A Coaching Model Created by Juliane Corman
(Executive Coach, UNITED STATES)
For my coaching model, I decided to provide an in-depth analysis of resources to direct my exploration of my own experience, and my model. As I will mostly be working as a leadership coach, I have taken particular resources into account. I am excited by the creation of my coaching model.
The Empowerment Model
a. What is the purpose of coaching in your model?
My model is called the Empowerment Model. The primary purpose is to define the client’s vision and goals, determine the barriers to reaching the goals, and work together with the client to take action, thus empowering the client to reach their goal. Because I draw on social psychology in my coaching practice, it is important that the client and I work as partners when considering their issue and barriers to their goal. Together, we holistically assess the situation surrounding their issue, which involves not only considering their individual personality but also the relevant environment, culture, and social dynamics. We identify any inhibitors to their goal, seek to understand them, and determine appropriate action to reach their goal (Peltier, 2010). The clients feel empowered by thoroughly understanding their issue and feeling able and prepared to overcome it.
Consistent with my model, I define coaching as a process by which a coach builds an open and trusting relationship with the client, thereby creating a safe environment where the client is supported in taking steps to identify and overcome barriers to reach their goals. Therefore, in order for my Empowerment Model to be successful, it is necessary to establish a relationship with the client based on trust and openness and create a nonjudgmental environment where the client feels safe. This relationship and environment is key to the client’s willingness to be open to new ideas, share, take risks, and feel vulnerable, which are often necessary components of the process if the client is to reach their goals. To illustrate my model further, I use the analogy of a ropes course, in which the client is navigating an environment that may make them uncomfortable or nervous.
Yet, in order to get to the end of the course and reach their goal, they must take the risk and be deliberate in their movements, therefore owning their actions. Yet, all the while, they can take comfort in the use of a harness to provide them with support and safety. Once completed, they can feel pride and responsibility for their accomplishment, while the harness was merely there to support them along the way.
Using my Empowerment Model, I hope that the client can establish positive outcomes, through understanding inhibitors, finding clarity and direction, and building ownership and responsibility.
b. What is the coaching process in your model?
The core of my model is comprised of relationship, safety, and rapport. Building a trusting relationship is the key to the success of my model and carries through the coaching process. We begin here with the contracting process. My intention is to ensure that the client feels safe with me and with the coaching process through contracting. Because of this, I ask the client if they have had coaching experience before, explain the boundaries and context of the coaching session, ensure that they know that I am there to work with them to help them with their situation, and establish my own legitimacy. In addition, I explain to them that I like to work in a way that will help them to consider new ideas and support them in reaching their own conclusions, but also that I intend to be honest with them and ensure that they are open to a level of directness. I explain that the process is not always easy, but that I am there to help support and empower them. I ensure there is a clear agreement to the terms of our engagement and tell them that I will check in with them periodically to ask how they feel our engagement is working for them (Peltier, 2010). I also make sure the client knows that I keep our conversation private and ask them if they have any questions before getting started.
Building on my research of models, reflective activities, and the purpose I hope to accomplish, my coaching conversation begins with Awareness. In this stage, we focus on the issue the client is facing, and what they would like to accomplish. I begin by asking them to define the issue and their goals for our engagement. I work to understand the issue at hand, why it is important to them, and what difference it makes in their lives. I also ask them to share what they have thought about regarding their situation thus far. This allows me to collect data, draw upon the clients thinking and avoid wasting time by posing questions about something the client has already thought about. We continue by analyzing the current situation, focusing on collecting objective data, the facts about the holistic context surrounding the situation. This data may include, for example, considering patterns in the client’s actions or personality, the organizational culture, and the social dynamic of the client’s peers. While the initial objective data will come from questioning the client, additional objective data may be gathered by speaking with those who work with the client, collecting 360-feedback, or through the use of assessments, assuming client permission. Depending on the client’s situation, an assessment tool may helpful in allowing the client to more clearly define his or her area of struggle. For example, if the client has approached coaching because they struggle with understanding their subordinates, perhaps I would suggest that the client take an emotional intelligence assessment, such as the Emotional Social Competency Inventory (ESCI), in order to more succinctly identify where they may struggle and define clear areas for improvement (Goleman, 2001). Once objective data is collected, subjective data is considered as we explore the experience and emotions of the situation, as well as their feelings about the objective data. Finally, we collect interpretive data, which allows us to make sense of the data collected and understand how the aspects of the situation outlined in the objective data may connect to the client’s experience and emotions (Hogan, 2003). With this we are able to build Awareness and understand the situation from a more holistic perspective.
