Distinctions on levels of Coaching Mastery
Coaching mastery metaphor made simple
I once worked with someone mentioning: chess is the game of the day. Imagine responding to that: “What is a checkmate move?”
When clients bring a metaphor, this is an access point to the client’s unique wiring and their world. We could be responsive in those moments. Our curiosity could tap to this world, and if pertinent, the client’s being could emerge into a new world. Or merely reveal new perspectives. And those might shift the who of the client and then be able to act differently in the relationship with the outcome the client brought to the session.
I have wondered so much time of what would be an excellent metaphor to reveal distinctions simple, useful, and practical. That would enable us to grasp deeply, several differences that would bring our best into the coaching with the client.
Have you ever enjoyed dancing with someone? In any dancing couple, there is one leading, a male part and one part that is led, a female part. I am a man. I enjoy dancing in pairs. The best dances I had were those in which the female role was flowing freely along me.
The ones I felt unusual were those in which my partners were leading. We were merely competing with each other. They were driving me, and I was resisting. Alternatively, maybe when I chose to allow myself to be guided, I had an awkward feeling. It felt as if I have no control and that is scary. I felt anxiety.
With other dancing partners, it felt strange to lead the dance. I was remembering there were moments where I was driving the dance whereas there were other moments my dancing partner led the dance. Sometimes I was conscious of what happens, and some other times I was running on autopilot. Just in flow with the rhythm of the music. It is interesting that my physical stance favored or not how I was able to lead the dance and the whole dance dynamics.
Imagine now a tango dance. Alternatively, Salsa if you will. Alternatively, Waltz or just something you resonate.
At the beginning at ACC level, we tend to lead the client towards what they state as an outcome. When demonstrating PCC we are releasing control regarding content and direction to the client, and from time to time we could unconsciously take control and then let it go back to the client. When we demonstrate an MCC level although it might be scary, we let go of power, or our unconscious drives and let the client be in charge of leading the dance towards an outcome. At MCC level the client entirely leads the dance and we are inhabiting a feminine pose almost doing nothing. Hence paradoxically the clients become autonomous, resilient regardless if they reach or not the outcome they bring into the coaching.
I still hesitate as I write this. This dialogue sets me into an expert position, the one who might know better than you. It feels awkward as if I could be feeling much better into an underdog position. However, I will manage this and keep sharing with you a few masculine – feminine polarities that show up into our coaching with the client.
Directive VS Partnering
One of the assumptions of coaching is that “the client is naturally creative and whole.” Hence they have all the tools and resources to live an autonomous life. That means that with a stated objective or outcome any time we take charge for the direction of the coaching dance we inhabit a directive polarity.
Partnering is about having a quality of coaching presence that creates a context where the client is in charge of the content and the direction, and the coach responds to that. Being a partner with the client in this dance is answering to the content and direction brought by the client. It’s merely about allowing yourself to flow with curiosity where the client leads the dance.
No control. No structure. No formulaic questions.
Structure of the session, the one we might force into the coaching at our beginnings, and dancing patterns emerge as paradoxically doing nothing but responding to what the client brings into question.
What – Problem Solving VS Who
At the very beginning at the coaching school I was asked:
Are you coaching the problem?
And then told:
Coach the Client, not the Problem.
I still notice people asking questions that put the attention on the problem, on the “what.” In our dance, this might seem like looking in the client’s desired outcome direction before the client and doing the step towards that direction dragging the client along.
In such a situation we might want to show interest and dance in a way that is curious about how the client is dancing in the relationship with the desired outcome. And bring awareness of how the clients stand in connection with the issue. We might notice patterns of how the clients hold, or the geography of the dance, or maybe patterns of rhythm or changing of postures as they dance to the rhythm.
Unconscious Roles VS the Coaching Role
Are we teaching them how to dance? Are we consulting them how to stand or maybe tell them how to step on the floor? Or are we evoking moments of how they danced in the past? Or perhaps are we pampering them as if they are children which need to be told how to hop, where to go and how to stand?
In the beginning, we might be unconsciously stepping into these roles. The more experienced we are and self-aware the more undressed of content and desire is our presence. The more feminine is our energy, the simpler we follow curiously the client in our dance with them.
Unconscious Projections and Needs VS Client Driven Awareness
The client brings the music and the rhythm. Then, chooses the path within the dancing floor. Are we as coaches unconsciously forcing our melody, direction, and rhythm?
Are we fulfilling our own needs, are we stuffing the client with questions or communication that would satisfy our drives?
We could, in contrast, be present to our reactions or responses to what the client brings and put them back in the dance of the client with their outcomes, issues, qualities.
Formulaic, Structure-Based, Marker Driven VS Here and Now
We could be dancing the client in an apparent harmonious way. Or we could be having gracious movements. Another way is to be doing this from a top dog posture, and the client could be happily enjoy being held into an underdog position because we have all been children and we’re very familiar and comfortable with the posture of a child. And someone taking care of us.
The client could cooperate and leave us the burden to lead the dance, being directive with formulaic communication that does not respond to, but instead directs the client.
In this way, we could all unconsciously avoid being in the here and now. And we as coaches avoid responding to what the client brings and, or how this affects us.
We could be choosing to be the feminine part of the dance and be here and now, respond to this and let the client take charge of the dance, the coaching, and outside of it. In life, in the relationship with the issues, they bring into the coaching.
Eventually, our questions and communication might fall into pieces and bring structure to the coaching and not the other way around.
The Value Paradox
In any of the above dynamics, the clients receive value. All the non-coaching postures enable a process where the client gets value. Hence when we are not in a coaching role, we might feel responsible for the client taking benefit from the dance. But since the client is naturally creative and resourceful, the client could bear the responsibility to take ownership of receiving value from the process.
The more we accept the client could be dancing without us setting the direction, the freer the client dances.
In the end, if we have a single quality that put into the light would do the whole dance shift, what is that quality of yours?