Posts Tagged ‘coaching strengths’

Strong weaknesses or weak strengths?

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching principles

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I read a report recently, and typically I can’t find it now, that looked at how much leadership coaching is focused on developing strengths versus addressing weaknesses.

As I recall there were some regional differences (and some of that may have been cultural) but for the most part coaching – certainly at the executive level – is an exercise in developing strengths.

There may be some obvious reasons for this. Coaches tend to be an optimistic bunch and may just be happier working in that context. External coaches are paid to get a result and that commercial reality may mean they see quicker and easier wins focusing on building strengths.

But the other point of view is perhaps best captured in the title of Marshall Goldsmith’s recent book “What got you here won’t get you there!” In other words it may be the individuals strengths which have delivered them to their position today but it may be their weaknesses that are now keeping them stuck.

On the subject of weaknesses, in my corporate days this was a word that HR seemed to want struck from the lexicon entirely. All sorts of other phrases were offered as substitutes: development areas, training needs, learning points, etc. Most people I think always recognised that there were things they weren’t very good at whatever we called them.

Personally, I don’t see it as an either or choice. I consider the people I coach best placed to determine what they need to do to solve problems or move towards their goals and this may mean addressing a ‘weakness’ or it may mean developing a ‘strength’.

But that’s just my view, what do you think?

• When you’re coaching are you conscious of addressing strengths or weaknesses?
• Does it matter?
• Is it different for Internal and External coaches?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

By the way, the most interesting answer I ever heard to the old cliché question of, “What do you consider your weaknesses?”, was “My strengths. If I over-play them!” How would you respond to that?

Oh, and if anyone can remind me where I may have seen this reported, can you let me know, so I can download it again.

A conversation to build on strengths

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Questions

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A conversation to build on strengths

A conversation to build on strengths

In the previous three posts we saw that Ed had problems coping with nerves, Ringo had problems with delegation and Nat had problems adapting to change. I’ve fallen for the same trap I warned you of earlier. I am focusing too much on coaching as a means of restoring performance not developing performance or building on strengths. Let’s look at that now.

Curtis runs a small consultancy business providing a range of support and training for owners and managers of small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Late last year he employed Elaine as a personal assistant. Elaine has a wealth of experience and had a good career with one of the large oil companies before leaving to have a family. Recently Elaine has been taking a real interest in helping Curtis build the business and has been accompanying him to client meetings. She has also been researching – on her own initiative – ways they could use technology and the internet in the business. They are having their customary morning coffee.

Elaine I notice that your due to see Johnston technologies this afternoon
Curtis Yes, that’s right. I could do without it to be honest, we’ve that much on already.
Elaine I could go.
Curtis Ok, Let’s talk that through. What do you think you should aim to get from the meeting?
Elaine To get him to sign up for the 3 month support package!
Curtis Well that would be nice as a sort of maximum, but what would be the minimum you’d want to achieve?
Elaine Err. I suppose if I left just having made a good impression and with his agreement to continue meeting with us that would be something.
Curtis Yes. It would. Expecting to get a sale every meeting perhaps creates too much pressure.

We have the makings of a good set of aims

Curtis What have you noticed about the meetings you’ve attended with me?
Elaine Well don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you can be a bit too soft sometimes. I’m not sure you always spot that they’re ready to buy
Curtis Really? What do you notice that I don’t?
Elaine It’s often in the body language. I see them leaning forward and maintaining eye contact for longer. It also seems to me that their questions are about what happens when the package of support is drawing to a close. That has to be a buying signal.
Curtis You’re right Elaine and I think you might have a real talent for this.

Reality has been explored and it’s clear that the aim remains viable without the need for deep reflection.

Curtis So how will you play it this afternoon Elaine?
Elaine Well I could take our brochure, but I’m not sure he’s ready for all that detail. I was thinking that I’d have it with me but just get him talking about his business at first and look for signs that we can help. I also wondered about seeing if he’d like to help us trial the member’s area of the website.

We can leave them to it now and Elaine is clearly thinking well and generating her own options without too much prompting from Curtis. All that remains is to decide which options to choose as the way forward and for Elaine to give it her best shot at the client meeting.

Someone in Elaine’s position is a joy to coach as they are showing so much responsibility and initiative anyway, but we still need to make sure that everything has been thought through.

Curtis has shown good coaching skills in that he has not over-coached by asking Elaine too many questions, and he has not let his ego get in the way when she was explaining that she noticed him missing sales opportunities. As a businessman Curtis realises that Elaine has skills and assets that he can really benefit from if he cultivates them in the right way.