If you’re unsure of the context of pitfall #12, or if you would like to review this material generally, go to the end of this article and read, “Putting the 17 pitfalls in context.”
An insight from Bell Labs
A friend of mine from high school ended up at Bell Labs, as a researcher. He was involved in the early days of video tele-conferencing. He told me that tele-conferencing would not likely fly as a viable alternative until the bandwidth was sufficient to allow people to read micro-eye movements.
Why do micro-eye movements matter?
Micro-eye movements are one of the ways that we — usually unconsciously — tell if the person we are talking to is present in our conversation. They also help us gather other useful information, such as whether the other person is telling the truth, and so forth.
If they’re not present, then why bother?
People learn that, if the person they are talking to isn’t “present,” then why bother with the communication at all? The other person is not really hearing or processing what is being said.
Every boss suffers from it
Always too much to do, and too little time in which to do it. At times, we just check the box. All too often, that includes our coaching interaction.
Then it comes to coaching, you might as well pass
A true imperative of coaching is that the coach be present. If the rest of your life is just too chaotic for you to be present, consider rescheduling. It beats wasting time and prevents the accidental creation of a negative story about you. Remember the devil of “automatic assignment of negative intent.” (Automatic assignment of negative intent is the automatic and usually, unconscious assignment of a negative intention to another person’s most often neutral or impersonal action. An example would be when a person cuts you off on the freeway. There likely was no true negative intent even though we are tempted to react as though there were. Not being present feels like a personal insult to others; it makes them feel like their interaction is not as important as other things to you.)
A simple key
I coach top performers all over the world, by phone. I always move away from my computer and any other distractions. Consider doing something like that, whether you’re interacting in person or on the phone.
Getting yourself complete
The greatest single reason we go into a coaching session and are not present, is the same reason that coachees might not be present: they are incomplete. While you can help coachees get complete, you may also have to help yourself accomplish this, prior to the start of the coaching session.
A simple way to get complete
I have found that just writing out everything that is on my mind is one simple way to get complete enough to coach, even on the most difficult day. You probably have some other strategies and tactics that work for you. The key is to get complete and be as present as possible.
Effective results from coaching depend on it. If you can’t really be present, you might be better off rescheduling.
Putting the 17 pitfalls in context
Performance leadership is the combination of leadership and coaching. Leadership establishes what we call an opportunity gap between today, and what we desire at some time in the future. Coaching is the art of getting, and keeping, people in innovative action to fill that gap.
Easy to say, and often wickedly hard to do, in real life.
Avoiding the 17 pitfalls
Coaching, in our opinion, is a key skill in achieving performance in any organization. Developing the skills to avoid the 17 pitfalls of coaching is a vital ability for leaders in high-performance organizations.
The 17 Pitfalls of Coaching
1. Not establishing what’s so.
2. Not asking “What’s possibly missing.”
3. Not operating out of the coachee’s occurring.
4. Attempting to coach into no demand.
5. Giving advice versus asking questions.
6. Making the session’s purpose to advance the coach versus the coachee.
7. Not understanding what makes coachees perform.
8. Not being in dialogue.
9. Not using generative language.
10. Not asking the “Do you think you can?” question.
11. Not asking “What does that make possible?”
12. Not being present.
13. Not using the conversation wheel.
14. Coaching the story.
15. Drifting into solution instead of focusing on action.
16. Getting lost in knowledge instead of action.
17. Not helping the coachee gain distinctions.