Wasylyshyn (2003) conducted a study on the effectiveness of executive coaches, which produced a list of the most important characteristics of an effective coach. The ability to form a strong connection with the client was the most highly rated in terms of importance (86%). How to establish such a relationship flows from an acceptance of the criticality of this element, within a range of other important elements that contribute towards effective coaching.
So what helps create a strong coaching relationship?
Variations on a theme of critical factors produce a distilled list of categories rather than specific steps, required to establish a “strong connection” that include:
- Mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual freedom of expression (Flaherty, 2005)
- “hygiene factors” – time, place, confidentiality, fees. (Kilburg, 1997)
- Ability to engage in dialogue at more than one level (Anderson and Anderson, 2005)
- Positive unconditional regard (Rogers 1961).
- Non-possessive warmth (Rogers 1961).
Whilst empathy is also a frequent member on this “most wanted” list for coach traits and skills, it might be suggested, that with wide variations in worldviews, this is likely to prove the most challenging element for coaches to succeed in. Indeed I would suggest that in all but the rarest of cases such a skill is impossible to fully master.
Don’t coach in a vacuum
If we accept that coaching cannot occur in a vacuum and that therefore the relationship is central to effective coaching, it stands to reason that working hard at all the elements listed above, and more, should help ensure greater effectiveness.
Be Ever Mindful of The Golden Thread
You may find it really helpful, as many of my clients have, to imagine that the relationship between you is like an incredibly valuable Golden Thread.
Ask yourself often: What are you doing in every moment of your coaching sessions to help turn that Golden Thread into a Golden length of String, then into a Golden Rope and finally into a Golden Wire Cable? …and are you sure you are not doing anything to fray that connection and thus damage the relationship?
Photo with thanks: CarbonNYC
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