25Jul/130

Coaching Models for Business Success: Working with Coaching Models* By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching models help us to understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective and to appreciate the need for "structure" in the interaction between coach and client. They offer flexibility and a structure for both the coaching conversation and the overall coaching journey.

Although models create a system within which coach and client work, it is essential that models are not experienced as either prescriptive or rigid. The coaching conversation is about the client, not the coach. If the model is too prescriptive, it means it is fulfilling the coach's agenda, rather than attempting to understand the client's issues.

This next series of articles surveys a cross-section of models that influence the work of business and executive coaches worldwide. I will highlight a variety of models, including circular, nested, four-quadrant and U-process models.

What Is a Coaching Model?

A model represents a system with an implied process. It is a metaphor or analogy used to help visualize and describe the journey. Models systemically depict or represent a process that cannot be directly observed. In other words, a model represents more than what you see. If you can develop a model that encompasses the coaching conversation and the entire coaching intervention, you will begin to work with considerably greater ease within your practice. A coaching model is representative of what happens, or will happen, in the coaching conversation (micro) and in the overall coaching intervention or journey (macro). I recommend working with simple models that represent both the micro- and macro coaching interventions.

If you imagine that the model is the process you use to work with your client, it embodies all of your tools and techniques, including your question frameworks. A model is a simple representation of the journey that can encompass the skills, experience and expertise coach and client bring to the coaching conversation.

Which Models to Use?

The main purpose of this series is to introduce you to a variety of models, with examples of how to facilitate a coaching conversation using each one. The key principle I want to convey is that it is essential to adopt a structured approach to your coaching conversation. This does not mean that you cannot let the conversation grow and be explorative-I mean structure in a big-picture way. That is the beauty of any model: having the freedom to explore within each part of the model.

Purpose, Perspectives, Process Model

The Purpose, Perspectives, Process model (see Figure 1) was developed by David Lane of the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) and the Work-Based Learning Unit at London's Middlesex University (Lane and Corrie, 2006).

Purpose (Where Are We Going and Why?)

What is your purpose in working with the client? Where are you going with this client? What does the client want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their overall journey with you as their coach?

For example, one client working in the telecom industry said in our first session together, "I need your help because everybody in the organization distrusts me and I'm in a pretty senior position. What can I do about it? I'm highly respected by those subordinate to me in position and disliked and mistrusted by those superior or equal to me in position." As coach, your questions will relate to client purpose, i.e., "Where are we going, and what's the reason for going there?" It is usually better to ask a "what" question rather than a "why" question. For example, "Why are we going there?" sounds intrusive and can create a defensive posture on the part of the client. "What" questions help to create a bigger picture of the journey; "what" creates perspective. This client's purpose in this example was to "build alliances and trust with peers, colleagues and superiors throughout the organization."

Perspectives (What Will Inform Our Journey?)

What perspectives inform the journey for both coach and client? Both coach and client come in with their individual backgrounds, experience, expertise, culture, values, motivations and assumptions that drive behavior.

I recently had a call from a potential client who was a general manager in the energy industry. We chatted about his background, career and current job, and discussed his perspective in terms of his position within the organization, his style of leading and managing his team of people, and the impact of his age on his career prospects. Finally he said, "I have got as far as I can get with what I know now-and I need to know more, somehow."

We then discussed my perspective, i.e., what informs the way I work with clients, my experience and expertise. Based on our mutual perspectives, the client asked, "Would we have some kind of synchronicity or a match in order to work together?" He wanted to understand what models, tools and techniques I used as he wanted to create his own leadership development toolbox for his senior managers. He also wanted to understand how to handle mistakes: did I make them and what would my education, training and work experience bring to our conversation? In this first contracting conversation, we worked through the model like this:

Perspectives: How we might bring our two worlds together;
Purpose: What he ultimately wanted from the coaching experience; and
Process: How we would work together to achieve his outcomes.

Process (How Will We Get There?)

Using this model helped me to begin to understand the above client's needs, develop rapport, and identify not just his overall outcomes but a way to begin working together. At this stage of the model we contracted, set boundaries, agreed on confidentiality matters, outlined the fee paying process and initiated the formulation of a leadership development plan. We also agreed on timing (how often we would see each other and the individual client's line manager), and considered questions such as: What assessments would be useful for the individual client to complete? How would we debrief those profiles? We discussed potential coaching assignments and timing for the overall contract (including termination and exit possibilities if either party was unhappy) and explored how to obtain line manager approval. Finally, we set up a separate meeting to review the process with the line manager and the group HR director.

