Case Study Background:
I was involved in coaching Arun (name changed to maintain confidentiality of the client). Arun is a qualified HR professional who is in the field of training and development. Arun has done is post-graduation in field of Human Resources Management from one of the premium business schools in India and has set up his independent practice in the area of Training & Development for about two decades. Arun approached me for coaching sessions on specific issue that he had in his mind. Arun is based on North of India and I am Based on Western part of India, so we decided to have these meetings over skype.
Pre-session discovery meeting:
We decided to have a session to get to know each other better before our formal coaching session. We decided to have half an hour session before the actual coaching session. During this session, Arun wanted to know more about me, about my interests in life. We got to know each other little better. I also explained him about the coaching method that I follow and general principles that I have to adhere to as a coach. At the end of this call Arun told me that he is comfortable with me and we scheduled our next skype call.
Once we exchanged greetings and settled down for our call, I assured Arun that whatever we discuss during the session will remain confidential between the two of us and it is safe zone for him to discuss openly about any issue he has in mind.
Me: So, Arun, what would you like to discuss today?
Arun: I wanted this coaching specifically around a project that I have nurtured in my mind for some time but I do not know where to start and how to start. I have long cherished a dream of writing my own book. I think, I am at a right juncture in my professional where I should start this project but I have no clue whether I will be able to do it and what exactly I should be writing about.
Me: How important is this project to you Arun?
Arun: Well, it is important though my livelihood or anything that I am doing right now does not get impacted if I do not do it. But, it is important at two levels. One – I have always cherished this dream and authors have always occupied the highest place of honor in my own mind. This will take me very high in my own mind. Second – I think if the book does well, it will also benefit me in my profession of Training & Development as I will be perceived as a better thought leader.
Me: So what’s the issue?
Arun: I am not sure whether I will be able to write a book though I want to write it and I have still not decided on exact topic etc though I know that ideally I should publish my book around three years from now.
Me: What would you like as an outcome at the end of this session today?
Arun: At the end of today’s session I just want to feel confident about my ability to write the book. I am actually looking for that ‘Hi’ that will wash away my doubt.
Me: Arun – tell me the brightest spot of your career. When I say ‘brightest spot’ what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Arun: Interesting …. As soon as you mentioned brightest spot, what instantly came to my mind was my admission to the premium business school. You know that it is one of the most premium schools in the country and even today there is an extremely tough competition to get into the school despite so many options. I come from a small town and from a very humble background. So for me, it was not easy and I still can’t forget the feeling that I had when I finally entered the school – it was an overwhelming feeling!
Me: You sound so excited, so tell me more.
Arun: As I mentioned, I grew up in a small town where the exposure was limited. When I went to a college from my graduation to a bigger town, I saw some students preparing for various career options after the graduation. I came from a relatively low-income background and my aim was to get a job after my graduation so that I can help my ageing father. Some of my good friends were studying for the entrance examination for this particular B-School and had enrolled for a correspondence course. As I was always good in my studies, especially numerical ability, they used to come to me with their queries. I used enjoy solving those problems and soon I was almost conducting regular sessions for my friends. One of my friends in one of those sessions asked me about why am I not attempting the entrance exam. I told them that my priority was getting a job after my graduation. One of them told me that if I get into this college, sky will be the limit for my earning. The starting salary will be something that I will take years to reach without Post-graduation from this college. I was still doubtful as to how would I pay the fees, even if I get selected. My friends convinced me that I should cross that bridge when I come to it. I agreed and jumped in. We all eagerly awaited the results of the entrance examination and I was overjoyed when I got my admission letter from my college. I still even remember the postal stamp on that envelope that carried my admission letter!
Me: Wow! What happened then?
Arun: What happened afterwards was little mixed. While my parents felt proud, we all stared at each other about the financial burden that was to follow. I felt bad for my parents as they almost felt guilty for not been able to support me financially. You know that in those days in India – almost three decades ago the system of education loan was not fully developed and getting a loan was not easy. But as the luck would have it, my maternal uncle from Mumbai had come to stay with us for vacation. He was well-aware of the prospects if I completed my Post-graduation. He graciously agreed to give me the loan to pay my fees which I was to repay once I start earning. I still remember the day when my parents had come to drop me at the Railway station and I can still see them waving at me as the train moved.
Me: What was so special about that moment? Could you describe it to me?
Arun: Well, when I looked at my parents, I could see nothing but the joy on their faces. As if they could see the future – perhaps they felt that I will bring the change in all our lives. Deep inside I felt overwhelmed that I could be the reason of such a feeling for them.
Me: Could you see that same joy on your readers’ face when they read your book in the future?
At this point Arun suddenly burst laughing and then went quiet for some times. After some time he quietly said, ”Yes, I can”
Me: How do you feel right now?
Arun: I am feeling great! Almost at the top of the world right now! I just re-lived through the most incredible part of my life and in that zone I almost feel invincible. As they say I never looked back after that journey. Just feeling great!
