I have often wondered, in my pursuit of Coaching as to what I am really engaged with. Is it simply, goal directed action based on the initial threesome meeting and the consequent journey through myriad ways to getting there. Is it delivering the Sponsors brief, assuming of course that the Coachee has full acceptance and importantly ownership to it? Is it about offering, data in the most objective and in a very caring way! Is it about building awareness and working on strategies that will lead to a changed perspective and therefore to changed behaviors. Or is it also something deeper and substantial? – Is it just transactional effectiveness or is there a need to work at the level of identity – the Self?
As I reflect on these questions, a very interesting experience that I am currently engaged with threw more light to my search for answers. Rajesh and I started our journey as equals in the sacred engagement of a Coach Coachee relationship. He had taken over as a CEO of a medium sized business and his boss (the group MD) had wanted me to help him with his transition to the new role – it was as broad as that! He did of course spell out in our three way, the strengths of Rajesh and of his areas for improvement, which was really about becoming and being a CEO as distinct from his earlier role as the Head of Sales for the business.
We began our journey in the cautious way that we normally do – taking small steps, polite and warm, trying to understand each other, and build a sense of relatedness with each other. And after our first few meetings, the formal relationship that we had started with became more informal and we started to enjoy each other’s company – share some of our common interests like Cricket (no prizes for guessing that right!) and clearly we moved to what I am now calling the “comfort” phase. And as we started talking about “CEO”, we sort of moved sideways to the subject of “relationships” – an important area for the CEO. I nudged Rajesh very cautiously with “two parts rolled into one” question– how do you want to be remembered (in terms of relationships) and how are you seen as a maintainer, developer and nurturer of relationships. This sort of triggered Rajesh to expand and talk through the first part initially and as he explored the second part there was a catharsis of sorts. While all along he had believed he was great in relationships, it was only now, while reflecting at what he is in relation to his aspiration that the proverbial penny actually dropped! He felt he had let himself down, particularly in the context of being a CEO and the gravitas and persona that the role demanded. He wanted time to reflect and I was happy for it.
I touched base with Rajesh after the heavy rains and when the weather got a bit kinder and cooler. Rajesh had made some commitments to himself and shared them with me, the most significant being that he needs to work with himself, particularly re-examining the intent –impact dimension of his behaviors. It was most satisfying when Rajesh confirmed that he has started to find links to purpose and meaning of his life and that new pathways had opened up. This was an interesting self-disclosure considering that we had not as yet embarked on the 360 and were very much on the one on one mode.
This experience in its sense of purity and impact lead me to ponder. Is there an exploration of “humanness” that goes beyond the brief? Can awareness heightened by one’s own exploration bring forth a change? Is there an emergence of a new identity? It appeared to be so.
I reflected, should we now turn to our formal brief but then did we ever depart from it!