How Can This Model Help You?

This model can help you in three ways: to contract with the client, to structure the entire coaching journey and to guide your coaching conversation. Out of this specific conversation emerged the client's purpose, clarification about how our perspectives fit together to help him achieve this purpose, and the process within which we would work to achieve the outcomes desired.

This model can be used for the regular coaching conversations you have with your client. The client brings to the conversation a possible "menu" of topics to be discussed, or even just one particular topic. One of my clients in the media came to me one day saying, "My purpose today is to understand why I am sabotaging my best efforts to delegate to my senior managers" (purpose). As the coach, I wanted to understand all of the perspectives underlying the client's aim for this conversation (perspectives), as well as identify the various tools or techniques that could be used in the process.

The Coaching Conversation and the Coaching Journey

This model can represent the process for just one coaching conversation, but it can also represent the overall journey. For example, the client comes in with the purpose, "I would like to work with you; no one else will work with me as they find me too difficult." This client's purpose became to find a coach who would work with her, to help her to identify how she could not only develop the interpersonal skills to work successfully with others, but to demonstrate her new learning through visible behavior change at work. The coach's and the client's perspectives will be unique and different. In working with the client, you bring not just perspective, but your observations as to how this client seems to be working within the organizational system.

In terms of process, you may ask the client to do a range of assessment profiles, or you may shadow the client at work to experience how he or she facilitates meetings or interacts with customers, subordinates, superiors and colleagues.

Conclusion

Coach practitioners have a great deal of flexibility when working with coaching models. In my next column we will explore the use of the nested-levels model developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004). I hope I have stimulated your appetite to further investigate coaching models.

*(Adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Experience, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. 2009. Knowledge Resources and Karnac.)

Resource Materials

Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lane, D.A. and S. Corrie. 2001. The Modern Scientist-Practitioner: A Guide to Practice in Psychology. London: Routledge.

Stout Rostron, S. 2006. Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour. Unpublished DProf dissertation. London: Middlesex University.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
9Aug/120

Coaching Models for Business Success: The Nested-Levels Model

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching as an Experiential Learning Conversation

One of the core areas where coaches work with clients is that of learning. However, the conversation with your client centers on what is meaningful to them. If significance and relevance are to emerge from the coaching conversation, it doesn't matter what is relevant to you; it matters what is relevant to them. It is therefore important to be aware of your own assumptions about what the client needs.

If you are guiding, directing, and giving your clients all the information they need, it will be difficult for them to ever be free of you. It is helpful if the client embodies new learning personally and physiologically; you can't do their learning for them. What you do as a coach is to help them reconstruct their own thinking and feeling to gain perspective and become self-directed learners. At the end of each coaching session with my clients, we integrate their learning1 with the goals they have set, confirming what action, if any, they are committed to:

  1. Vision-Refine their vision: where is the client going?
  2. Strategy-Outline the strategy: how is the client going to achieve their vision?
  3. Outcomes-What are the specific outcomes that need to be accomplished in the next few weeks in order to work toward achieving the vision, putting the strategy into action?
  4. Learning-Help the client summarize what was gained from the session in order to help underline self-reflection, continuing to help the client understand that they are responsible for their own thinking, their own doing, and their own being.

Nested-Levels Model

Although models create a system within which coach and client learn, it is essential that models are not experienced as either prescriptive or rigid. If the model is inflexible, it means it is fulfilling the coach's agenda, rather than attempting to understand the client's issues.

This nested-levels model was developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004), and introduces the concept of horizontal and vertical levels in coaching models. The nested model works first at the horizontal level of "doing," eventually moving into deeper "learning" one level down; reflecting about self, others, and experience at a third "ontological" level where new knowledge emerges about oneself and the world (Figure1).

In her article, Pam Weiss talks about the two different camps of coaches. In jest, I call them the New York versus the Los Angeles camp. The New York camp says, "I'm the expert, let me fix you," while the L.A. camp says, "You are perfect and whole and have all of your own answers." Joking aside, each of these camps comes up short, even though coaches often fall into one or the other. The role of coaching is actually about developing human beings. It is not really about "I have the expertise" versus "you already have all your own answers."

The Expert Approach

Contrary to what experts might think, clients are not broken and are not in need of fixing. Clients may be anxious, stressed, nervous, overworked, and even narcissistic—but they don't need fixing. They are mostly healthy human beings going about their jobs and lives, experiencing their own human difficulties. Your job as coach is to help the clients learn for themselves, so that when you are no longer walking alongside them, they have become "self-directed" learners (Harri-Augstein and Thomas, 1991) and do not need you anymore. The second view about "expertise" also has limitations. The role of expertise is that, as coach, you are an expert; but coaching is not about the coach giving all the answers; that tends to be the role of the consultant, i.e., to find solutions for the client.

