The Art of Strengths Coaching

P is for Possible Options

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This is the basic model that is taught in Decision Making 101. The approach is worth revisiting, however, especially when making a decision.

Imagine that you want to focus on a particular challenge. Whenever possible, it can be useful to write this in ‘How to…?’ terms. So you may want to explore, for example:

How to take next step in my career?

How to deal with a difficult person in the team I lead?

How to encourage my son who is having difficulty with schoolwork?

How to regain my energy?

How to get a new purpose in life?

Let’s assume that you are clear on the challenge you want to tackle. Before moving on to the possible options, it can be useful to take the next step.

Clarifying The
Picture of Success

Good decision makers clarify the ‘What?’ before moving on to the ‘How?’. They clarify the real results to achieve.

Sometimes this calls for being calm and taking time to consider. It is useful to make sure you are climbing the right mountain before clarifying how to reach the summit.

Let’s explore how this works with some of the challenges mentioned above. Imagine that one challenge you want to explore is:

How to deal with a difficult person in the team I lead?

What are the real results you want to achieve? Is it that you want to understand, motivate and coach the person? Or is it that you want to build a successful team?

Let move on to another of the challenges mentioned above.

How to encourage my son who is having difficulty with schoolwork?

What are the real results you want to achieve? Is it to help your son to be better at passing exams?

Or is it that you want him to develop what are now called 21st Century Skills?

These are the 4 Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity. These are the skills that employers say they want young people to exhibit.

Looking at the challenge you want to tackle, there may be many results you want to achieve. If so, get all of these out into the open and then list these in order of priority. So it can be useful to ask:

What are the real results – in order of priority – that I want to achieve?

What will be happening that will show I have achieved the goal?

What is the picture of success?

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Clarifying The
Possible Options

Let’s assume you have by clarified the ‘What?’, you can then move on to the ‘How?’.

Start by brainstorming all the possible options for going forwards. It can be useful to describe all the options, even those that you may not want to follow. This helps to empty your head and create space to find new options.

Let’s imagine, for example, that you are having difficulty with one team member. The real result you want to achieve may be:

I want to build a successful team.

You may then outline all the possible options for tackling this challenge. These may include the following.

a) To try to understand and motivate the difficult person.

b) To hire a coach to work with the person.

c) To explain the required professional standards and ask the person if they want to deliver these standards.

If the person says they do, then go onto the next stage, making clear contracts about how they will deliver the standards. If not, then the person is choosing not to deliver the standards.

d) To again communicate the team’s story, strategy and road to success – then invite people to let me know the contribution they want to make towards achieving the team’s goals.

If the person does come to me, then we can make clear contracts about their contribution. If not, then they have chosen not to be in the team.

e) To imagine I was starting the team again with a blank piece of paper.

Looking at the present team members, I can ask:

“Which of the team members would I definitely rehire and what would I rehire them to deliver? Who might I rehire – and under what conditions? Who wouldn’t I rehire?”

Then I can act on the findings and do whatever is required to build a successful team.

Looking at each of the various possibilities, describe the pluses and minuses of each option. Then rate the attractiveness of each option on a scale 0 to 10.

If possible, try to get some time to reflect. It can be useful to ask, for example:

Looking at the various options, which are the most attractive?

Are there any other potential options? Is it possible to combine the best parts from some of the options?

Let’s return to the results I want to achieve. What are the key strategies I can follow to give myself the greatest chance of success?

Sometimes it is not possible to buy lots of time, such as being able to sleep on the problem. But it can still be useful to do something to refresh your mind, such as go for a walk or take a break. This can lead to seeing things in perspective and making creative breakthroughs.

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Clarifying Your
Preferred Option

Looking at the potential options, which is the route you want to follow? You may want, of course, to pursue several routes simultaneously.

Bearing in mind your chosen way forward, what are the pluses and minuses involved? How can you build on the pluses and minimise the minuses?

What are the key strategies you can follow to achieve success? How can you translate these into a clear action plan? How can you get some early successes? How can you encourage yourself on the journey?

How can you commit yourself fully to your chosen route? What are the working contracts you need to make: a) With yourself; b) With other people? How can you do your best to make sure you and other people fulfil these contracts.

There are many models for making decisions. One approach is to clarify the picture of success, explore the possible options and pursue your chosen option. You will also, of course, have your own way of translating the ideas into action and achieving success.

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