So…where do you get your Authority?
It’s not from your position, your education, or how much you know. In your role as coach you get your Authority through an Outer Game and an Inner Game — and both are essential:
The Outer Game: Ask your client for the authority to disrupt their thinking. You can say (in your own words),”I want you to get the results you value. I will listen carefully to you, then let’s expand your possibilities for insight and action. I may challenge your assumptions and test your ideas to improve your thinking. You make all the decisions here, but I aim to stimulate better thinking along the way.”
Now comes the crucial step: Look them straight in the eye and ask, “Do you want me to challenge you candidly and directly?” Be sure to get a clear Yes! from your client. If you sense any hesitation, probe their concern and adjust your approach to make it fit for them and for you.
The Inner Game: Grant yourself the authority to make a bigger difference. Be bold for the sake of your client, not yourself. Start by taking a stand for your client’s greatness, whether they see it or not. Assume there is something very valuable to be discovered, and you are navigating the conversation to help find it. Give yourself permission to take charge (of the conversation flow) without taking over (the client’s ownership.)
Now put them together. Stay connected through listening and empathy, but bring your own rigorous discernment to what you hear. Where are the gaps? What’s their evidence? What’s a reasonable different view to explore? As a true thought partner, you test their ideas to make sure they are solid and encourage their next level of greatness.
This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. You can master these and many more advanced coaching skills at the next virtual Powerful Conversations training for experienced leaders and coaches, May 9 – August 29, 2017. The course features intensive learning in a small group with lots of practice and precise feedback to deepen your impact. Learn more here.