A Coaching Power Tool Created by Stewart Edmed
(Executive Coach, CHINA)
Much is written on the fulfillment of dreams and how the main barrier to achieving them is ourselves and a fear of failure. A similar sentiment is that it is not the absence of fear that enables success, but instead the presence of courage to overcome it. However, I believe there are scores of talented and ambitious employees who are yearning to pursue and achieve their career dreams, and it is not the lack of courage that is preventing them from doing so. The cold shower of reality is that they are a) in competition with others, 2) do not feel in control of how others see and assess them for career progression, and c) are therefore not empowered to decide their own fate. This creates a negative cycle that requires intervention to stop and take on another more constructive course.
It can be said that having a successful career requires luck, being born in a certain country, educated at a particular University, or any other number of factors that are beyond most people’s control. Should they then give up? Is it hopeless? For sure not: finding successful role models that defy this self-limiting logic within one’s sphere of ambition are not hard to find. And creating one’s own ‘luck’ through careful and dedicated preparation is what will eventually win the day and overcome these disempowering barriers of not being in control of one’s professional destiny.
This power tool is created to interrupt this cycle and empower the individual to build a resilient, objective plan towards success. It is designed to flip the attitude of the individual: an ambitious, committed potential future leader who instead of asking themselves ‘how am I failing my goal?’, instead will ask ‘how am I fulfilling my goal?’. The tool flips negativity into positivity with objective steps to succeed.
The tool is to be used in a professional coaching space to ICF standards where no leading questions of advisory content come from the coach. The solution must come from within the client and be tailored by the client as they explore their beliefs, reflect their strengths and weaknesses, and form a plan towards fulfillment.
The client would be expressing dissatisfaction at work, in their company, or with their progression. They may be blaming others for their lack of progress or they may be blaming themselves for falling short. As a first step, it is very important to allow the client to unpack all this negativity, to speak it out loud. The coach then asks open questions of the client to have the client fully explore and clarify their beliefs about themselves and their frustration in light of their professional goals. For example
- What are your professional goals?
- What direction do you want your career to go in?
- How will you get there?
- What is important for you?
- What is your priority at work?
- What meaning does this have for you?
- What is your priority in life?
- How does work fit with your life?
- What balance are you looking for?
- What happens if you don’t solve this?
This first phase of exploration is designed to clarify what the professional goal is, how it fits into the rest of the client’s life and priorities, and the meaning of it to the client. Following this, we must explore with the client what their current reality is in achieving this goal. For example:
- What is your plan?
- And what else?
- What have you tried already?
- What do others have that are successful?
- What role model(s) do you aspire to? What did this role model do for success?
- What do you need most right now?
- What could help you?
- What are the obstacles?
- What have you committed to?
- What can you do?
This phase ends when the client is clear on where they are about the goal they have described, of what they have tried, and what obstacles they see. And this brings us to the tool.
While the flipping of the mindset can be done through questioning alone and moving toward a plan, here is added a visual aid that would be useful to some. And the success of the flip relies on the plan being specific to the dimensions that matter most for the client’s success. The instructions that follow are applicable whether using the visual aid or not.
The visual aid(see diagram) is initially designed with 4 elements that are chosen as the main areas the client needs to work on to be successful. The dimensions in the diagram are typical examples but can be changed, depending on the gaps the client has uncovered. There also can be more or less than 4, though it is not recommended to have too many that proper focus cannot be applied.
Failing vs Fulfilling: Reality Check Visual Aid of self-assessment v external assessment.
The dimensions must be a client-centric discovery that follows from the previous section, based on what the client thinks are the key areas, but also for the client to have objectively discovered what the company or hiring manager expresses are the key areas for success. For example:
- What skills, competencies, or experiences are needed to succeed?
- What personal qualities or values need to be displayed?
- And what else?
- Who decides?
- Whose perspective is most important?
Once the dimensions are objectively identified by the client, have the client self-discovery where they are on a scale (eg 0-100%) for each dimension that the client believes represents the distance they are failing.
And then we flip it…
Ask the client on this same scale how close they are to fulfilling each dimension….in the eyes of the person whose perspective matters most (the hiring manager, the person with the decision rights). This will generate gaps that need fulfillment on the key dimensions of the hiring manager.
The remainder of the process should be around helping the client to create a plan of action. It is highly recommended to use the SMART framework. That is, all elements of the plan must be:
Meaning to the Client
A clearly stated goal of what the task will achieve
A clear way to measure the task is completed.
Set tasks that are not just wishful thinking but are grounded in reality
Set tasks that take the client in the right direction
Set a timeframe or date for action and completion
This Power Tool essentially is trying to change the client’s perspective from looking downwards or a ‘glass half empty to looking up and a ‘glass half full. To looking and planning forward rather than backward. It also is designed to change perspective from internally searching for reasons for the success of success and instead outward to the external factor that is required to succeed. This more constructive and objective also switches the mindset of a corrosive ‘I am failing to achieve my goals’ to ‘I have not yet fulfilled what it takes to achieve my goals. From that, forward momentum is created.
Merriam-Webster’s Learner Dictionary