I’ve been asked to explain more about coaching and how it works, so here goes:
Coaches serve clients as a “thought partner” or “trusted adviser,” by supporting them in an exploration of goals and options for achieving those goals. When I coach, I like to concentrate on identifying both individual strengths and strengths in the organization or leadership team, where appropriate. I encourage people to think about times they felt especially energized and committed to their work and what it was about them or the situation that contributed to success, so that they can consider those experiences in new contexts.
I’ve found that the coaching process not only leads to identifying options and clarifying ideas, but it releases a lot of confident energy. Sometimes coaching clients also want to use me as more of a consultant, especially with regard to resolving a specific issue at work. I’m generally aware of which role I’m in, but I do try to be careful about doing too much “consulting,” when coaching is called for. It’s the client’s choices that matter.
Coaching can be used with groups, as well as with individuals. You may hear terms like “executive coach,” “life coach,” or “transitions coach,” but I seem to cut across those boundaries with most of my clients. In my own practice, I typically talk with clients over the telephone, usually for 50 minutes to an hour. I like to talk with new clients once a week, for three or four weeks, to establish the relationship and start working on goals. After that, we follow whatever pattern is most useful to the client.
With regard to branch campus administrators, my coaching experience falls in three areas. First, some individuals want to move up the administrative ladder, and either they or their supervisor thinks I can help with the preparation. This type of developmental coaching generally involves some assessment of strengths and exploration of career options, but I also ask questions intended to explore specific leadership challenges the person has encountered, as well as to clarify the role and situation that might represent a good career move.
A second opportunity comes when someone actually accepts a new position or takes on new projects. If he or she is changing institutions, we might talk about an exit strategy, as well as an on-boarding strategy for the new position. Very often, people encounter unexpected challenges and reactions in their new position, and a coach can help with the transition, not to mention adjusting to a new culture.
A third coaching opportunity arises when people consider leaving full-time administration and want to give thought to their future. A coach can help shape the planning process, provide resources, and advise on options. This type of transition coaching provides an opportunity to think about one’s “life portfolio,” considering the balance of work, recreation, family, and other elements of life. I am especially interested in working with people who are considering an encore career, because the creative potential is so high.