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  • Writer's pictureBruce O'Brien

Why coaching is not managing

For many years (just about 20 in fact), I worked for Shell. As a manager in Shell it was my job to lead teams and develop individuals not only to deliver their current goals, but also to fulfil their future potential for the company. This was always my passion and I would spend time developing coaching plans for my team to ensure that they would be their “best” and that they would have a successful career in Shell. Sounds pretty good huh? But when you take a step back and start looking at “best”, what does that mean? Who defines what “best” means to an individual? Well, in the corporate setting, “best” is defined by the individual (what their aspirations are), the manager (the potential they can see) and the company (the skillsets/ behaviours that are needed). But is this really best for the individual concerned? Who knows? And I, generously, would coach these individuals towards their “best” self. But I now call into question the use of the word “coach”. Because in that setting, coaching is helping an individual towards a goal or goals that have been defined by a number of people/ influences. However, as a Co-Active© coach, I know that coaching is something quite different. Coaching is about working out what YOU want and making sure that YOU get what YOU want. Get it? Coaching is about YOU!

This is one of the joys about being a Co-Active© coach – it requires me to get to know the best bits of my clients, to help them explore their wildest dreams, and to help them to realise their dreams by being their “best” self as defined by them. And this is what I want to highlight – that true coaching is like nothing else. You get to work with a coach who totally believes in you (as a coach, I can only coach clients that I believe in), who recognises your strengths, who will help you to develop where you choose to, and who will help you to articulate the dreams and goals that you choose and then push you hard to get there.

How many times have you heard yourself saying “I should do this or that or the other”… and yet, you don’t get around to it. I love working with clients on their “shoulds” and watching them gradually move away from things that they should do (which are usually things that someone else wants for them) to things that they wantto do – things that speak to their passions, things that excite them, and things that make them feel whole.

I want you to come and try it out. You’ve got to be brave to come to coaching as your coach is going to ask that you define clear goals (otherwise what are you paying us for) and that you work towards achieving them – but imagine doing that where you are totally in the driving seat, and you get to make the choices about how you grow and where you grow to.

Great leaders coach – but great leaders have their own agenda; great coaches have one agenda – and that’s YOUR agenda. So drop me a line now and let’s arrange a free sample session (45 minutes) and find out how coaching can work for you.

Bruce O’Brien is a leadership development consultant and professional Co-Active© coach.

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