Show up Like a Coach: It Will Change Your Life
Book Author: Jennifer Gerves-Keen, MA, MCEC
Jennifer and I are colleagues and friends and I have the great privilege of learning with and from her.
There are many books available on coaching and related topics but for me Jennifer’s new book is a ‘must -read’; I finished it in one sitting and it is now on my ‘short list’ of books that I will be recommending to coaching clients.
‘Show Up Like a Coach’ offers valuable insights and practical tips for both coach and client alike. Paying attention to and deepening my self-awareness is directly related to the support I am able to bring to clients. Jennifer deals directly with that in discussing our ‘triggers’ and how they work against us being fully present. So work on consciously freeing ourselves from our own ‘narrative’ enables us to be available to our clients in a more complete and focused way.
Jennifer highlights the place of reading widely as a way to extend our learning and to apply the critical mindset of curiosity and its close ‘cousin’, active listening. While the literature of leadership can be very useful to the coach, so too can a variety of perspectives from other writers where one learns to develop empathy and understanding beyond what a narrower menu might generate.
A few other ideas from Jennifer’s book stay with me. The linking of “Listening” and its “dance partner presence” has direct impact and application to a current engagement: I have a senior client for whom a conversation anchored in this simple phrase will almost certainly offer possible approaches as he focuses his development on some more helpful and positive behaviours.
Empathy is very much at the heart of the privileged relationship we have with our clients. Jennifer’s book gave rise to two thoughts for me: first, empathy is not separate and apart from a tough-minded approach to supporting clients. On the contrary, understanding the client and his or her current situation enables us to bring our best selves to the work.
Second, when aligned with our humility and curiosity, empathy deepens our ability to appreciate our clients more completely as they share their stories, their hopes and of course their fears.
Finally, as I do a quick flip through my now marked up copy of Jennifer’s book, I note a highlighted passage. It struck me at the time as key and it still does:
“Great feedback conversations must have equally-great follow-up conversations”
Just one of many sage insights which when applied thoughtfully can make each of us “even more effective” in providing value to our clients.