Written by Nick Phillis; Meyler Campbell Graduate 2015
As Catherine Devitt introduced Lloyd she described him as a ‘serial learner’, one who takes every opportunity to increase his knowledge and experience. We were able to benefit from this addiction as Lloyd opened our mind to the possibilities of a different approach to coaching.
It became apparent from a discussion in pairs before the coaching got going, that we have all relied on ‘gut feeling’ at some point in our decision making, whether in the process of coming to a decision or as the final factor that made the decision. What Lloyd introduced us to was a way of making the most of that in coaching sessions and revealed to us another element, the heart, in addition to the head, which can also influence our decisions.
Watching another coach is a brilliant way to reflect on your own style and challenge some of your approaches. There was a very clear sense that the concentration levels of all in the room, not just the coach and coachee (we need to find another word) were very high, testament to the quality of the coaching in front of us and the honesty and openness of the coachee.
The demands of a fishbowl, especially one where a particular type of coaching is being demonstrated, can, necessarily, deflect the course of what might have happened in a more normal session, but Lloyd managed this very well indeed. He gently established the focus of the session, exploring the first comment from the coachee to make sure that it was indeed what she was after. As he asked questions and gave space for thinking, the goal was clarified and honed, allowing a more meaningful session to follow.
Having explained the ‘think, feel, know’ process Lloyd quickly got into the coaching. The coachee was asked to choose a space where they were happy to stand and asked to ‘think’ about the issue. What thoughts did she have, what was her mind saying about the issue? She then took a few steps to a different place in the room and asked what she felt about the issue. Here the logical became informed by the feelings, and vice versa, bringing clarity and movement towards the fulfillment of the goal. A defining moment came when Lloyd asked her what the ‘self’ that stood in each place might like to ask of the other, giving the opportunity for more quality thinking, increasing clarity.
The third space, the heart (or what is known deep down), can be the most difficult part to access. Moving to another part of the room a couple of paces away Lloyd asked her to place her hands over her chest and asked what she knew deep inside about the issue, in some ways drawing on the concept of Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’. With less time available in this forum than would be in a coaching session it was not possible to fully explore this, though it became clear how important this aspect of one’s thinking about an issue and decision making is.
The Three Intelligences’ is another tool for coaches to use. At times, as Lloyd acknowledged, it may not be appropriate, at times, we may use part of the process or some elements of its method of delivery, but what Lloyd showed us is that all three elements make up our decisions. At different times one may be more dominant than the other two, but considering all three will mean we are more informed and possibly make a more correct decision – and as coaches definitely deliver an improved coaching session.
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