coaching skills, predicted trend for the future

The Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey for 2011 was released recently.  This is a report that is based on the findings of an annual survey carried out with executive coaches and organizations around the world.  The findings reflect the current state of executive coaching in organizations and predict trends for the future.
This year the trends include more executive coaching for teams to enhance performance and the developing of coaching skills for managers as part of their leadership development.  “Coaching skills teaches managers how to improve relationships in and around their business to increase profits, morale and teamwork”.  Pg. 15, Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey, 20011.
So what is meant by ‘coaching skills’?  They do not provide a definition within this context of the report.  We have an interpretation of what is meant by ‘coaching skills’ based on the past 6 years of experience working with an organization that includes the development of coaching skills in their leadership development program.  What we have learned is that the coaching skills are those fundamental skills that help us shift to being open and curious in conversations.  This includes really listening to the conversation (without including the voice in our head that is telling us what the person should do), asking open and curious questions (yes, those questions that begin with how, what, when, and who that cannot be answered with yes or no), testing our assumptions and beliefs, and not judging the person speaking.  We shift from telling the person what to do, to being curious to learn more about the thoughts and ideas of others.  We seek to really see, hear and understand the perspectives of others.  We message we believe they can come up with their own innovative ideas; can solve their issues in a way that works best for them.  As we ask them open questions, they begin to reflect on what they think and through reflection they learn in a way that holds meaning for them.
Based on feedback and observation, leaders become aware of how they shift from creating a context in the conversation that is about them or at least judging the other to one that is open to being curious about the other person.
When we look at the importance of developing relationships for managers in their role as leaders we can see that such an approach holds great value.  The leader who really is curious about those around them, who is open to listening to the ideas of others and supportive of them in finding their own solutions is the leader who builds relationships.  This is the leader who encourages others to create their own solutions to their problems by asking open questions that support reflection and then learning.  Through this learning each employee is able to learn, develop new skills and also become accountable for how they do what they do.  These conversations can create a ‘coaching culture’ within an organization, a culture that supports curiosity and learning, encourages employees to be innovative and accountable for what they do.
When you reflect on the conversations you have as a manager, how curious are you about the ideas and thoughts of those around you?  How do you support them in finding their own solutions, those that hold meaning for them and for which they will choose to be accountable?
We want to hear from you – let us know what’s working, what’s not and how we can best support you.
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