Updated: Aug 16, 2020
The most powerful instrument we have in helping our clients navigate change is ourselves.
Recently, I was working with some professionals, helping them build their skills to become certified coaches. A theme emerged about leadership coaching that I wanted to share with you. I’m going to share a couple of quotations about the insights they gained during our conversation, and then I’ll discuss them.
Perhaps you've had similar experiences like this, too?
“I realized we bring a lot of our stuff, our own baggage, to our coaching engagement. It makes me think about how we need to be more aware of it and uncouple ourselves from our own baggage before going into a coaching session with a client. I need to care for myself by clearing out my old baggage in order to become more effective as a coach.”
“I wanted to add a more formal piece of my career around coaching, but that was just the balcony view. I found that I’m most comfortable working in the transformative type of coaching. This requires me to open myself up and allow myself to be transformed as well.”
At Leadership Strategies International, we have encapsulated what we do over the years into one single phrase: Honor the past, Challenge the present, Create the future®. When we sit with these words, they expand to encompass an answer to some of the challenges and insights posed in the above quotations.
In order to guide others through their transformation toward becoming a professional coach — to help them listen deeply to their teams, foster authentic communication and achieve remarkable outcomes — we have to not just model those behaviors but embody them. To help others find pinch points and confront self-imposed barriers, we have to challenge and overcome our own perceived limitations.
As a coach who helps others learn to coach, it is humbling to watch this process unfold. I’m reminded to continue to challenge and overcome my own barriers. Vision is important and necessary, and change comes through deliberate action.
One of the first deliberate actions to take is identifying some of our own resistance to transformation.
When we identify that resistance, we have a choice to make: Do I allow myself to continue with this resistance and the resultant limiting behaviors? Or, do I honor those behaviors that protected, and hindered, me in the past, then challenge and let go of those old limiting beliefs and actions, and seek new beliefs and vision that enable me to step into a transformed future?
Often, I work with coaches who find themselves unsettled when working with a client. Maybe they feel anger, incompetence or over-identification with the client's problems. Those are GOOD things to recognize because, with the right support, they lead to the coach's growth which in turn better equips the coach to help their clients also grow and transform.
I’m reminded of some of my treasured mentors such as Charlie Seashore who advocated that the most powerful instrument we have in helping our clients navigate change is ourselves. Our ability to use ourselves as an instrument — to sense and probe and read our client — relies in large part on the cleanliness of our instrument.
Our instrument needs to be clean because when we get stuck with our own "stuff" and think it is our client’s “stuff” we do them a disservice, and even harm when our instrument is dulled. How do you sharpen yourself? Further professional development? Journaling? A spiritual advisor? A mentor coach?
Whatever tools YOU use to sharpen yourself, the gain is the expanded leader you become when you continue to transform and fine-tune your instrument. A coach who continues to honor their past, challenge their present, and create their future becomes more present with clients, able to pursue lines of inquiry free from their own messy agenda, and focus wholly on the client and coach/client relationship.
What kind of coach do you want to continue to become?
About the Author
Dr. Laura L. Hauser, MCC, MCEC
Founder, Leadership Strategies International
Dr. Laura Hauser, MCC, MCEC, works with organizational leaders and their teams (and the professionals who support them) to build healthy workplace cultures. She is an internationally-recognized thought leader and researcher in the highly specialized space of team coaching. Using art and science, she teaches, coaches, supervises and consults in a way that expands mindsets and capabilities needed to navigate through disruption. Laura has been honored for her contributions to the coaching profession. She is the developer of the Team Coaching Operating System®, an ACSTH coaching school accredited by the International Coach Federation. Contact Laura by email or on LinkedIn.
When referencing this material, please acknowledge the source: ©2020 Dr. Laura L. Hauser, MCC, www.leadership-strategies.com