The Confident Coach 3: Levels of Listening

This is the third in a series of five articles about The Confident Coach. I thought it would be interesting to discover the factors new coaches starting out on their coaching journey report they are confident about; and how this is a predictor of their ultimate success. To do this we must track their progress over the first 18 weeks of the Coaching Master Class programme. Here’s how the programme works. After the initial training I run three coach-the-coach sessions at six week intervals. Session one focusses on the new coach’s confidence in the five key elements of the training. Session two on the business results being achieved with coaching. And session three to assess coaching capability. A couple of years ago I ran a worldwide Coaching Master Class programme for 100 top leaders. I’ve looked at my notes from coach-the-coach follow up sessions with the top 20 from this group to see what makes them ‘Confident Coaches’.

In the Coaching Master Class training I teach that asking good purposeful questions can only be effective if you couple it with good listening. As you move into the heart of the coaching session (GROW) you need to raise your listening from the more casual day-to-day style of listening to another level. You need to consciously throw a switch in your mind and become aware of not only what your Coachee is saying, but also the emotion and meaning behind their words. You will need to maintain this elevated conscious state throughout the session. I cover two raised levels of listening: Active Listening and Deep Listening. See ‘Further Reading’ below.

Here is a selection of comments made by leaders during my coach-the-coach follow up sessions. They were all confident about their approach as coaches. What are the key factors for success being described here?

“I let the coachee talk openly and indeed use silence to let them come with their ideas, problems and suggestions”.

“I discussed the structure and objective first use deep listening and got myself disciplined not to be interrupting”.

“I pay attention to how they feel and what they struggle with”.

“I kept silent to encourage a tight speaker. As the conversation got off course, we started more of a back and forth more easily”.

“I was focusing a lot on listening as this is not my strongest side”.

“Since this was a sensitive topic to the coachee, I made sure I was actively listening and getting his feelings and opinions about the issue so he himself could feel comfortable discussing a ‘self-confidence topic’ with me”.

“I listened more to him and got a deeper insight in his opinions”.

“I listened to her issue – sensitive issue and courageous action to come to her leader’s leader. I listened, asked open ended questions to try and ‘peel the onion’ to get to root causes”.

“The sensitivity of session required careful handling – deep listening coupled with probing questions with empathy and sensitivity”.

“I would normally jump into giving solutions, but the fact that I took the time to listen first and then we agreed what we wanted to achieve”.

“Throughout R and O I made sure that I was listening with intent. Being vey objective and ensuring that I clarified anything that seemed unclear”.

“My listening and especially my observation was done well. His body language showed that he had not taken the task seriously and was talking around the task”.

“During the whole session, I used deep listening quite often to fully understanding the problem”.

“I listened carefully and took a note when the coachee was describing previous review meetings, expressing his opinions and feelings”.

“I paid attention to how they feel and what they struggle with”.

“I thought it was a good effort in terms of listening, gaining coachee’s perspective, obtaining insights that I hadn’t before and being a platform for voice of opinion (how he felt)”.

“Deep listening. Difficult part for me! I have been used to talking a lot more so that’s almost what my direct reports expect from me – so my Coachee felt that I was almost too quiet!!”

 

Further Reading:

Levels of Listening

The Confident Coach 2: Purposeful Questions

The Confident Coach 1: The GROW Coaching Model

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