Role of Coach
Earlier this month, I had the chance to conduct my first coaching session utilizing Gallup's strengths coaching model. Even though I've helped, "coached", and counseled individuals before, this experience was unique enough that I wanted to share a bit about the experience and some personal lessons.
My client for the call was a new Director of HR who was looking to expand his own strengths initiative within company of 50. He, like me, is a relatively new strengths coach looking for an external perspective. His background was in marketing, but has an intense passion for developing people. His top 5 talent themes are: Responsibility, Connectedness, Belief, Positivity, and Individualization.
During our call, I discovered his amazing passion for developing others. In talking about it, he made the realization this was a perfect reflection of his top 5, all of which have an "others" focus. He isn't happy if others aren't being served. I also came to learn that he relies a lot on his 6 talent theme of Relator to develop close relationships with all his colleagues.
The learning and ideas that came from our conversation helped him realize that he didn't need to "sell" the strengths initiative to the entire company all at once. Instead, he could use his marketing background, coupled with his Relator and Individualization talent themes, to devise personalized sales pitches for each of the seven team managers based on what ROI they might achieve by implementing a strengths approach.
I share this experience to help highlight three ideas that might be helpful to future clients (or to people considering becoming a strengths coach).
Strengths, and the StrengthsFinder assessment, do in fact have real world applications. By helping this client self-discover the intersection between his background, and two key themes, he now has an actionable plan.
Similarly, the path to reaching a goal doesn't have to look the same for everyone. This client thought he had to sell the idea of a "strength-based organization" to everyone all at once, because that's how he'd seen others launch organization-wide initiatives. In his case though, he realized that by leaning into his talents he could arrive at the same "strengths-based organization" goal, by establishing close partnerships with those who could help him sell and implement coaching on a team-by-team basis.
Finally, The role of a coach is not to drive the process. In our training it is emphasized over and over, that we coaches are not there to tell the person the right answer or tell them how to do something. We are not the driver in the client's car. It was by posing the right questions, and noticing patterns and connections the client wasn't immediately aware of that the client is able to make their own discoveries.