At this point I felt that we have reached a point in our session where Arun was close to his expected outcome of feeling ‘Hi’ and I thought it was an appropriate point to ask him to summarize our today’s discussion.
Arun: You know what, I just feel like getting in touch with best part of myself. I feel great. This whole incident of ‘brightest spot’ in my career reminded me that I can do things which I may initially feel beyond me. I guess this is what I wanted from the session.
Me: Would you like to put any structure / support system in place to ensure that you continue feeling ‘hi’ in the moments of self-doubt?
Arun: Yes – I think it is fairly simple. Whenever I have a doubt about myself, I am just going to remember my parent’s lit up faces when they came to drop me at the station on that day. Thank you.
Me: Thank you Arun. Have a great time ahead.
We closed the call by fixing our next appointment in about a week’s time.
Our second session was exactly a week after our first session. It proved really a long session of two hours. This session dived more into Arun’s idea about the book and what he thought was unique about it. I avoid giving the detailed transcript of this session to maintain confidentiality of what Arun thought was a unique idea that would make his book a best-seller.
Following is the overview of the session:
After the initial assurance of confidentiality, I asked Arun about how he was feeling that day. He sounded very enthusiastic and told me about how happy he felt the whole week. In fact, he realized that he had never narrated his story to his kids. He told them his story and they were extremely touched by his story. Arun’s confidence was reinforced when he saw the same pride expressed by his kids just as he had seen with his parents!
When I asked Arun about what would he like to discuss, he told me that he would like to get into more specifics about direction in which he should start writing. When I asked him about the outcome, he told me that I would like to have a broad plan of action at the end of today’s session.
I asked Arun to visualize the function organized to release the second edition of his book after the first edition proved enormously popular. I asked him to describe the venue, people gathered in as much detail as he could. Once we covered the graphic description of the event along with the attendees, I asked him to tell me about what were they talking about Arun and his book. As Arun started little hesitantly first and then in full flow, he came up with many things about how his book had changed people’s lives. This opened a few options for Arun about what could be potential theme of the book.
Once Arun got excited about a few themes, we decided to sketch a “wheel of life” for Arun to describe the various factors that lead to publishing of his book. Once Arun filled up the details on wheel of life, he felt confident of working on his plans and we agreed to review the wheel of life every month for the next few months.
My learning as a coach:
I was relaxed as a coach and had a great respect for Arun as he was professionally senior to me. I was also curious about the theme as it was exciting to be part of someone’s long-cherished dream.
I have mapped my learning on ICF competencies as mentioned below:
|ICF Competency||Relevance to the Case study|
|Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards||Client was clearly explained that the discussion with him will remain confidential. This has been followed even during the narration if this case study including masking his identity and specifics of his idea. During the initial discovery meeting he was also made aware about the coach’s background as well as method and coaching started only after he was comfortable with it.|
|Establishing the coaching agreement||During the pre-session discovery meeting client was made aware about the coaching process and the details of coaching sessions like schedule/method of communication (skype) was agreed uponDuring each session, client’s expectations from the session were clearly established|
|Establishing trust and intimacy with the client||Pre-session discovery meeting was used to share details as well as the value system of the coach. This was used to let the client determine whether he wants to get into the coaching relationship. The trust was reinforced at the beginning of each session by reiterating the confidentiality.|
|Coaching presence||Coach decided to go with the flow and stay with the client. When the client needed motivation, the coach intuitively decided to bring out the gifts that the client already had to create a ‘hi’.In the first session coach decided to take the risk and asked the client the past to suddenly link to the future to create an ‘aha’ moment. Client burst out laughing but immediately connected the dots and the session moved forward rapidly.|
Coach also decided to use visualization in both the session to bring out the best in the client.
|Active Listening||Coach was in tune with the client through active listening. Eg. At the time when coach felt that client has come to the desired result, coach asked client to summarize in the first session. This helped the client to move quickly forward. Coach also asked client to expand more when he felt that there were more feelings left untapped which could bring out the best in the client.|
|Power Questioning||Coach talked very little and his questions created a flow in client’s mind. The questions like ‘Could you see that same joy on your readers’ face when they read your book in the future?’ moved the discussion quickly forward. Questions following visualization in second session also helped client to explore specific options.|
|Direct Communication||Coach always explained the process of coaching very clearly to the client.Coach was respectful of the client and the endeavor was always to bring out the best gift the client already possessed.|
Agenda, actions, support structure as well as way forward was clearly discussed in each session
|Creating Awareness||Awareness was created by clearly defining the process, assuring confidentiality and making client aware that the session was ‘safe environment’ to speak out.Coach also made client aware about the gifts that client already possessed in order to achieve his desired goals.|
|Designing Actions||Coach very clearly established action plan through wheel of life and the client established as-is and to-be state for each of the component along with the timeline for each segment. Coach and client also agreed specific review plan vis-à-vis the wheel of life. This was aimed to keep a evaluate direction and timeline of various actions|
|Planning and Goal Setting|
|Managing Progress and accountability|