In order for effective coaching to take place, the coach, the coachee, and the situational factors in the coachee’s environment, must be in alignment. If the coachee interacts with the coach in a meaningful and productive dialogue about his or her situational factors, the intervention may lead to real change.
Coaching is a dynamic process between coach and coachee. For this process to be successful, the coach and coachee should have commonality of purpose and compatibility in behavioral style. This does not mean they must have the same behavioral patterns; it simply means their personal styles should fit well together so there is mutual understanding and the capability for open communication. Behavioral style becomes an important dimension of the coaching relationship that can either help or hinder the process.
The purpose of coaching is to bring about change. This requires an understanding of a change process that is embedded within the coaching model. Many coaches ignore the change process to the detriment of an effective coaching outcome. Coaching is not just talking about change: it must also create change. Everyone knows how difficult it is to create lasting change, but change, ultimately, is the true measurement of successful coaching. A coach needs to understand the processes that enhance the probability of successful change.
Effective coaching is also about excellence: how to recognize it, how to establish it as a common goal with the coachee, and how to chart progress toward attaining it. Striving toward excellence requires a great deal of “stretching” and ultimately contributes to potential pain and frustration as old habits are broken and new ones adopted. This can be a slow, agonizing process, but it is a necessary one for any successful outcome. Setting the highest possible expectations for top executives is essential to organizational success.
Effective coaching is also a learning process. The coachee is acquiring new behaviors and possibly new beliefs. Much of this learning is aimed at building confidence in the effectiveness of the new behavior. A growing number of professional coaches believe learning new behaviors is greatly enhanced by leveraging existing strengths rather than attempting to build strengths from weaknesses. From this perspective, coaching takes a different approach toward effecting change than traditional approaches. While not ignoring weaknesses, it is apparent that concentrating on strengths and ways to build upon them offers a higher potential for growth. Weaknesses are difficult to improve. To implement an approach that builds upon the coachee’s existing strengths, the coach must focus on assessing those strengths—as well as any weaknesses of the coachee—and identifying the strengths that can lead to lasting change. In turn, the coachee’s learning efforts must also concentrate on recognizing and building upon strengths while learning to manage weaknesses.