A Coaching Power Tool Created by Irene Lee Lai Kean
(Transformational Coach, SINGAPORE)
In my coaching exposure, there have been numerous individuals that I have met who feel “stuck” in their lives in different situations. It may be at work, at home or simply their self-being.
What’s interesting in this tool in my coaching practice is that many times, clients are stuck because they are “fearful’. The source of fear is very often coming from their “ignorance”. The biggest contributor to such ignorance is not understanding or knowing themselves well enough. This boils down to “self-awareness”. This tends to spiral into low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Let me quote a real life case study. Name used in this article is not real for confidentiality reasons.
When I first met this client of mine (fictitiously named Robert), Robert came across to me as being tensed and nervous. When seated opposite me at the table, Robert would clench his hands together in front of him resting on the table. He would not look at me straight in the eyes, he was always looking down at his clenched hands. In order to build rapport and trust between Robert and myself as his coach, it was absolutely important to assure him that we were in a safe space where :
- It was non judgemental, and
- Confidentiality was the number 1 rule
Hence, while advocating this, it was imperative for me (the coach) to be totally present with the client and actively listening to what he was saying and not saying.
Robert held a good position in the large organisation he was working for. He was dedicated and had been a loyal serving employee but he was frustrated that he did see nor experience advancement in his current career. He did not understand what was the problem and was contemplating moving to another organisation, feeling that there was no room for him to advance in his current job.
In the course of our coaching conversation, it became apparent that he had an underlying belief that he was not a good communicator. He felt that he did not have a good command of the English language and that made him fearful to speak up to his peers and his boss. When his boss delegated a piece of work to Robert, he did not understand fully the boss’ intentions due to the language barrier but he was too afraid to ask lest his boss might think that he was not good enough for the job. This resulted in a lot of stress and additional effort on Robert’s part to get the job done well.
He spent most of his energy dwelling on how bad his English language was that he has almost totally overlooked or oblivious about how good he was at his work.Now, it was necessary to shift Robert’s perspective. How to create awareness of what was really important to Robert ?
Connecting with strengths, creating awareness and gaining clarity – these strategies help to bring about positive energy in the client.
Help the client to connect with what he is good at, together with powerful questions such as :
- What contributions have you made in your organisation ?
- What achievements have you accomplished ?
- How can you bring about more of these accomplishments ?
- What experiences did you feel impactful about ?
Moving the client’s focus on what he was good at and recounting on those wonderful feeling of achievements helped him build positive energy. This is a good booster for self-esteem, self-value and self-love.
When the focus has shifted out of the negative space, this empowers the client to “let go” and start to place less significance on his flaws, in this case it was Robert’s English language proficiency.
In the latter coaching sessions, Robert shared with me his ability to let go that “fear” and made the effort to communicate openly without too much concern over his “broken” English. There was an obvious shift in his belief and now he places TRUST in whatever he needs to convey as long as his intentions and ideas are understood by his peers and most importantly, his BOSS !! In one of the presentations that Robert did, his boss commended him for the best presentation he had ever heard. Robert did, eventually, gotten a promotion at his current role.
Using the Power Tool of “Fear vs Trust”, I would adopt the following strategies :
- Identifying the underlying beliefs
- Reframing perspective
- Shifting focus between “lightness” and “significance”
- Support the client to leverage on their strengths
- Support the client to be in the present moment and enjoy it so that they can move forward