Now for the 4th Coaching session and the breakthroughs…..
When Ramesh and I conversed again after a week, I realized that the trust levels have gone so deep that he had no blocks or boundaries to share his vulnerabilities upfront. However, I enabled him to share this after sharing his acknowledgements for what he has done positively in the interim period.
Little did I realize that I’d take this window of an opportunity, to travel profoundly into the hallway of Appreciative Inquiry. To be more specific, when he shared wins about becoming more sensitive, tolerant and respecting colleagues, I facilitated him to share what all these meant to him. He was quite energized in sharing that these are new beginnings in his life and wishes to the more consistent and this set the tone for the 4th session, one to start from where we ended the previous one and in addition he sought support
for becoming more effective in his role as a senior leader in the organization.
I helped him develop and create more awareness, by primarily delving into 2 areas viz. how has he achieved some high points in his work life in the recent times, which were ultimate instances of achievements that gave him total satisfaction? The second one was about, without feeling humble about yourself, what would you like about yourself?
This set the tone rapidly enough enabling me to be with him, feeling empathetic towards him, feeling supportive about his discovery of strengths, attributes, attitudes, skills and values and more importantly helped me to identify his deeper feelings and desires, which were negated by himself and not acknowledged by others.
He turned out to be very emotional at this point of time and came up with a big time realization that while he was denied appreciation from others, so much so even if he secured some tidbits from others, he tended to ignore or be indifferent to the same, but also poured out how much he yearned appreciation. This dialogue moved ahead and I asked him to reflect about, How much does he appreciate himself? and How much has he been appreciating his colleagues? The answers that rolled out of his life’s shelves were ‘No’ to both with candidness and spontaneity. Soon enough he could establish connections between both. In effect it was all about him connecting the dots, which he never imagined it could be that way.
His breathing patterns, body language, energy levels and enthusiasm, became very positively transformational.
The dilemma that I faced as a Coach at that point of time was whether to leave him on a high and get back to him in the next session to work on resolutions or to pursue right now, when his receptive levels and willingness to take feedback from me was at a highest point. I opted for the second choice and on hindsight, I’m glad that I did the same.
I became increasingly sensitive to Ramesh and appreciated him for the great work that he did on himself during the 4th session and asked him whether we can proceed ahead to work on the future. He gladly agreed.
This is when I could support him with some Powerful Questions in making him contemplate the importance of Designing Actions. He swiftly moved into systematically focusing on the specific concerns and opportunities that lay ahead of him, explode alternative ideas and options, expressed keenness to encourage himself to active mode of experimentation, urge to know more about himself and above all to challenge his own assumptions, reframe his perspectives and generate for himself brain stormed solutions.
I perceived a sense of urgency of desire to attain goals in him, when I guided him to the next step of framing SMART Goals, which perfectly synchronized my intention of helping him indulge in Planning and Goal Setting, which arose as a natural corollary. He was able to joyfully create plans and even make specific, measurable ones with timelines and that too the best part was, with absolute comfort.
As a sequel, Managing Progress and Accountability, was easier process step to get into, than what I would have initially expected at the beginning of the Coaching relationship, as my experience then was a lot difficult for me as well as him to work on a detailed basis. This is where I could assist Ramesh to focus on Creating Structures to transcend from Awareness, Intention to Self ‐ Empowerment and to finally Creating Action Plans. I experienced myself to be in a total let go ambiance, when the Client worked entirely with a large dose of self‐motivation, with minimal guidance or open ended questions. He presented specific action plans of becoming consistently appreciative of self and others. The most significant discovery that he shared was the more I appreciate myself, the more I’d be able to appreciate others. He clarified the scope for experimentation of the new behaviors, in what settings like review meetings, brain storming sessions, informal dialogues and other avenues, his interfaces with his team members, peers and seniors. He also admirably set clear time lines and also indicated that he would assess the impact on self and others and report to me voluntarily.
Proof of the Pudding is in eating it! Isn’t it?
I was overjoyed when I heard from Ramesh about a week later, when he voluntarily shared the gains, takeaways of practicing his new behaviors and how he remarkably felt huge positive changes in him and how warmly he cared for himself and the greater discovery of how he was able to be more tolerant, sensitive, considerate, empathetic, understanding and above all ‘Appreciative’ of significant others at his work environment and also in turn how many of them observed and perceived the positive changes in his behavior and shared feedback how they liked him more and now as a leader and what they missed in him hitherto. He was quite buoyant when he shared all this. It was almost like being on ‘Cloud 9 and
Top of the World’!
I for one both in the role of a Coach and as a person, connected with him like never before, appreciated sincerely from the bottom of my heart, enabled him to celebrate his achievements, helped him understand how he changed his paradigms and therefore actions positively, also internalizing the need to change, by taking on complete responsibility for actions and inactions, done and not done by him in the past. In that dialogue, I also aided him to enquire as to how and what ways, could he sustain these changed behaviors and how he can still achieve the results for his team and the organization.