The "You-Have-All-the-Answers" Approach

The "you have all the answers" assumption is partially true, but there are several limitations. The first one is that we all have blind spots, and it is your job as coach to help the client to identify their blind spots. Secondly, it's perhaps a bit of "mythical" thinking that the client has all of the answers already; the flip side of that argument is that, if it does not work out, the client assumes blame and fault. In other words, "If I have all the answers, I should be able to do it myself without help." If that is not the case, they could feel, "Oh dear, if I am not able to do it myself, then perhaps I'm a failure."

Both of these approaches are "horizontal," i.e., they skim the surface of the work you can do with the client. Both help people to maintain the lives they currently have. The expert "New York" approach helps the client to do it better, faster, and more efficiently, and the "Los Angeles" approach may withhold key insights and observations from the coach that could help build the client's awareness of their blind spots. What is important, rather than "fixing" the client, is the skill of "observation" on the part of the coach. There is no problem in helping the client to do it better, faster, or more efficiently—that is often what the organization hopes for in terms of performance improvement. However, it is important for the client to gain the learning they need to address blind spots and to build their own internal capacity and competence.

Learning Level

If you continue to help people accomplish tasks, achieve goals, and keep on "doing," they risk falling into the trap of being "busy" and possibly overwhelmed. They may not, however, necessarily get the "learning" they need to develop self-awareness and self-management. I know all too well about this trap of being excessively busy. If we keep "doing" without reflection, we eventually burn out. To keep individual executives performing better and better, they need to work at one level lower-at the level of learning. They need to learn how to "do the doing" better. As soon as an executive begins to work with a coach, they begin the possibility of working at one or two levels deeper.

As coach, you will be asking questions to help clients reflect, review, and gain useable knowledge from their experience. In the nested-levels model, the higher levels don't include the lower ones, but the lower levels include the higher ones. So we need to help clients address their purpose one level down, at the level of learning. At this level you may ask questions such as, "How are you doing? What are you doing? What are you feeling? How are your peers/colleagues experiencing you/this? What is and what isn't working? What is useful learning for you here? What needs to change and how?"

Ontological Levels-Being and Becoming

The third and fourth levels of the coaching intervention using this model are that ofwho the client is and who the client wishes to become in terms of thinking, feeling, and being. Your questions move from "what do they need to do" and "how do they need to do it" (doing), to "how does their style of learning impact on how they do what they do; what do they need to learn in order to improve thinking/behavior/feeling/performance/leadership" (learning); to questions about "what do they need to understand and acknowledge about themselves, who are they, how do they be who they are, and what needs to change (being and becoming)?"

So what assists people in getting things done? Above all, it is about clarifying goals, creating action steps, taking responsibility, and being accountable. In order to perform more effectively, we need to help clients shift down a gear to learn how to work with competence (a set of skills) rather than just learning a specific new skill.

Learning

Your job as coach is to help the client be open to possibilities of learning something new, and to help them relate to themselves and others at a deeper level. To use the nested-levels model, you could ask questions such as:

  1. What is it that your client(s) want to do? What is their aim or purpose in working with you?
  2. What do they need to learn in order to make the change? What in their thinking, feeling, and behavior needs to change in order to do the doing better? How can they use their own experience to learn what is needed?
  3. How do, and how will, their thoughts, feelings, and behavior impact on how they "be who they are" and "who is it that they want to become"? In this way, we work at horizontal and vertical levels. At the end of the day, the client's new attitudes, behaviors, motivations, and assumptions begin to impact positively on their own performance and their relationships with others.

Our aim with this model is to shift any limiting sense of who the client is so that they can interact and engage with the world in new ways. As clients begin to shift, it has an impact on others with whom they interact in the workplace. It also means addressing issues systemically, from a holistic perspective, whether those issues revolve around health, stress, anxiety, performance, or relationships with others. Our task as coaches is to widen the circle, enlarge the perspective of the client, and help them learn from their own experience how to reach their potential.

A great way to start any coaching intervention is to ask your clients to tell their life story. The coach begins to understand some of the current issues and presenting challenges, and begins to observe patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Because we work with Kolb's theory of "understanding experience in order to transform it into useable knowledge," this model helps us to determine the context in which the client operates, where individual and systemic problems may be occurring, and how organizational values and culture impact on individuals and teams. It is at this level that the coach's ability to observe, challenge, and ask appropriate questions can be most transformational.

