My key "take-aways" from this book for a coach

'Start with Why'-How great leaders inspire everyone to action by Simon Sinek

My motivation for going back and reflecting on my ‘whys’ was to revisit why I choose to do what I do. It is something that I particularly recommend to anyone who has decided to chart their own course and meets the occasional bump in the road and is looking to recharge their motivational batteries.

From the lens of a coach committed to serving others and helping them to become everything they can be, here are my key Take-Aways' from this book.

1. The power of 'Why?' By and large and particularly at the beginning of a coaching assignment, I see Coachees present with 'Whats' and 'Hows'. Our first over-riding aim should be to get them to explain their ‘Whys'. Sinek makes an incredibly compelling case for the power of the 'why?'. The first phase of a coaching engagement is a critical time when we need to be appropriately assertive with our Coachees and not avoid awkward questions for the fear of upsetting the 'mood music' or 'closing down' our Coachee. If you contract well with your Coachee and establish clear ‘rules of engagement’ and boundaries, this will alleviate the tendency to block avenues of conversation where the greatest potential for developing your Coachee might lie.

2. Separate the Coachee's motivation from their inspiration. In the jumble of competing thoughts going on in the Coachee's head, helping your Coachee to 'separate the wood from the trees' can be challenging and requires intense levels of Active Listening.

3. Make the Coachee appreciate the difference between Novelty and Innovation. As with point 2, these concepts can come across as quite similar unless you are able to break your questions down in a logical way and allow your Coachee to recognize the differences and appreciate the cause, effects, consequences/outcomes and knock-on effects of their ideas, dependent on whether it is novelty or innovation that is driving their course of action. A good question to ask is: ‘What will your idea look like in six months/one year/three years/five years from now?

4. If you don't ask your Coachee the right questions at the beginning of the assignment, whatever dialogue that follows will be of hugely diminished value. For me, asking the right questions starts with the 'Three Ps'...PREPARATION, PREPARATION, PREPARATION.

We (should!) charge good money for our services and this is where we earn our fees; by investing the time to gain a full picture of our Coachee, their context and their eco-system. I would always recommend the Coachee taking some form of behavioural assessment prior to the coaching engagement as it will give you a far greater understanding of your Coachee's behavioural traits and allow you to prepare more penetrating, insightful and resourceful questions from the outset.

My personal favourite from the plethora of assessments available is Harrison Assessments because its use of Paradox Theory produces an excellent overall picture of a Coachee's likely behavioural preferences across 12 common dimensions. Particularly in corporate settings where you may be dealing with a third party sponsor, there can be resistance to making an additional investment in psychometric behavioural profiling. My counsel is for you to hold your ground and do what you can to encourage this additional investment. In my experience, it will lead to richer outcomes from the overall coaching engagement.


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