The last few weeks we have written about the three Dreaded Drama Roles (DDT) ™ and the TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ roles of Creator and Challenger. This week we describe the Coach role—-the positive alternative to the Rescuer.
Together, the three TED* roles represent the best of who we are as human beings. A Creator says: “I take responsibility for my life and what I want to create.” The Challenger focuses on continuous learning and telling the truth about current reality.
The Coach completes the triad by asking: “How are you/we going to create what you/we want?” Coaches become curious and listen deeply as they become supportive partners in the discovery process. (And do not need to be a professional coach to embrace this role.)
What is curiosity? Curiosity means investigation, exploration and simply, “wanting to find out.” If you want to “find out,” it implies that you don’t know or are open to possibilities. Therefore, curiosity necessitates that you embrace “not knowing.” This is the opposite of the Rescuer, who thinks they know best and intervenes, even when not asked.
If you have a sense of “knowing” and want to ask a question from the place of “I know this or that,” you are leaving the space of curiosity. Your question will be directed to a specific outcome and will manipulate the conversation toward that path.
Just the opposite, a Coach asks powerful and probing questions to clarify outcomes, discern current reality and assumptions, and partner with others to determine and commit to incremental Baby Steps.
Three beliefs are foundational to the Coach role. They are:
Belief #1: I have faith in the wisdom that lies within.
When in the Coach role, there is a spaciousness that arises from the faith that answers and insights exist within the other. With this faith, a Coach allows time for the individual’s unique learning process to unfold, while holding them as ultimately whole and complete. Above all, a Coach sees those they support as Creators who can make their own choices.
Belief #2: I trust the discovery process.
Believing in the Creator essence within themselves and others, a Coach trusts the process of allowing and emerging, rather than pushing, pulling or grasping. They stay attuned to emotions and celebrate movement and progress. A Coach uses their intuition to sense obstacles or barriers, as well as when ease and flow are present. The discovery process begins with curiosity, recognizing and observing something that is not yet clear or understood. This lack of understanding is not resignation or ignorance, but an openness to find out what is really going on and, when clarity emerges, discerning the way forward.
Belief #3: I believe in leaving the power with others as they clarify what they want.
A Coach understands that, during the discovery process, a deeper clarity arises that generates energy for action. When people are fulfilled and are discovering their own path, they are more creative and innovative. The “aha” moments that come from deep inquiry clears away a person’s confusion, opens into clarity and understanding, which creates passion and desire for action.
For managers in organizations, learning the art of inquiry and the skill of curiosity will help you relax as a Coach so you can partner with those you supervise and lead in a powerful and fulfilling new way. As you see the other as a Creator, whether they act like it or whether they know it, you can now partner with them in an exciting journey of discovery.
Inquiry with curiosity requires that you challenge yourself toward what you know and don’t know. In the work environment, your prior experience with projects, co-workers and bosses can affect your sense of knowing. You may think you “know” others and their response to situations or questions. The bias of “knowing” is that you can’t begin to investigate a situation if you think you know all there is to know about it.
If you are not free from “knowing” you will not ask powerful questions. At best, they will be leading with closed-ended questions and you will rob the other person of their reflective process that helps them arrive at what is true for them. At worst, you will tell others what to do, which disempowers them from engaging and investigating their own creativity.
Whether in your personal or professional life, embrace the Coach role as a way to support others to clarify what they most desire and want in life. And as a Creator, open yourself to being a Coach—-and to being coached!