boundaries between them stay on a professional level.

Continual affirmation of the protégé’s personal and professional skills communicates trust and confidence on the part of a mentor–who must also be aware of the protégé’s talents, fears, and vulnerabilities so that he or she can apply praise, encouragement, and validation in the proper areas.

DIFFERENT PEOPLE STYLES

BUILD RAPPORT THROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE STYLES

There are four different personality styles that individuals fall into, and each category represents differing degrees of assertiveness and responsiveness in their dealings with others. Mentors do not need to be matched with those with similar styles, but they do need to understand the differences in the styles and how best to interact with each.

1. Drivers are results-driven. They are decisive and work at a rapid pace. They are not interested in small details and they have a direct interpersonal style. Drivers are highly assertive and less responsive to others’ needs. Mentors should set clear goals, be available for questions, and let Drivers take charge of setting objectives.

2. Expressives are outgoing and energetic, and they enjoy being in the spotlight. They have strong people skills and are less task focused than other styles. Expressives score high on both the assertiveness and responsiveness scales. Mentors will need flexibility in implementing mentoring plans because Expressives are subject to shifts in interests and priorities. Expressives will need some independence in executing their plans and are responsive to praise.

3. Amiables are team players who are easygoing, like to work with others, and do well in service positions. They are comfortable with routine. They score higher on the responsiveness scale and lower on the assertiveness scale than other styles. Mentors should be aware that Amiables may be motivated to please their mentors, but they may be passive about setting strategies and taking bold steps toward innovation.

4. Analyticals are perfectionists; they are low-key in disposition and task oriented. They prefer working alone and may keep their feelings to themselves. Analyticals are lower on both the assertiveness and responsiveness scales. Mentors should make sure their plans are in writing so that Analyticals can review and assess them. Mentoring that is focused more on career coaching and less on psychosocial aspects will be better received by Analyticals.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

POWERFUL PRACTICE #1: MODEL EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Mentors’ behaviors have a more powerful impact on protégés than words do. Protégés pay attention to behaviors, and when they observe their mentors’ traits and see a connection to career success, they will want to adopt similar behaviors.

Mentors should model several different types of behavior. For example, technical expertise is important, but interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence hat have the greatest impact. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize emotional responses to situations and manage them productively. There are four attributes mentors need to demonstrate strong emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness. When mentors are aware of their own weaknesses and discuss them candidly with protégés, they are modeling self-awareness. For example, a mentor can ask a protégé for feedback on any aspect of the mentor’s performance. By accepting feedback without defensiveness, the mentor has set an example of behavior that the protégé can emulate.

2. Self-management. Self-management involves dealing positively with stress and not letting emotions overtake rational thinking when difficult challenges arise.

3. Relationship awareness. Mentors who have good relationship awareness are able to step outside themselves and see situations from others’ perspectives. They begin discussions by first trying to understand another’s viewpoint.

4. Relationship management. Conflict in situations or relationships can impede progress. A good mentor knows how to manage conflict by respecting others’ viewpoints and by looking for positive change.

MENTOR AND PROTÉGÉ

MENTORING AT WORK: ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES

An organization can maximize the potential of its internal workforce through mentoring programs. By developing its existing staff, a company can save on the cost of hiring from the outside, uncover hidden talent, boost staff retention, and see protégés direct their creative energy toward finding innovative solutions.

The key to a successful mentoring program is to match the right level of mentoring resources to the right workers. Different combinations of resources applied to different workers yield various outcomes. For example:

*Spending a limited amount of time and energy mentoring workers whose jobs are repetitive with limited growth opportunity may result in talent stasis, or decreased opportunities for people to create value within their organizations.

*Spending a large amount of mentoring resources across the board for everyone in the organization can result in wasted resources because not all workers have the potential to develop enough to justify the investment.

*Spending only a small amount of mentoring resources on people who have great upside potential results in wasted opportunities for development.

*Spending a large amount of resources on mentoring and carefully matching the right mentors to the right workers provides the best leveraging of talent and resources.

EFFECTIVE MATCHING OF MENTOR AND PROTÉGÉ

Informal mentoring occurs when a mentor and protégé naturally gravitate toward each other and form a bond. It is the most effective type of mentoring. It often happens when a senior leader in a company wants to help a junior member who is having career struggles similar to what the senior member once experienced. Or, a junior employee may aspire to a higher position and approach the senior person for advice. This type of mentoring relationship tends to have strong emotional components.

In formal mentoring, a company organizes a mentoring system to match mentors to protégés. Since people are directed to be together rather than naturally coming together, there will need to be a period of trust building and exploration of joint interests.

How organizations can make the best matches in a formal mentoring system is not fully understood, although it is sometimes compared to a dating service. An essential ingredient in the matchmaking is giving the mentee major input into the process. A company can compile a group of people who are willing to be mentors and then the protégés can select who they want to work with. Mentor profiles can help protégés find people with backgrounds, positions, or other qualities that might be a good fit. Other types of information that should be included in a mentor profile include:

*Background information, such as age, location, marital status, ethnicity, and college affiliations.

*Career details, including current and previous positions.

*Professional interests, such as an interest in technology or an industry specialty.

*Personal interests that can help build rapport, such as politics, sports, or fitness.