Coaching as an art form.
It is the dilemma of every artist. On one hand we need to strive to master the tool. On the other, we need to remember and be fully connected to the humanity of what we do. This is the balancing act of every master and of every person who wants to be truly effective in their craft.
I call it Form & Flow – a dichotomy we cannot forget.
Technique is vital. No professional can be successful without it. Here, we must strive to understand, to polish, to have a deep grasp of the concepts and to be committed to ongoing practice and development. Artists without technique produce nothing. They don’t know their tools and therefore, they cannot deliver what they truly imagine.
At the same time, (and most importantly, perhaps,) technique alone creates empty and purposeless work. It is like a skeleton without flesh or a picture without its intended color. Regardless of what we do, to be effective, we must know how to be deeply connected to the heart of it all.
Coaching is no different.
Mastering the structure of the coaching conversation is paramount. This is an ongoing responsibility of every serious coach. The ICF Core Competencies are, in a way, simple, but also endlessly rich. We have layers upon layers of detailed work that needs to be done in order for someone to master them – and it takes years. That is why coaching training, mentoring and the actual practice of coaching are so important. It is through training that we learn best practices and gain a deeper understanding of a model that has been proven to be effective.
It is also important for us to remember that our profession is young and therefore, constantly developing. Every day, there are new perspectives and new ways to look at this framework. It is imperative for us to stay up-to-date and to continue to practice how we demonstrate and deliver these concepts at the time of coaching.
Having said that, we can’t be like that piano player whose fingers fly like magic, whose knowledge is unparalleled, but whose music is stale and heartless.
Regardless of what kind of coaching we do, we must always remember that at the core, coaching is a human to human interaction. Whether we are coaching the CEO of a company or the mom next door, our clients are human-beings and no matter their situation, at the heart, they are looking for connection. It is our job to create the space and clear the way for this to happen. And we can only do this, when we are connected ourselves.
Form gives us the tool. It informs us. It gives the structure, the technique. Form is our ability to demonstrate expertise and to establish a process that is productive, well-defined and repeatable.
Flow gives us the WHO, the essence, the humanity behind it all. It is here that music happens, and transformation occurs. The effective coach knows how to balance these two forces like a true artist who uses their tools skillfully but with clear understanding of their ultimate purpose.
No artist can be a master without form. No coach can be efficient without good training and detailed practice. At the same time, no artist can make music without heart and no coach can be a catalyst for growth without the ability to freely connect to the core of themselves and of their clients.
As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?