I have been asked to do a mini-series of trainings on coaching for a group of highly skilled and experienced consultants in the medical field. This is a group I have high regard for because of their skill and I know that teaching them to coach will be a challenge.
They have several unconscious barriers to coaching that we will have to break through before they can succeed at coaching.
Unconscious Barrier #1: Being The Expert.
The biggest barrier to the ability to coach, for highly skilled and experienced individuals, is all the knowledge, experience and familiarity with the topic that they have. They have reached expert status. Consultants are hired for their expertise, and this makes it extremely difficult for them to switch into coaching. An unconscious barrier to experts being able to coach is that they are expected to teach or give advice, by others and by themselves. If they know “it all” there is no room for them to learn.
It is by consciously adopting a learning mindset in every coaching situation that experts can break through this barrier and learn to become effective coaches.
Unconscious Barrier #2: The Fixed Mindset.
According to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, a fixed mindset is having developed a strong opinion about whether or not an individual can change or grow. Proficiency on a topic can lead to judging others as being less proficient. After having experienced a person’s struggle to learn in one situation, could lead to a fixed belief that growth is not possible for that person in any situation. It is this fixed mindset and limiting belief system that unconsciously blocks the ability to coach. We know from neuroscience that there are no limits to brain’s plasticity and ability to adapt and learn. Embracing this concept is a way to break through negative perceptions of another’s ability to grow and develop.
A way around this unconscious barrier to coaching is to adopt the assumption that you and the people around you are capable of learning something new in every encounter.
Unconscious Barrier #3: Distraction.
Our over-stimulating environments result in our having shortened attention spans and the addiction of our brains to distraction. This makes it exceedingly difficult to automatically pay full attention to the person right in front of us. The environment offers an explosion of sounds, smells, movement and changing light that can be totally distracting, especially when delivered electronically by our phones, computers and other devices. There always seems to be something flashing, buzzing or chiming to distract us from the person we are supposed to be attending to. The best way to get beyond this distraction is to turn away from it, turn it off, put it in another room and discipline ourselves to become fully present with the person we are with. Only then will we be effective as a coach.
Our audience will not trust or respond to our coaching if we do not honor their presence and listen to their perspectives without switching our gaze to the bleeping device we left in front of us.
Contact me if you need ideas on how to overcome some of these barriers to coaching.