The Art & Skill of Real Time Coaching

By Randy Lisk, 2014

I work with people—managers, leaders, and others—who need to get things done for their organizations by cooperating with and leading other people. I help them learn the art and skill of coaching. Coaching is a methodology that helps people get what they want while the organization gets what it needs. The people I help are usually eager to gain new “tools for their management toolbox” and discover better ways to accomplish their goals. When we start to work together they sometimes say, “I can’t wait to use coaching on this person I have to work with.” It’s as if they think that, having been given the magic wand of coaching, all they will need to do is wave it to change another person into the person they want. They see coaching as an efficient way to manipulate or coerce another person–what we call “do to” influencing.

In reality, their using a “do to” way of influencing is often the problem that caused them to not get the results they want in the first place. “Do to” influence, as in “Do this or else,” is coercion that may get a result in the short term, but does not build a positive relationship and will cause more problems in the long term. Most people do not like being “done to.” It is not leadership and it is not coaching.

But as we continue to practice coaching together, they often change their view of the people they work with. They begin to see these other people as human beings who deserve respect and who may have their own, good ideas about how to do things. This insight leads coaches to realize that it is the coach who needs to change first. When coaches understand that by using a different approach—a “do with” style of influencing—those people who looked to them to be resisters, malcontents, and dead wood can become contributing members of the organization. Working with others instead of doing to others, the coach realizes, creates trust. Trust builds relationships, and stronger relationships create better results. Results flow from relationships.

Will there still be a few resisters, malcontents and dead wood in any organization? Perhaps, but in my experience they will be a small percentage, possibly 5%. The other 95% will respond positively when treated positively. Those are pretty good odds, and that is the reason I am committed to helping as many people as I can learn the basics of coaching. It positively impacts both the lives of the coaches and those they interact with.