Once there is an Awareness of the current situation, we move to Explore. In the Explore stage, we define the goal and ideal future state. In this stage the client will visualize the state, and identify how it feels and why it’s important (Peltier, 2010). In this visualization, we try to identify all of the aspects surrounding the ideal future state that will make it possible and support it in becoming a reality. I will ask questions that will allow the client to engage in reflecting and identifying the obstacles that may inhibit reaching their goal, both personally and externally. These inhibitors could range from overcoming anxiety around change to building a team, for example. These questions may also lead a client to acknowledge how they may be getting in the way of their own success. Labeling the internal and external roadblocks will allow us to focus on how to overcome these barriers.
Once the future state and roadblocks are identified, we move on to Empower, which centers on developing and adjusting action plans. At this stage, I work with the client to identify realistic methods to reach the goal and address the feelings around that plan. We will also discuss what the client needs to be successful in following through on their plans. We will first consider what they have done to overcome these inhibitors in the past, and assess what was successful and what was not. Depending on the issue, it may be appropriate for there to be a single action plan, 2-3 plans occurring simultaneously, or sequential steps to the plan. We will revisit the action plans, discuss what is working and what where the client may be struggling, and make modifications as needed. With the evaluation of action planning items there is a new Awareness of what is working, thus restarting the Empowerment Model cycle.
The model has bidirectional arrows to demonstrate the importance of being fluid, following the client in conversation and supporting their needs. In addition, throughout the process, it is my intention to engage in active questioning and listening, providing feedback, and promoting positive outcomes.
c. What are the key elements of the coaching relationship in your model?
The core of my model centers on trust and rapport. The coaching relationship is entirely based on Carl Rogers’s person-centered approach, based on empathy, trust, communication, and listening (Peltier, 2010). I want to create a safe space where clients feel that they can share openly and know that I am listening. In my contracting, I am sure to ask them if they have any questions about the process, explain that I keep anything they say confidential, and tell them that I want them to feel that this is more of a conversation. I show congruence, positive regard and acceptance, and empathy (Peltier, 2010), which I believe are supported by my high Emotional Intelligence and empathy, as demonstrated in past assessments.
In addition, it is important that this level of trust, safety, and openness is established as I intend to engage in honest labeling when necessary. While I will provide perspective on what I am hearing from the client, and hope that they are able to come to realizations and work towards their goals, I will also point out if I feel that they are engaging in avoidance or displaying signs of the behavior that they are hoping to overcome, for example. Because this honest labeling can be uncomfortable for the client, it is important they are able to remain open and trust that this discomfort, and understanding it, may be a key to them succeeding in reaching their goals. While I am likely to share my reflections from the beginning of the coaching relationship, I will likely wait until a trusting rapport is established before engaging in honest labeling.
This person-centered approach centered on empathy, understanding, and communication is at the core of my model because, without it, we would be unlikely to make any progress (Peltier, 2010).
d. What key skills are included in your model?
Many of the skills included in my model center around the person-centered approach. In order to engage with my client and create a trusting relationship, I will draw upon my propensity for self-awareness and self-management, as demonstrated through my emotional intelligence assessments. I will engage in active listening, where I will restate their issues, paraphrase what they have said, and connect and summarize the client’s statements. Because the client can often say all the thoughts in their head out of confusion or frustration, I will use this skill to restate what I hear in order to create new clarity for the client. I will also use skills of physical listening, using my posture, mannerisms, and eye contact to show that I am interested, engaged, and present (Peltier, 2010). This physical listening is an important key in building trust. Furthermore, I will also read the client’s body language to identify what spaces create comfort for them and what topics or questions may cause them clear discomfort. These may be important areas to label and examine further.
In addition, I will use my ability to maintain a learner mindset to ask poignant and relevant questions of the client in order to discover the issue, and explore possible solutions together (Goldberg, 1998). Using a learner mindset will allow me to be open and empathetic. It also requires me to be completely present when engaging in a coaching session. This skill is paramount if I am to have any success as a coach.
When relevant, I may draw upon my skills in role-playing, developed through growing up performing in theater productions, to provide the client an opportunity to practice a new behavior. For example, if a client is facing a difficult discussion, I may act the role as his or her boss to allow the client to practice the conversation and become familiar with how they may feel.
