Coaching for Performance

Coaching for Performance by Sir John Whitmore

The author describes emotional as a life skill that is anchored on awarneess, including awareness of self (“understanding why you do what you do”), awareness of others (“seeing the person behind the performance”), and awareness of organization (“creating a positive impact on the culture”). Success is clearly stated as a coaching style over a command and control stucture. When this is happening the coach is building awareness of others iteratively so they are examining and rewriting self beliefs that then form the “foundation stones of their own future leadership capability”.

I find the definition of leader as coach is particularly helpful for many of us that find it being challenged to be given directives without clear context. When I was younger this seemed to be the style of boss I saw depicted in media, yet I spent a lot of years in music lessons and dance studios where I was given realtime coaching and feedback from teachers who were clearly leading what whas happening in the room, but doing so by moving around with incredible awareness and an eye to opportunities for learning moments and growth potential.

The author identies boss behavior of traditional management structures and their subsequent effect. This includes dictating/telling where the boss feels in control, persuading where the person being influenced wonders whether they really have choice or not, debating where both feel involved in the process, and abdicating where the direct reports have freedom of choice but may actually feel obligeed versus truly free to choose. I work with engineers, which means I’m often in the room with people who have spent years honing their craft of self management and have found that coaching anchored on rigorous, engaged conversation (and hopefully debate when we get into interesting terrain) to be the most effective. There are times in my career where I definitely have abdicated at times when I could have been more persuasive or engaged in more discussion, but this has led to lessons that has enrichened my management style. Ultimately many of my habits have been developed through experience and hearing feedback from the people I work with.