One of the biggest gains for me which I could reflect upon is how as a senior leader in an organization, one need not perceive being Tough and Task oriented and being Empathetic and Caring as two sides of the continuum, which would only then remain paradoxical, but one can also reframe how being Tough and being Empathetic are not either or proposition, but can be practically integrated to possess and practice both set of traits, in perfect blend.
Connections with the GROW model – right through the journey of the 4 Coaching sessions, described in detail as above, there were multiple times that I referred to not only the practice of ICF’s 11 Competences [which are highlighted in blue color, in this document], but also made apt connections with the intently researched GROW model of Sir John Whitmore.
To ensure adherence to ICF’s Competences and GROW model, I invariably keep it as a ready reckoner, during my Coaching sessions and I did precisely the same with Ramesh too. During the entire voyage with him, I helped him state the outcomes every single session, while commencing the same and also referring to it constantly to reiterate the progress towards Goals, which included SMART ones, though there were a few intangible ones, which were equally powerful too. This became more useful as a mandatory step, as the sessions progressed, which culminated effectively in the 4th session.
Going through the next step of Reality, was an imperative one. This was experienced when the Client was asked often about the awareness of the starting point, where was he in terms of emotional and mental location vis‐à‐vis the concern/s that he surfaced every single session, especially when I enabled him to look inward, with an inside out approach, as to how he has brought about the situation and what has he contributed to the situation, being in certain ways.
The 3rd step of Options, was inevitably exercised in every single Coaching session. In fact this step was so crucial that the Client could unleash very divergent, creative solutions to his own problems and issues. I personally found a lot of value in anchoring the Client at this stage, for self – discovery, self – empowerment and claiming the much needed Ownership and Accountability.
The 4th step of Will was indeed a smooth enabler in helping the Client move towards achieving his Goals, by helping him to step aside and examine his own measures of addressing the outcomes, contingency plans, timelines and determination to overcome road blocks, plus most importantly derive the much needed clarity in the resolutions that he sought. This became a definite precursor for implementation.
Adherence to the 3 C Process, taught by Ram in the F2F classes, during the Supervised Coaching sessions, was another window that I closely operated during the Coaching sessions. Connecting the 3 C Process, GROW model and ICF Competences, is given in a tabular form:
- Clarifying the need for communicating Ethical Guidelines and Process Standards
- Explaining the value of Coaching Agreement
- Sharpening the skills of Active Listening
- Seeking opportunities to create and establish deeper Trust levels
- Reflecting whether my Coaching Presence is impactful enough
- Realizing the total power of asking Open Ended Questions
- Underlying assumptions and beliefs are bound to be there which need more attention
- Fine tuning the art and courage of giving and asking Feedback
- Focusing on Planning and Goal Setting, as a necessary preamble to seek Actions
- Comprehending the power of ensuring the last mile of seeking Actions and Accountability
More than any of the above, the whole experience of Coaching Ramesh was an emotionally engaging process that furnished a very powerful sense of fulfillment. Though I felt challenged several times, I led myself in my role by completely Trusting the Process and Trusting the Client. The biggest shift was to increasingly become aware and practice that I’ve no solutions to offer and I don’t need to possess expertise about the Client’s concern areas. All that I need to do is to permit myself in being very Mindful and Mindless to enhance Awareness of the Process, be absolutely sensitive to the Client, understand that there are always deep seated emotions behind every situation and description of the situations in the understanding of the Client, as the Client’s world is the only one which is important and not the Coach’s world! The other biggest challenge was to keep away all assumptions, prejudices, biases and past experiences of mine and welcome the newness in the Client, respecting him and allowing him to set his own pace and directions, without questioning or being critical, but rely purely on the Power of Powerful Questions and continue to respect the Client’s world of realities.
In this Coaching journey, I am left with this blissful learning –
Just when I thought, I knew all the answers for all the questions in life, the questions changed!
In effect, the unlearning than the learning stood out very significantly for me, as many of my professional practices and competences resting on being a Consultant with expertise had to be reexamined and fresh leash of learning emerged for me to embrace and I am signing off with extreme sense of optimism, fulfillment and excitement. Thanks again to Ramesh, for having filled up all these meaningful components into me and without him directly intending, helped me to shake off many of my myths and wrong assumptions.
More importantly, I realized with clarity like never before to understand and differentiate as to:
When is help helpful and when is help harmful?
The most important and savored takeaway is that in all these experiences with Ramesh was that, I was thoroughly humbled and look forward to clothing myself with more of this, in my future journey as a Coach and as a human being.
With unbridled Love and Passion
[Udayakumar Gopalakrishnan, India F2F Batch 8 – ICA Certification Course]