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What Does a Coach Really Do?

What Does a Coach Really Do?

by Adam Hickman
What Does a Coach Really Do?

Doing something wrong? Need help improving? Oftentimes, coaching or mentoring is the go-to solution, whether the need is a disciplinary action, or just to help someone adapt to "how things are done around here." So, when I was invited to Strengths-Based Coaching, I assumed it was just another way to right what was wrong with me. Instead, I learned about the practice and value of coaching from a talent-focused perspective. Coaching is performance-based. Strengths-based coaching is not about fixing a person, but unlocking their powerful potential.

Early in my career, I obtained a coach who is now one my close friends. This person is always someone I can count on to give me the advice I do not want to hear, and alternately the advice I hope to hear. You know -- the joys of a coach. Command is No. 2 for me; thus, I often cast emotions aside in favor of hard-charging action. I have been called bold, assertive or self-sufficient. My coach helped me focus this feedback in a way that I could not have done on my own. She gave me the self-awareness of my talent's vulnerability and helped me understand just how effective and powerful Command can be in its prime. I rarely ever reflected on the wake I left behind me, and now I lead with what is ahead of me. I leverage my Analytical and Individualization to think before acting. Without my coach, I would not be where I am today. My performance and contributions to the work that I do every day invigorate me and engage my dominant themes. Learning how to leverage my strengths took a strengths-based coach and learning to appreciate and claim those talents.

The titles coach and mentor have similar connotations. The term coach as a verb means to train or instruct. The word mentor as a verb means to advise or train someone, especially a younger colleague. In my experience, mentoring sessions were task-driven with a defined end date. The mentoring relationship was more about reaching the goal of the task rather than building the relationship. I did not share as much as I would have shared with a coach because of the bias I had going into the conversation with the mentor.

For those Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches out there in the world, you know the abundance of differences between coaching and mentoring. Coaching with CliftonStrengths (CS) is using Gallup's science to build talented individuals. We begin by building a relationship with the client. We then use tools, evidence and insights to help them know themselves better. A coach sits in the passenger seat, helping a client to understand, adjust and guide themselves in pursuit of improved performance.

Don Clifton once said, "Our lives are shaped by our interactions with others. Whether we have a long conversation with a friend or simply place an order at a restaurant, every interaction makes a difference." My Competition hears those words and ignites the possibilities that still are ahead of me.

The world is shifting, and people are asking for a coach in their life now more than ever. In Gallup's latest research on millennials, a coach is defined as someone who understands the individual and motivates that person. A coach individualizes expectations and removes barriers for high performance, and 59% of millennials report that the opportunity to learn and grow is extremely important to them. There is no time like now to do exactly that: understand and motivate. Be the coach that so many people require.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Adam Hickman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Command, Analytical, Competition and Individualization.

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