A Coaching Model Created by Vanessa R Mazurek
(Leadership Coach, UNITED STATES)
4 Steps to Living Your Best Life, Both in and Outside of the Office
Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with having high standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. – Jennifer White
For as long as I can recall, I have been a perfectionist. A bona-fide “Type-A” personality, down to the letter; both self-identified and categorized in various ways via multiple personality tools including our dear friend, the Myers-Briggs (IST-J). A few years ago, I was reminiscing on childhood. In town visiting family, I spent some time pouring over old school-work and came across a report card from the second grade. Right there, in black font, on the creamy yellow-tan of the stock card paper, was a note from the teacher to my parents: “Vanessa seems to be deathly afraid of making a mistake. Please work with her to understand that mistakes are ok – it is how we learn.” My immediate reaction was laughter. You see, after all this time, more than 20 some odd years later, the note from the teacher still rang true. That fear of making mistakes had translated to a constant strive for perfectionism – in every area of my life. Over recent years, I’ve learned that constant search for perfection (which doesn’t exist by the way!) was polluting my life. The coaching process has led to a shift in my perspectives, and while it may take some reminding from time to time (old habits tend to die hard!) I’m learning to be kinder to myself.
Here is where the A+ Coaching Model comes in.
Perfectionism can be found in any setting, to include the workplace. My primary niche will be working with individuals in an organizational setting, and research illustrates both perfectionistic and ‘classic overachieving’ tendencies can lead to devastating impacts on individuals and teams when left ‘unchecked’. The A+ Model will redefine what we typically think of when we see or hear A+, and support individuals in their journey to being the best version of themselves.
Redefining A+ and the Model Dissected
With A+ often connoting “perfect” (as in “perfect score”), it’s important to define what the A+ Coaching Model is NOT before we go any further. The A+ model is NOT:
- About perfection or being perfect
- Meeting any specific standard
- Being the best when compared to another
- Reaching a certain level and the “work” is done
The A+ Model IS about being the best version of yourself, whatever that means to YOU, as defined by YOU. It is about helping the client reach his/her fullest potential and live their best life; a life in alignment with values and beliefs, providing the freedom of authenticity, and allowing the beauty within to shine through; both within and outside of the office.
Dissecting the Model
The A+ Model is comprised of four primary steps which drive the coaching process, leading clients to an empowered and inspired state. It is founded on the belief that to make true change, to grow, to remove barriers, to release those things that hold us back, and, to allow ourselves to move ahead, we must be 100% (A+) committed. We must also be continuously striving to learn and grow, to reach our greatest potential (aka self- actualize), to live our best lives in every area of our lives – to reach our own definitions of A+, with some extra credit sprinkled in (why stop at the A+…?!!).
The Model begins with the desire for change or growth; the initiating cue for a client seeking out a coach. This desire can be realized through multiple channels, to include feedback, which can be both internal (self-initiated as a response to something in the environment) or external (something that happens to an individual).
The four A’s at the core of the model include awareness, action, assimilation, and adjustment. They represent the major phases of the client’s journey, creating the overarching structure for change or growth. The variables in the center of the model; underlying beliefs, reframing, reflection, confidence, values, commitment, powerful questioning, and goals, all work concurrently, fluidly, like an ecosystem, throughout the core cycle, gently facilitating a client’s journey.
The shape of the model signifies the evolutionary nature of the growth or change cycle, while also reaffirming that one’s work is never done – there is always more awareness, action, assimilation, and adjustment to be discovered.
The colors comprising the model signify serenity, peace, and calmness. They can be likened to the various colors of the ocean. Each component of the model, its shape, colors, anchors, and the variables within, which drive the process, come together to create a self-sustaining body; one that is boundless and infinite, powerful and sure, fluid, and unrestrained.
Awareness is the initiating cue for the model. The catalyst which prompts the client to seek partnering with the coach. It is the recognition of having the desire to grow, make a change, or explore for deeper awareness around a given topic. While awareness here as the demand signal lays the foundation for beginning the journey, it is working through each of the four core phases of the model where context-specific awareness is deepened and refined. During this initial stage, the client may reach out to a coach for partnering, and coach and client may engage in their Discovery Session. It should also be noted that the length of time required in any given phase of the model will be client driven, and both specific to his/her unique journey, as well as the partnering relationship.
The first core phase of the model is Assessment. Assessment represents the process of discovery where coach and client are working to identify considerations around a given topic; the current situation, the “as is”, where the client would like to be, the “to be”, and the gap. It is through this assessment phase where coach and client will hone in on what the focus will be, and begin the journey of discovering how to make the shift. The coach partners with the client to explore and uncover the client’s underlying and/or limiting beliefs, barriers, values, confidence, commitment and goals, while leveraging key coaching techniques such as powerful questioning reflecting and reframing of perspectives.
Key to any coaching conversation is Action. The next phase of the model represents moving the client into action based on the assessment completed thus far. Action may take on any number of shapes and forms, and will be specific to each client. The client should define what action looks like to him/her, and should be willing to commit, as the action comes from within. It is important to note that as a coach, your role may be to challenge the client in support of stretching outside his/her comfort zone in support of continued growth and forward motion. Questions a coach may ask during the action phase include: “How will you hold yourself accountable?” and “What resources or structures/tools will help you in taking this action?”
The third core phase of the model is Assimilation. In assimilation, the client is implementing those actions he/she has committed to; trying them on for size. It is important during this phase to check in with the client on how he/she is feeling having taken the specific action chosen. Questions can include: “How did taking this step feel for you?”, “What impact did taking this action have on your desire to [x]?”, and “What other actions did you find yourself taking which you may not have previously identified? How did they work for you?”
The final core phase of the model is Adjustment. Adjustment occurs as a function of the specific actions the client has taken, when the client has discovered what is working or what may not be working to support alignment to his/her goals and continued forward momentum. It is in this natural phase of growth and development, where continued awareness supports refining to adjust course where and when needed.
Actualization is the end goal, where a client has met his/her goal for a given topic.
At the onset of working with a client, it is imperative to learn what the client’s desired state or goal may be. Once determined and an agreement is in place, the coach can begin the process of discovery to learn exactly where in the cycle of the A+ Model the client currently resides with the particular coaching topic or goal. The coach continues to use key coaching techniques at each phase of the model, facilitating the client’s journey and bringing greater awareness, breadth and depth to the client’s underlying and/or limiting beliefs, barriers, values, confidence, commitment and goals. It is important to note that a client reaching actualization does not necessarily signify the end of the partnering relationship. In fact, a client may move through the model several times over throughout the course of the partnership, on one, or several topics, as the client continues the cycle of assessment, action, assimilation, and adjustment.
J. W. (n.d.). Perfectionism Is A Refusal… Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.lifepowertip.com/perfectionism.html
My MBTI Personality Type. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/
Ross, R. (2012). Just Let It Go: Managing Perfectionism in the Workplace. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from https://www.peterberry.com.au/files/hogan_white_papers/derailment/just_let_it_go_-_managing_perfectionism_in_the_workplace.pdf
S. M. (2007). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Spreier, S., Fontaine, M. H., & Malloy, R. (2006, June). Leadership Run AMok: The Destructive Potential of Overachievers. Retrieved April 30, 2016, from https://hbr.org/2006/06/leadership-run-amok-the-destructive-potential-of-overachievers
Type A and Type B Personality Theory. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_and_Type_B_personality_theory
W. (n.d.). Personality Types: What Works for Executives. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from http://www.wolfmotivation.com/articles/personality-types-what-works-for-executives