Be a better coach: what I learnt from my Professional Coaching course
In early 2022, me and my colleague Gareth Bragg enrolled in a course to take our coaching to the next level. Our coaching education up to that point had been our Introduction to Coaching management training plus any books we’d read. We felt that we could be providing more value as coaches and that the time was right to do more.
We learnt many things, but I wanted to share some key points that very much resonate with me and may be of interest to anyone who is interested in improving their coaching.
What was the course?
Our Certificate for Professional Coaching Practice (CPCP) course was done through Full Circle. Taken from the course manual, the course is described as: “The CPCP course provides a comprehensive professional development experience that teaches participants a practical set of tools, techniques and models, and includes supervised coaching from experienced credentialed coaches.”
The course took about 5 months and consisted of 5 steps:
- Classroom training
- Masterclasses in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Core Competencies of being a coach
- Observed coaching sessions with members of the course
- Real client coaching — working with a real client, the sessions are assessed, and feedback given to the coach
- Formal assessment — one of the real client sessions is assessed against the ICF core competencies
While Professional Coaching is only one aspect of the Redgate Coach role, the coaching practices are at the core of everything we do. This course helped to significantly level up those skills and introduce new approaches and mindsets which have noticeably improved how we deliver coaching.
3 roles of the coach
The course started by discussing the role of the coach, and this led to a long list of attributes a coach should exhibit. However, there are 3 main roles of a coach, and they help frame the activities that happen during a coaching engagement.
Guide without leading — it’s about guiding the person through their journey, not leading them to where you want them to get to.
Encourage without cheerleading — Encouragement is key, being supportive and celebrating achievements together. It’s not about cheering them on.
Challenge without pressurising — The coach will ask thought provoking questions and take the person out of their comfort zone, but only in the pursuit of growth. This is not an easy thing to experience, but it is done in safety, with the goal in mind and without pressure.
2 ways to be a better coach
The course covered many things, but these are two that stood out to me to improve how I coach
Be coached to be a better coach
Throughout the course, there was a strong emphasis on not only learning how to coach, but also what it feels like to be coached. Going through the process of being coached, experiencing the process from the other side gives a greater sense of empathy for the coachee.
To effectively coach you must listen actively. To be able to listen actively you must be mentally present in the session. Maintaining presence is something that takes energy and discipline. I found to my detriment that being ill-prepared for a coaching session, not being in the right headspace, affected my ability to be present
My 1 top takeaway
HOLD — THE — SPACE
Talk less, listen more. This is a common phrase when talking about coaching, but the value of holding the space for the coachee was demonstrated and emphasised throughout the course. Holding the space isn’t just about listening, it’s about creating a safe space for the person to feel they can think, reflect and share. Staying silent is hard, and feels really awkward to start with, but it pays dividends. It gives the coach the chance to observe the coachee as they are thinking or speaking as well as demonstrating to the coachee that the coach is there for them, and is being attentive, focused and responsive to their needs.
All too often, we feel the need to jump in, to ask that next burning question, to move the conversation along. Stop. Take time and allow the coachee the time to answer fully, with thinking time. There’s no rush!