Decisional coaching benefits from a flow of rich and varied sets of information, facilitated by questionnaires, assessments, inventories and interviews – all instruments of data gathering. First, the Decisional coach administers one or more self-assessments to a client: questionnaires that help this client identify, learn about, learn through and expand her repertoire of executive behaviors. Moving beyond the information contained in the self-assessment, comparable assessments are provided by other people with whom his client works, so that the client may compare and interpret the broader perspectives. The self-referential perspective is thus expanded by including the expectations of the colleagues (and thus of the organization) and their view of how the person can succeed.
Using the instrumented coaching model, the Decisional coach then helps his client assess the interplay between her personal styles, values and attitudes and the environment and culture in which she works. With this information in hand, the coach reflects with his client on ways in which her styles, values and attitudes are manifest in the challenges she faces every day in his working environment. Together they discover or invent ways in which to further enhance the use of her strengths and ensure the presence of conditions in the workplace that are conducive to the use of these strengths, for the benefit of the individual and the organization in which she is embedded.
The Decisional coach provides a systematic, reality-based and structured process of self-discovery for his client through the use of observational coaching. This process enables his client to identify her distinctive strengths as observed by the coach under actual working conditions. Using the observational coaching model, the Decisional coach collects information from his colleague regarding her own perceptions of personal strengths and then compares this with personal observation and occasionally audio or video-recordings of his client’s work.
Increasingly, leaders invite coaches to shadow them in real time, by attending meetings or listening into conference calls, in order for the coach to gain the most unadulterated view of how the person operates in their real life, often stressful, surroundings. The observations are then fed back thoughtfully to the client, allowing the coach and the manager to collaboratively reflect on the meaning and implications of the findings.
An Overview of Coaching Strategy III: Aspirational Coaching
While we firmly believe that Aspirational coaching should be a central component of any masterful and comprehensive organizational coaching system, it is a strategy that is open to a wide range of approaches that may or may not be perceived as fitting certain organizational cultures. This third organizational coaching strategy is typically engaged through one of four models that relate specifically to the values and aspirations of the person being coached.
The philosophical coach encourages and assists her coaching client to probe deeply into his underlying assumptions and beliefs, and to reflect on how these underlying assumptions and beliefs relate to and impact on his perceptions and actions in all aspects of life. Much like the reflective coach, the Aspirational coach who takes a philosophical stance will inquire into the ways in which her client approaches, interprets and acts on the challenges she faces in an organizational setting. The philosophical coach, however, probes at a much deeply conceptual level than does the reflective coach—often asking him what specific words mean to him or what meaning resides behind a story that he often recounts to other people inside and outside his organization.
As employees express a growing thirst for meaning, storytelling has become one of the most recognized leadership tools. The client who has had a chance to reflect on the philosophical underpinnings of his beliefs and actions (even if the word philosophy is never used as such in the coaching conversation) will often move hearts and minds with greater ease and be able to point to a “bigger picture.”