In Conclusion

Coaching models help us understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective, analyzing the "structure" of the interaction between coach and client. This series of articles takes a practical look at how coaching models are constructed, and how they can help you to flexibly structure the overall coaching journey as well as the individual coaching conversation with your business client. In my next article, we will explore the use of the U-process model, sometimes known as the "process of transition," typically represented in Scharmer's U-process.

This article is adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009, Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources).Business Coaching International will be published mid 2009 by Karnac, London.

Resource Materials

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.

Stout Rostron, S. (2006). Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour. Unpublished DProf dissertation. London: Middlesex University.

Weiss, P. (2004). "The Three Levels of Coaching." Available at:http://www.newventureswest.com/three_levels.pdf.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


1 "Learning conversations" refers to research into learning conversations and self-organized learning, developed by S. Harri-Augstein and L.F. Thomas (1991:24).

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching(2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). More about Sunnyin the WABC member directory. Contact Sunny.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
6Oct/110

The Achieve Coaching Model® – A Systematic Approach to Greater Effectiveness in Executive Coaching, by Dr. Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldridge

Posted by WABC

Introduction

Everyone in the business coaching profession agrees that executive coaching works. However, according to Coaching and Buying Coaching Services (London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 2004), an even greater impact, more sustainable results and increased effectiveness can be achieved when a systematic approach to executive coaching is applied.

Novice coaches wonder if effective, experienced coaches possess mysterious methods for producing magical results. In fact, the genuine trust that renders coaching effective is created when both coach and client have a clear understanding of the coaching process and methodology. We have always believed in the value of such transparency, and have made it a cornerstone of our practice. To validate our belief, we conducted research and monitored our own coaching results.

In order to determine and define what actually happens in sessions facilitated by an effective coach, we observed and analyzed transcripts and video tapes from executive coaching colleagues in the US, England and Germany. We investigated how the coach achieved results, what specific actions the coach took to improve executive performance, and what distinguished an effective, experienced coach from a novice. Our observations, analysis and study of various coaching models led to our development of the seven-step Achieve Coaching Model®, which has been applied successfully in some of the finest organizations in the world.

Application of the Achieve Coaching Model®

A brief description of each of the seven steps follows, along with insights into the skills and techniques employed by an effective coach at each stage.

Step 1:  Assess the current situation
In this step, the executive is encouraged to reflect deeply about his or her current situation. The enhanced self-awareness obtained by describing that situation helps in identifying areas to address, and provides a useful context for the sessions ahead. However, the most important benefit of this step is the client's opportunity to reflect on past events, enhance understanding of what specific actions contributed to the current situation, and how those actions may have stimulated specific responses in others.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Makes informed use of assessment instruments (without relying solely on those instruments) to gain an understanding of the client's situation
  • Expresses sincere interest in the client's life stories
  • Takes time to understand the situation from the client's perspective
  • Listens deeply so that the client is fully engaged and feels genuinely understood and valued
  • Creates a sense of connection and comfort, fostering a climate of openness and trust
  • Observes and registers all verbal and non-verbal communication

Step 2:  Brainstorm creative alternatives to the client's current situation
This phase broadens the executive's perspective and creates a sound foundation for the development of creative solutions and behavioral change. The objective is to increase the choices available to a client who is facing a challenging situation.

One of the most pressing issues for clients is the feeling of being "stuck" in a particular situation with no visible alternate course of action available. In some circumstances, particularly in times of heightened stress, perspective can narrow, resulting in mental and emotional "tunnel vision." The effect resembles a confrontation with a massive wall--nothing is visible but that wall.

An effective coach draws the client back and restores a broader perspective, which is a prerequisite for the next stages in the coaching partnership. Absent creative brainstorming, the client continues to circle and repeat the same patterns of behavior. Essentially, the first natural reaction in this "stuck state" is to do "more of the same."

