The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Clarifying Your Supportive Style – The Steps You Take To Help People To Achieve Success  

Imagine that you are helping people in a professional situation. You may be doing this as a teacher, coach, mentor, trusted advisor or in some other role.

What is your supportive style? How do you try to encourage them? What are the steps you take to help them to achieve their picture of success?

There are, of course, many approaches to helping people. You may, for example, draw on your own experiences and ask yourself:

“Who are the people who have helped me in my life? What did they do to support me? How can I follow those principles in my own way to support other people?”

You may use aspects of counselling or coaching philosophies. You may use models from education, positive psychology or strengths coaching. You may also use practical tools that enable people to achieve peak performance.

Whatever approach you use, however, it can be useful to clarify your supportive style. This is often influenced by your beliefs about people. These include the following.

The specific beliefs you have about how people develop.  

The specific beliefs you have about what you can and can’t do to help people to develop. 

The specific things you can do to build on your strengths and translate these beliefs into action to help people to develop.

Looking at my own work, for example, I believe that people are more likely to develop if they are given encouragement.

People make choices every day, however, and each choice has consequences. They can choose to be positive or negative, to take responsibility or avoid responsibility, to help people or hurt people.

I work with people who choose to be positive. The aim is to give them practical tools they can use in their daily lives and work. It is to help them to build on their strengths, follow practical strategies and achieve their picture of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the beliefs you have about how people develop. Try completing the following pages.

Starting A Session

Imagine that a person has asked for your help in a professional capacity. You will have your own approach towards helping them to reach their goals. Whatever approach you use, you may go through the following steps when starting the session.

Good mentors, for example, start by creating a stimulating sanctuary in which the person can feel at ease. They may then say some of the following things to the person.

What is happening in your world at the moment? Are there any particular topics it would be useful to explore? Are there any particular challenges you face?

We can explore any of these topics. I will listen and make sure I understand your goals. If appropriate, I will then offer some practical tools you can use to achieve your goals. Is that okay? 

If so, are there any particular themes that you want to explore? For example:

How to …?

How to …? 

How to …?

The mentor will listen carefully. If appropriate, they may ask the person to give examples to bring the themes to life. At an appropriate time, they may then say some of the following things to the person.

Bearing in mind the various topics we have mentioned, which would be the most helpful to tackle? For example:

How to …? 

Looking at this topic, let me ask a few questions about your goals. What are your short, medium and long-term goals? 

What are the real results you want to achieve? What is your picture of success? What will be happening that will show you have achieved your picture of success?

Good mentors start by establishing clarity. They clarify the real ‘What’ – the real results the person wants to achieve – before moving on to the ‘How’. They then play back their understanding to make sure that they and the person have the same picture.

Such mentors also make clear working contracts. These include: a) The person’s responsibilities in working towards achieving their goals; b) The specific kinds of help the mentor can provide to help the person to reach their goals.

You will have your own approach to clarifying the person’s goals and making clear working contracts. This will provide the platform for taking the next steps towards helping the person to achieve success. 

Different people use different approaches to help other people. The following pages describe two approaches.

The GROW Model was pioneered by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore. Many practitioners see the acronym as standing for the following steps. They then invite the coachee to work through these steps on the route to achieving success.

Goal 

What do you want to achieve? What is your goal? What are the real results you want to achieve? What is your picture of success? What will be happening that will show you have reached the goal?

Reality

What is your current reality? What is happening in your world?  Can you give specific examples, especially those that relate to the goal you want to achieve? Looking at this reality, what are the things you can control?

Options

What can you do to reach the goal? What are the potential options? What are the consequences of each option? Are there any other creative solutions?

Will

What will you do to reach the goal? Which is the route – or routes – you want to take towards achieving the goal?  On a scale 0 – 10, how committed are you to taking this route?

What is your action plan for moving forward? What are the specific measures that will show you have achieved the goal?

Different interpretations
of the acronym GROW

As with all models, different people interpret GROW in different ways. Here are some examples of how it has been changed.

Options is changed to Obstacles

After helping the person to clarify their goal, some coaches invite them to clarify the obstacles to achieving their target. They then focus on the person’s options for overcoming these obstacles.

Will is changed to Way Forward; Wrap-up or
Who, What, Where, Why, When and How

This interpretation maintains the spirit of action planning and clarifies the person’s commitment to achieving the goal.

Some elements of the GROW model were influenced by Tim Gallwey’s work on The Inner Game. His approach encouraged people to be fully focused – whether they were concentrating on a specific sport or an activity at work.

They could then set a goal, concentrate on the reality of what was happening, explore options and commit to applying their talents to reach the goal.

You can discover more about various uses of the GROW model via the following links to Sir John Whitmore, Alan Fine, Graham Alexander and Tim Gallwey.

http://www.performanceconsultants.com/about-us

http://www.alan-fine.com/

http://www.alexandercorporation.com/

http://theinnergame.com/ 

The Strengths Approach

Different coaches use different methods when using the principles of strengths coaching. Some make full use of the various Strengths Assessment tools. These include Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, CAPP’s Realise 2 and the Strengths Partnership’s Strengthscope.

Some coaches employ their own tools for helping a person to build on their strengths. Some combine the strengths approach with elements of other methods, such as Appreciative Inquiry or Dependable Strengths.

The following pages provide an introduction to one approach to strengths coaching. These describe some of the questions you may ask if you take this route when helping a person.

Clarifying your way
of supporting people

How do you try to support people? Start by bearing in mind how you believe people develop and also your own strengths. Then think of the steps you take.

Imagine that a person has asked for your help in a professional capacity. What do you do to make the person feel welcome? How do you create an encouraging environment? How do make clear working contracts with them?

How do you help the person to clarify their goals? How do you help them to explore the potential strategies? How do you share your knowledge in a way they can accept and use?

How do you help them to settle on their chosen strategy? How do you help them to pursue this strategy? What else do you to help them to achieve their picture of success? 

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you do to make a person feel welcome, clarify their goals and then make clear contracts about your work together.

Describe the specific things you then do to support them and help them to achieve their goals. Try breaking this down into the steps you take and the specific things you do at each stage.

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