1: What makes a great coach great?

Being an effective coach is not about becoming indispensable. If our goal is to elevate the leadership capacity across the organization, we do so by learning to coach ourselves. And then coach others to coach themselves.  

I learned about self-coaching from my friend, mentor, and coach, Dr. Danny Friedland, who passed away 18 months ago after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Danny wrote a brilliant book Leading Well from Within.

Self-coaching is about learning to ask ourselves inspiring questions:

What is the desired outcome?  

What is it I really want?

What am I here to learn?  

How can I best serve?

Learning to ask ourselves questions is at the heart of self-coaching. Doing so elevates our mindset.

2: Quick caveat. Asking questions is the key. But, we begin each coaching conversation by listening. With empathy and compassion. And affirmation: “I can appreciate how hard this is for you,” we say. Danny connects Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to brain science in his book.  

Creating a safe environment is the foundation. That’s why we start with listening. The conversation gets stuck if the other person doesn’t feel safe (or if we don’t feel safe). Stress occurs when the demands outstrip our resources. By telling our story, by putting it into words, we elevate the relationship.  

“Name it to tame it,” Danny calls it.

So, as coaches, we begin by listening. Which creates a sense of belonging.  

Once the other person has told their story, Danny recommends we ask: “Have you felt me being compassionate with you?”  

“Yes,” they reply.  

“How do you know?” we ask.

That’s a weird question, we think. But answering this question, Danny believes, teaches the other person to be compassionate with themselves.  

3: Only when we have claimed safety and then belonging can we move to significance.  

Which is when questions become powerful.  

And one of the most powerful questions we can ask ourselves is: What is the desired outcome? What is it we want? What is it we really want?

Because this question moves us from victim to creator.  

More tomorrow.


Reflection:  As a leader, how much time am I spending coaching those on my team?  

Action: Ask myself: What is the desired outcome?

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