Coaching Key 1 – Motivation

The coaching client’s motivation is paramount to the success of the coaching process. It is gas for the engine in a coaching endeavor and without it we just talk about going somewhere, but end up stranded on the side of the road.  Motivation often comes from the pain and struggle of life’s experience causing a healthy dissatisfaction with the status quo. This dissatisfaction can birth a clear, clean desire for change or clarity of direction as the case may be.

In one of my earliest experiences as a professional coach, I coached a person who was happy to show up and pay the coaching fees, but had no genuine motivation for change. At first I didn’t understand why I was uncomfortable with this scenario. Though I eventually stepped out of that coaching relationship, it still taught me a most valuable lesson: I only want to coach motivated people.  One of the intrinsic rewards that keeps me coaching is to see people make the break-through changes they want, and to grow in healthy self-confidence in the process. The client’s motivation is a critical element in the uphill challenges of change.

Coaching Key 2- Trust

Trust is oil for the gears of a coaching relationship.  Trust is earned not just given.  What can we do as coaches to earn the trust of our clients? To start with, we begin by creating an atmosphere of safety by our gentleness, encouragement and honor. Our perspective must be one of a partner and friend not an instructor or master. Our compassion and our heart to serve can be easily picked up by others and lays the cornerstone for trust. Modeling vulnerability, humility and authenticity communicates it is safe to be honest here and you won’t be looked down upon for what ever you say. A trustworthy place of safety is essential if we want people to open up with the issues of their own hearts and desires.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

Leadership Key 1- Genuine Listening

How important is your listening as a leader? Do those you lead feel you are consistently listening well and really hearing them? In our fast paced culture with it’s pressures, we must be personally vigilant as leaders to slow down and give the gift of listening: A genuine listening that seeks to understand and not just to reply.

Many times leaders are specially gifted with wisdom and are looked to for this grace. Wisdom with humility causes leaders to be eager to hear and learn from the diversities of giftings and insights in those around them. The insights and input from those in our team is called “Intellectual Capital” and it does us good to think of it as a gold mine resource. Those with different giftings than us, see the world from very different paradigms. Their input is invaluable.

Asking and listening creates a culture that communicates every member is valuable and has a voice to be heard. Inviting their input on a regular basis opens a viable channel of communication and access to you as the leader. Great leaders are great listeners. Let’s lean into the grace for and an increase of Genuine Listening!

Leadership Key 2- Transferring Ownership

How do we help cultivate passion in those that follow, so they will be fully engaged in their responsibilities?  Where the motivation is not one of duty or obligation, but out of personal ownership for the role?  Engaging the heart of those who are on our teams releases creativity in them. If empowered properly, they will reach their greatest potential and success. Those who work for us, dutifully give us their heads and their hands in their services, but the offering of the heart is totally voluntary.

We must ask how to gain the loyalty of the heart and the full engagement of those who follow us. Part of that process is “transferring ownership.”[1] Simply put, we must release part of our ownership of the job to them and take the role of coach instead of commander.

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity,” Gen. George Patton.

Leadership keys for transferring ownership:

  •      Choose the right people for the task and coach them to success
  •      Genuinely encourage and show interest
  •      Share decision making in the initial and ongoing stages of the project
  •      Be supportive especially in the face of mistakes
  •      Give clear communication and parameters

The hard work and challenges of capturing the heart of your team is diverse and unique to each situation, but the reward of the empowerment culture is always priceless.

“People rise to the challenge when it is their challenge.”[2]

Written by Martin Flack,  Riverstone Coaching & Consulting

Edited by Mollie Flack & Elizabeth Woning


[1] Belasco, James A. and Stayer, Ralph C., (1994) Flight of the Buffalo New York: Warner Books

[2] Ibid. p33


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