Key coaching behaviors

  • Utilizes a variety of tools and techniques to interrupt the client's habitual patterns, thus breaking the "stuck state"
  • Surprises clients with creative, unexpected questions
  • Brainstorms a variety of alternatives to the current situation, probing beyond initial responses to unearth a broad spectrum of options

Step 3:  Hone goals
In Step 3, the client forges alternatives and possibilities into specific goals. This is the stage at which SMART goals are created and/or refined, and it is essential that the principles of effective goals formulation be taken into account. This is more difficult than it may first appear. Most executives are very aware of what they do not want. However, they frequently find it highly challenging to specify exactly what they do want. In this step, the coach helps the executive to clearly articulate specific, desired results.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Encourages precise definition of goals (in positive terms)
  • Takes time to develop SMART goals
  • Works with the client to develop goal(s) with high personal meaning and relevance
  • Ensures that the goals are, in fact, the client's
  • Develops a specific set of measurements with the client to provide clear evidence of goal achievement

Step 4:  Generate options for goal achievement
Having decided upon a specific goal, the aim at Step 4 is to develop a wide range of methods of achieving it. At this point, the purpose is not to find the "right" option, but rather to stimulate the client to develop an abundant array of alternatives. No option, however seemingly appealing, should form the sole focus of attention. At this stage, the quantity, novelty and variety of the options are more important than their quality or feasibility.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Exhibits confidence in the process and works with the client to develop alternative pathways to the desired goal
  • Uses a broad spectrum of techniques and questioning styles to stimulate the client to generate options
  • Provides space and time for the client to think creatively
  • Ensures that the client  "owns" the options generated

Step 5:  Evaluate options
Having generated a comprehensive list of options, the next step is for the client to evaluate and prioritize them. As is the case in Step 3, "Hone Goals," this is the stage at which an experienced coach can guide the executive towards developing focus. Without a well-defined focus for action, the executive is unlikely to move forward effectively.

We have found that executives who are skilled at evaluating options for their business objectives often find it difficult to apply the same techniques to their private lives. In such situations, the coach can serve to remind the client of the value of these techniques, and encourage their application on a personal level.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Encourages the client to develop personally meaningful criteria for the evaluation of options, since these criteria form the basis for option selection
  • Probes the client to develop a comprehensive evaluation of each option
  • Ensures that the key options and their evaluation are fixed in writing for future reference

Step 6:  Design a valid action plan
As one coach described it, "This is where the rubber meets the road!"  At this stage, a concrete and pragmatic action plan is designed. One of the main advantages of executive coaching in industry and commerce is that it provides "just in time" learning and development when and where an executive needs it. This stage of committing to a plan means that the executive is ready to take action.

With many executive development programs, the challenge is translating "classroom learning" into everyday practice. Coaching helps bridge this gap, and the executive commits to taking action using newly acquired skills.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Creates a detailed action plan with the client
  • Works with the client to check the feasibility and achievability of the plan
  • Fixes the action plan in writing
  • Ensures the client's commitment to the action plan

Step 7:  Encourage momentum
This is represented as the final stage in the Achieve Coaching Model®. While the final step in a coaching partnership may be to facilitate the client's execution of the defined action plan, the role of the coach in encouraging momentum between coaching sessions is equally important.

As a US coach explained, encouraging momentum is a "crucial part of the process. Until the new behavior becomes the new reality, it remains difficult...executives who are in the transformation process need encouragement and reinforcement."  We have found that it is important to reinforce even the smallest steps, since this helps to build and maintain momentum and increase the executive's level of confidence. Cumulative small action steps create the critical mass necessary to accomplish the desired goal. Sustainable change is easier to achieve with continuous reinforcement and encouragement.

Key coaching behaviors

  • Demonstrates continuing interest in the development of the client
  • Organizes regular "check-in/keep-on-track/follow-up" coaching sessions
  • Takes measures throughout the coaching program to avoid dependency, and knows when to end the partnership

Conclusion

The aim of this article has been to describe and provide insights into the practical application of the Achieve Coaching Model®. Coaches can use the model to structure their coaching sessions and coaching programs without confining the coach to a "straightjacket" which inhibits flexibility and individuality. For those considering hiring a coach, the model provides a transparent, forthright description of coaching methodology. It can also help potential clients to evaluate coaches when choosing those with whom they wish to work.
Source:

"Coaching and Buying Coaching Services." 2004. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. London. Available at http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/lrnanddev/coachmntor/coachbuyservs.htm?IsSrchRes=1

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 1). Copyright 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Sabine Dembkowski, Ph.D is based in Cologne, Germany. Following a successful career as a top management consultant at A.T. Kearney and Monitor Company, Sabine founded The Coaching Centre, an international consultancy for executive coaching and leadership services. Read more about Sabine in the WABC Coach Directory. Sabine can be reached by email at sabinedembkowski@thecoachingcentre.com.
Fiona Eldridge is the Director of The Coaching and Communication Centre. She is a Master Practitioner and Certified Trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming. Fiona has appeared on television and radio and frequently contributes to newspapers and journals. Learn more about her work at The Coaching and Communication Centre. Fiona can be reached by email at fionaeldridge@coachingandcommunication.com.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.