ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
At the very beginning of my coaching, I took the word partnering as granted. I did not dive with curiosity to find out what that is. I allowed myself to conduct my coaching blindly, without awareness of the deeper meanings of this word.
Now, as an assessor for the ICF, I am listening of how coaches partner with their clients in the coaching process. I seek evidence on how the coach responds to what the client brings into the coaching process. Moreover, I do that on how the coach partners with the client too.
For this purpose, it is useful to uncover my unconscious biases, drivers and needs that could interfere with the assessment process. This awareness and kind of Presence allow me to seek and gather evidence from what the coach responds to what the client brings.
A question that I ask myself is: where is this evidence going within the PCC Markers and other ICF standards?
The act of uncovering unconscious biases favors human relationships including Coaching.
Imagine that you are in a relationship with someone. The other party takes all the critical decisions that concern you including the relationship with this person.
What would your life be like in such a relationship?
In this kind of relationship, it might work to honor someone’s drives. And one could do this without taking completely into account what nurtures the other’s ambitions, needs, and values. Since this is serving and provides value to both the participants, the relationship might even be sustainable.
My interpretation of the relationship above is that one party takes the lead and control and the other party is led and controlled. It’s what I call the parts are co-dependent. So this is a dynamic when an element is in charge, and the other is following. The leader seems to be the expert. Neither one of the parts is autonomous. They rely on each other. Moreover, one is above the other. The leading expert is above the leaded follower.
While this is very human, such a dynamic would not create resilience nor autonomy. When the coaching clients are resilient enough, what they achieve becomes secondary and paradoxically achievable.
Partnering in coaching is about a way of Presence that is favoring a dynamic where the client leads the process with regards of content and direction and the coach supports that by responding to what the client brings into the coaching while bringing structure in a natural, emergent way.
The more mastery the coach brings into the relationship and process the more partnering is present into the coaching.
What are the different levels of Partnering in coaching?
At ACC level a critical mass happens when the coach partners with the client to establish a coaching agreement. Then takes into consideration that agenda into the coaching of the client.
At PCC level the coaching exhibits clear understanding and awareness of partnering. On top of What the client wants to achieve, the coach partners with the Who of the client in the relationship with the coaching agreement.
At MCC level the coach has mastered partnering, and the demonstrated coaching shows up consistently throughout the session.