Finally, I will use my knowledge of social and organizational psychology including change management, emotional intelligence, and group dynamics to bring relevant perspective to the issues that the client may face, which I discuss in more detail in question g.
e. What is your coaching style as a function of your cultural background, experiences, strengths, and specialized interests?
My coaching style centers around the idea of empowerment, and empowering people to make decisions, and feel comfortable taking risks or going outside of their comfort zone. This style is highly dictated by my values and beliefs, and developed with the support of my reflective exercises (Lennard, 2010).
First, I am a white, highly educated, liberal, feminist, Jewish woman who has grown up and lived most of my life around New York City and the East Coast. I attended an all-women’s college and identify most strongly as a woman, caring tremendously about women’s empowerment, especially in the workplace. I am also married to a strong, highly educated, white man who is a partner in a financial firm, and trying to fight the corporate culture to support nonwhite males in the field. In addition, my experiences and interests center on the idea of making a positive difference for people and the world. I grew up in a non-profit family doing community service work, majored in Human Rights in college, have a Masters degree in Public Administration, and have had careers in non-profit and government. Because of all of these factors, my Empowerment Model not only centers on empowering women, but also on empowering those who are trying to make a difference and want to have a voice, as well as supporting those who want to provide others with a voice.
Furthermore, I have always been a caretaker and will always be available to selflessly support someone I care about. I will connect, support, and listen to any friend or family member who is going through a difficult time and show up whenever necessary. I am also known as the friend who will give honest, and sometimes difficult feedback, because I am not afraid to share with someone I care about when I believe it will help them. My propensity to care for others and support them in difficult times directly ties to my desire to engage in coaching and help others. It also highlights the importance of building a trusting relationship with my clients, where they too can see me as someone they trust.
This background, experience, and interests ties to my strengths of high emotional intelligence and empathy, which will allow me to understand, relate to, and support my clients. My style and model centers on supporting the client in harnessing their strength and courage to overcome obstacles and make that difference for themselves and others.
f. How will you work with people whose styles are different?
There will occasionally be clients who are resistant to coaching, or disinterested in building rapport and trust. Knowing that it will be difficult to address their issue if they are not interested in engaging, I will approach the client with a learner mindset and remain open with them (Goldberg, 1998). I will try to engage with them around their ideas of coaching and see if I can try to understand their hesitation. In some instances this will allow us to advance in our coaching engagement, while in other cases it may not be a worth either of our time to continue coaching.
For those client’s whose style is aggressive, closed-minded, judgmental, and driven entirely by a need to achieve more power, I will have to practice patience and spend additional time trying to understand their context, environment, and behavior (Peltier, 2010). While I am willing to retain the learner mindset with these clients to see if they are willing to become more open, in some cases, they will not be a good match for my model and may be best suited to a different coach. However, if I do not morally agree with the purpose of the organization or the client’s goal, or if I am personally offended by a client’s conduct or worldview, I will likely not be able to remain open. Once I find that I am in or would be likely to be in a judger mindset with a client, I would refer them to another coach (Goldberg, 1998). Once I move into the judger mindset, the trust and rapport will be damaged, and I will no longer be able to support the client.
g. What are the ethical guidelines in your coaching model?
Because I believe the relationship between the coach and client is built on trust, it is important to me that confidentiality is outlined from the beginning. My preference would be that everything that the client shares with me would be kept confidential, within legal limits. Any performance data collected for the purpose of coaching, or information about the coaching conversation, would remain with the client, unless there is consent to share it with the organization. If the organization asks for updates about a client’s progress, I would only provide high-level information, such as stating that the client is making progress. Even with this, the client and the organization must agree upon this level of information sharing. It is important to me that all boundaries are laid out in initial contracting in terms of timing, scheduling, and relationship. These boundaries can be revisited as necessary.
In addition, I am very comfortable discusses personal situations if brought up by the client and relevant to the coaching situation. However, if I am finding that a client could find value in working through the psychological complexities of something they have brought up in our session, I may suggest that they speak to a trained therapist.
Finally, if I learn in a coaching engagement that a client is hoping to leave their job, I will likely work with the client to understand their reasoning and support their decision. I believe that my job is to empower and support the client and their goals. I believe that if a client does not want to work at an organization, it is in the benefit of both the client and the organization to support the client in transitioning out.
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