Coaching for impact – whose agenda are we following?


Everyone has an agenda or list for their life. That list might change a lot, or it might remain relatively static.

Last week I ticked off an item that I’m not sure I even knew was still on my list – getting married. I thought about it a lot when I was young and later assumed it was never going to happen, and so shelved it.

I got married for the first time in my life at 52. Several people said to me, oh you looked so relaxed! I’m sure it is a lot easier to be relaxed at your wedding at 52 than 22! I sure was less worried about what other people thought and was able to focus on my happiness for the day, more than I would have years ago. I had probably the best day of my life. It was beautiful to spend time with friends and family, just celebrating life and celebrating each other with my husband. There were a few happy tears from lots of us.

In addition to our agenda for ourselves, we often have a plan for the people around us or assume they have an agenda for us. We tend to hold judgements about whether they are with the right person, in the right job, good at their job or are taking care of their wellbeing etc. These judgements make it much harder to hold the individual in high esteem and always focus on what they consider is their highest good. When coaching especially, it’s far more effective to focus on questioning and listening to help the individual you are coaching achieve their goals, rather than what we might consider right or wrong.

One of the elements of good coaching is suspending our judgement about what is the ‘right’ outcome and making the focus the goal that the individual (coachee) wants. Sometimes the agenda isn’t clear until they genuinely understand ‘why’ they want the goal. When the ‘Why’ is clear, the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ are clearer, and the next steps or insight comes more easily.

There is a natural dichotomy in leadership coaching between the goals of the organisation, the leader and the individual’s goals. As a leadership coach, it’s about finding the intersection between the ‘why what and how’ for both the organisation and the individual. Where those things line up is the place where energy can be truly harnessed, to get excellent outcomes for the individual and the team/organisation. I’ve been working on a workshop to illuminate this intersection of organisational and individual strengths and goals and am excited about using it soon.

In the meantime, here are three ideas to apply in the next coaching session you have, it might be on the sports field, with your children or coaching at work:

1. Mindfulness
Are we giving the coachee our 100% attention? Or are we thinking part of the time about our dinner tonight, the next meeting, progress on the end of month target or 100 other things? Better to do a 30-minute coaching session and be fully focused than an hour of partially focused. We all know when we are listened to, and we respond accordingly.

2. Strengths
Are we clear on the strengths of our coachee? Do they know that we know? Have we considered the ways we can harness those strengths right now and how this will help the individual to achieve more of their own goals? What do they think about this, and what would they like to happen to evolve their strengths?

3. The Why
How do you articulate the reasons your organisation does what it does? Why do you do what you do? Why does your coachee come to work, life or the sports field, and what do they get out of it? Making sure this is clear for all is important to allow the coachee to tap into their motivation. An individual can’t be driven by someone else. We can only motivate ourselves in the long run;

It all sounds simple. No, I don’t think so. It’s easy to get into a routine with regular coaching as a leader and move through a catch up without doing any of these things.

What you resist persists and what you focus on grows. What focus or agenda are we putting on our interactions with others as a coach or leader? What do we want to grow and evolve in others or ourselves?


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