Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You Don't Need Me For The Answers

Since I started coaching a bit over two years ago, I have told my clients, I don't have your answers. In fact, I have told them (often much to their dismay) there is nothing that I can tell them that they can't find in a book at the library, on the web, or quite honestly, in their own mind. One of Seth Godin's recent blogs, "Your Nuts If You Believe Me" drives home the point once again.

You don't need a coach to provide you answers - if you read my blog from a couple days ago, "Why Do I Need A Coach" you learned that a coach does a whole lot to help you reach your goals, least of which is trying to run your business for you - or do the work / providing answers for you.

If you want that kind of help, then hire a consultant, get a business partner, or hire someone to come in and run things for you - but a coach is not what you want or need.

Many times, my clients will contact me and ask me what they should do in a certain situation - about sales or marketing, about a troubled employee, or about an issue with a customer, etc. They think that I have all the answers - or they think that they pay me to provide them all the answers. They want the magic solution that will fix all of their problems.

Do I have an answer for them? Sure, but I rarely share it, because providing answers is treating the symptoms. Giving them my answer might help right this second to treat the symptom, but will rarely solve the problem. They don't need my answer - they need to know how to find their own answer. They need to create a system / process that will fix the root problems in a business.

So, instead I steer them to their own solutions.

If it's a question about the direction they should go, I usually direct them to their own constitution - their mission, vision, commitments (the principles upon which their business is founded) and their goals. I ask them what they think they should do within the scope of those documents. And to their own surprise, nearly every time, they find the answer. If not, we work on finding it together.

If it's a question about best techniques or tools that should be used in a given situation, I help them find the tools that will work best for their unique situation. Sure, sometimes, I provide the tools - but more often I share ideas and techniques that they choose from to help them create a solution that works for them.

One thing I've learned from 20 years in the military and 9+ years of raising children, is that commitment to a process is much stronger and the value gained from that process is much greater when an individual is guided to a solution, choosing it on their own, rather than being told to do it or being given it by someone else.

The key is that a coach's or mentor's job isn't to be the solution to the problem, but to be the guide that helps you find the solution to your problem. Giving you the solution creates dependency, while helping you find the answers promotes independence.

So don't look at your coach, mentor, or even your leaders to open door to solutions for you. Instead look at them as individuals that hand you the keys to unlock the doors to the solutions that you choose yourself. It's not what a coach provides you specifically, but instead, it's what a coach does to help you learn how to help yourself.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree, a coach is simply a conduit guiding thoughts in the right direction to that aHa moment!

    A solution found is much more valuable than a solution sold (WOW that's almost profound!).

    Many people think they need a coach to tell them the answers and I am sure there are equally as many unscrupulous coaches who will be happy to do just that to ensure their importance in the lives of their clients.

    My coach is my journal because I realise that I probably already know what I need to know deep down, I just have to clear the path to find it! But thanks for the reminder...helping me, help me!