The secret of being an effective coach
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
When you get to certain stage in your career (and to a certain age!), you can look back on the great influences that helped you get to where you are. That includes the great and the good, as well as those people, or philosophies, that didn't quite resonate or work out as planned.
Without doubt, the greatest influence on my working life has been Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I guess that it helped that my lucky number is 7! Ever since I was introduced to the great man's philosophy in the early '90s, these 'simple' but effective rules have helped me to shape my attitude towards both myself and to others.
OK, so how did this work for me? Well, I first read the book in California in the spring of 1997 (yes, it helps that the weather's warm, you're on holiday and the sun is high.....I said the sun!) I have to admit that I disregarded the religious parts (not being of that particular persuasion), and soon got pulled into the simplicity, and genius, of Covey's message. This was....first, get your own house in order, and then you can get the best out of others.
Now, we all have our own way of learning (the professionals call it a 'blended' approach); so for me, it was to read, then re read and highlight those statements that resonated with me. Don't value judge it, just highlight those sentences (and, as it was my book, I soon got over the perceived defacement). Then to reinforce these pearls of wisdom, I typed up those sentences on to a Word document, to create a summary of the book. As I'm typing, I'm reading, as I'm reading, I'm understanding, and as I'm understanding, I'm learning.
Now, I have something that is more digestible and portable. So I read and absorb, read and absorb. Then, most importantly, I start to put it into practice to make it a HABIT. How can I become proactive, and take full responsibility for what goes on in my life? How can I get out of that damn 'circle of concern' and live in my 'circle of influence'? How can I 'begin with the end in mind' (what end?), then figure out where to start by 'prioritising' what's actually important and not urgent (and to be more patient!).
So those bits are all about me. Now, how do I now get the best out of others? Well, the key was to put my own ego away, and genuinely 'think of others before myself' (I knew my Scouting would come in handy!). It's all about communication, collaboration and compromise (I do like my little models!). Thinking about the other person and not just about me! If we both 'win', then we both succeed. Sounds simple, but when you really suspend your own competitive drive, and bring along the other person as well as yourself, it really makes for a longer term positive investment, and with greater returns.
Now for what is probably the hardest bit......how the hell do you 'seek first to understand', before getting into that natural 'I can fix it mode'? How do you learn to shut up, suspend all judgement, and totally immerse yourself in what is going on with the other person, and from their perspective? But if you can do that, you do actually learn more about the other person, and help them in the way they need help, and not how you think they need it, or how you would like to support them. Tough....but doable, if you continuously work at it.
As for habits 6 and 7, well now you're on a roll. One of the greatest lessons in life for mewas to realise that I didn't know it all, and never would! So if I can harness the knowledge of others, along with the minuscule amount that I know (Covey calls it 'synergy'), then "Pow!".....that's one hell of a lot of wisdom out there! And we all benefit. As for the final lesson, Covey taught me to keep it all moving along in the right direction. You never stop learning; you never stop developing; and you never get complacent..... So keep your mind 'sharp', and freshen it up 'continuously'.
So my next challenge was how can I make all of this a reality for those who work for me and with me? Well, I've been specialising in recruitment for 30 years, so I started to figure out how to be an even better recruiter by using the 7 wisdoms of the working world. First, my Word document needed to come off of the page, and brought to life. So I created a mini workshop, and made it highly interactive. Give them a bit of the theory, but then challenge them to think about how to be a more effective recruiter as they interact with their clients.
For example, get it 'right from the start', by stating that you both want the same 'end in mind'....that’s a great hire! Then, be 'proactive' by creating a genuine partnership......you're the professional recruiter, and they are the professional engineer, lawyer, banker, social worker......that's the opportunity for 'synergy', and getting a 'win/win' result! Next, seek to genuinely 'understand' the real challenges your clients are facing, by asking the right type of questions to understand their motivations and drivers. And finally, share what's going on in the world of recruitment that impacts them....you don't want to be seen as just another recruiter!
So thank you Mr Covey for helping me to change my life. You have helped me to change the lives of many people, even if it's just by a little bit.