A Coaching Model Created by Iulia Serban
(Leadership Coach, SWITZERLAND)
There are many challenges around us: we live in a very complex environment, an ever-changing world with a lot of risks, opportunities and at the same time a lot of ambiguity. This is leading to many of us being always busy, always in a rush – not even having the time to take a step back, reflect and change course when needed. This is what I see a lot around me in my work – people are too busy to be with themselves. To make sense of all this in organizations – in many instances there is the reductionist approach: put people in some boxes, categorize them, apply judgment, find their gaps, and then fix them with a one-size-fits-all type of intervention.
I would argue that Coaching manages to do the opposite of that. Coaching assumes that every individual is unique and more than that – every individual is perceived as a whole, with a lot of talents, strengths, life experiences, allowing them at any moment in time to tap into all of these resources to find the best solutions for themselves. The coach will start the relationship by believing in this potential of their clients. They will then nurture their whole being of their client by being a caring and compassionate listener, a challenger, a cheerleader at times – the perfect partner you can find on your journey of becoming better (at something) or even just becoming – whoever you hope to be.
As much as the coaching relationship is like a dance together with your client, like most of the dances, coaching also needs a clear structure for the 2 partners to use the framework to create something wonderful together. The below coaching model is nothing more than trying to make sense of that structure that will surround the coaching conversation.
So what is DANCE?
Discover the Direction
What is, in fact, the desired outcome for the client, what made the client come into the coaching relationship? Where are they heading?
This is the first step ensuring that the client is getting clarity around what they would like to achieve and where they want to focus their creative energy. The desire to work on oneself can appear due to:
- Intrinsic factors (one’s desire to become better at something or get a new role or just improve an aspect of their life) or
- Extrinsic factors (feedback received from their surrounding or a preparation step for a bigger challenge or a transition in their role or transition in life).
One of these factors or triggers usually prompts the client to be ready to work on themselves, allowing them to have energy around the respective goal, ownership, and a perceived sense of urgency.
A small sample of possible questions that can support the discovery phase:
- What is your life purpose? Who do you want to be?
- What brought you into a coaching relationship?
- What are your biggest hopes from this relationship?
- What are you hoping to achieve?
- How would you write the goals you want to achieve through being coached?
- How can I, as you Coach, contribute the best to your journey?
- How would you know you achieved your goals?
Who is the client – beyond what the client wants to achieve in coaching?
A heightened level of Self-Awareness is built-in coaching through creating spaces for self-reflection, offering the client the chance to meet their self in the mirror and bringing to the surface those conversations that most of the time are too hidden in ourselves.
It is most of the time a journey of moving the focus from the external world – the noisy one, always-on, moving, continuously asking something of us and giving us yet another task on the list – into your self, looking at what happens really within yourself from a mental perspective as well as a heart perspective. Too much of our time is spent in the outside world and too little of it is left for us to work from within, to take care of ourselves. In this context, the coaching space is one of complete safety, where the client will be able to listen to herself, to think out loud, to have the types of inner conversation that allows to understand oneself – our motivations, desires, needs, values and belief system, our purpose and to look how aligned our current actions are with all of these.
The types of questions that could lead to more self-awareness, without being exhaustive:
- What motivates you? What drives you?
- What are your core life values?
- What are some of your key strengths?
- If you could change magically one thing about yourself - what would be that?
- How would this change serve you?
- What might stand in your way?
Generate New Ideas and Insights
How could I go after this? What might be an innovative approach I can create for myself?
The next aspect is about exploring with the client innovative ways to transform the self-awareness into a new set of ideas. This is a critical step that allows the client to be in a creative flow, accompanied by the coach who will just softly create the space for that creativity to be explored. The client will many times feel this as a generative act. In some circumstances, this might be perceived as a positive experience, while some other times the dialogue might take the client on understanding deeper elements such as limiting beliefs and working deeper on understanding and re-writing the story for those before they can move into the positive mind frame to be able to create solutions.
One of the best parts of the new ideas is that it will provide the clients with an understanding of how resourceful they are as individuals. Many of them will understand their greatness in this process, realizing how much potential lies in themselves.
This will most of the time take the form of a series of actions that the client can take to move them towards the newly discovered new state.
Some thought-provoking questions to enable the idea creation:
- What is the best possible outcome you can envision?
- What options can you think of?
- Imagine we are three or six months down the road and you achieved your goal.
- Take me there and tell me more about it?
- How does it make you feel?
- What have you done to arrive here?
- If time or other constraints would be no issue, what would you do?
- What are the first three options that come to your mind on how you can solve this?
- If you get very radical, what would be some new action you want to try out?
- What could you change in yourself that would change your current situation?
- What fears or doubts might hold you back from moving forward? What would it take to remove these obstacles?
Create Clarity on next steps
Through this step, the client will ensure to create an accountability system. The main trigger for this step is because a plan on paper can look perfect – but as we know, a plan is only as good as the actions that are deriving out of it and the execution.
The client will need to identify what support mechanisms they have within themselves and how to use some of those to hold themselves accountable. Also – what are some of the external support mechanisms that the client can use to ensure they reach their established actions.
Clarity is also about getting to a realistic plan – something that the client is willing to commit to and able to achieve it. It is less about establishing a long task list, but rather establishing one thing at a time the client can do to prove to himself or herself that they can take the new path they established for themselves. The smaller that step is, the easier it will be to mark it as an achievement. By taking the small step, the client will gain towards the action plan and through this build the momentum. Additionally – this helps with integrating these actions in a busy life and allow gathering a series of small successes that will build towards the bigger goal.
A couple of possible questions to support this step of the model:
- To make this new idea into an actionable step – what exactly are you going to do?
- What would be the first step you can take?
- What could you do as of tomorrow?
- What support mechanisms do you have in place to help you with achieving this commitment?
- Who could support you in achieving the actions you committed to?
- How could you keep yourself on track?
- Is there any obstacle to getting this done that we can address now?
- Are you ready to commit to this step?
Reflect on Evolution and Learning
What is the client learning about himself or herself in the process of being coached? How is the client able to access more of themselves in the process?
This step is the one that will ensure that the client, to ensure that they take learning from each session and can integrate the new levels of self-awareness into the evolving selves, is also measuring progress. What is the client learning new about themselves and how can these new learning serve them for other parts of their life.
A couple of possible questions to support the strengthening of learning:
- Checking in on your initial objective, where are we now?
- You mentioned you wanted to <goal>. On a scale from 1 to 10, how far are we in achieving this session’s goal?
- What is your learning from this session?
- How would you like to bring this learning to your life?
- What would you like to do with this learning now?