From Coaxing to Coaching

This is the story of my coachee’s journey. And mine too.

The first step in this journey began some few months ago. I barged into a room full of executive-looking strangers from all genres (baby boomer to X Gen) seated in a tight circle. The International Coaching Federation Master Certified Coach, Julius Ordonez, greeted us warmly. For 4 days, we learned the basics of coaching…from structure and steps to style, from process to probing, from basics of coaching to becoming and BEING a professional coach. Being in the pharmaceutical industry for quite some time, I thought that asking the right questions, one of the basic skills in coaching, would just be a breeze.

But I was wrong.

For several days, I had to sweat out the technicalities of coaching questions. In several occasions, I found myself getting stalled in the process.I had to come to terms with one of my greatest weaknesses—SELF-CONTROL. I battled with the urge to deep-dive into my coachee’s concern and immerse in the trivialities and complexities of the issue but instead, maintained an objective, neutral stance.I had to painstakingly watch out for these coaching traps, while making sure I empty myself well enough to receive and allow myself to “be in the zone and dance in the moment”.

Then the rubber meets the road.

After the four-day, Phase 1 of the ACTP, we were ready for some action. We had to engage in a 3-month practicum—regular sessions of actual coaching plus mentoring support from the MCC in between. Since coaching requires that a certain process be followed and the right skills and tools be applied at the right moment, Master Certified Coach Julius personally had to make sure that we were doing it the right way. He supported us by giving one-on-one mentoring after reviewing each of our recorded coaching engagements. I appreciated this so much as this has given me the much-needed reinforcement as I engaged in the actual coaching.I appreciated the fact that I was given immediate and accurate feedback just so I could improve more on my next coaching engagement. This was Benchmark’s way of ensuring that the concepts we learned from Phase 1 were executed effectively. For this coaching practicum, I sought the approval of our head of sales and asked for a coachee-nominee. Being in training, it has been a part of my job to help out in training District Sales Managers in several areas of their competencies. However, I must admit, that this one is quite special, since I had to deal more and face the other aspects of their life as a line manager. So to speak, I have never gotten as close to any one of them especially in matters pertaining to their job.

***

I am a firm believer that nothing, absolutely nothing happens by accident. When the head of sales nominated my would-be coachee, I knew that there is a promising, albeit challenging journey that lay ahead. I was assigned a junior manager, a person plucked from the ranks and then promoted. She had to deal with fast-tracking her learning curve, high expectations of her boss, difficult subordinates and the pressure to deliver results.

And then, this coaching opportunity came.

I remember our first meeting. There was a certain look in her eyes that’s telling me that she needed help. I got myself oriented with the coachee—what’s going on with her professional and personal life—-her triumphs and adversities, goals and apprehensions. Her major concerns include mending a tarnished relationship with a poorly performing territory manager, earning the trust of her boss and gaining the credibility as a leader by hitting this year’s ambitious sales target. At a certain point during our conversation, she had burst into tears. She was a damsel in distress, striving to keep afloat in her new role.

My first coaching session was far from ideal. I sounded bookish, methodical, and straight from the manual. I struggled with the coaching process, overly conscious of the risk of committing a mistake.

One session after another, I found myself growing as a coach. As I grew in my coaching competencies, my coachee, too, began to inch closer to her goal. Her relationships with her subordinate and boss improved, her sales increased and her confidence became apparent.In the process, I too, gained confidence as a coach. But I knew that there is more to my being a coach in merely ensuring her professional goals are achieved…what matters most is what my coachee has become as a result of what she has done. A true coach is one who is not just after what his coachee is DOING, but more importantly, her BEING.

In my close-out session, I marvel at the new person sitting in front of me. Her aura reflected a new persona, a new self. My coachee exuded confidence—no proposals turned down, all subordinates hitting their sales target, and best of all, great possibility of ending the year successfully. Ours was a very interesting coaching journey. What first started as a performance coaching has evolved to become as life coaching. What was initially the concern of my coachee was how she will be able to achieve her professional goals, yet in the end, she has gained much more. I, too, was surprised with the unfolding of events leading to our last session. I smile as I remember how we first started, how we struggled and felt awkward in our own respective roles.During the last few minutes of our last session, my coachee thanked me and recognized the role I played in the achievement of her goal. She said that I was “God-sent”, and that my timing was perfect. It was as if, I was there in the right place, at the right time, at the perfect opportunity. After she said those words, it was my turn to thank her. In the process of helping my coachee, I, too, was helped. In the process of coaching her, I also had my own share of personal breakthroughs. I have come to terms with myself—unlearning other coaching models that were ineffective, shifting my mind-set from being “PROCESS-ORIENTED” TO “PURPOSE-ORIENTED“. As a trainer, I have always thought that people derive the most benefit out of me talking, but now I realize that as a coach, in my new-found skill, people will derive the most (and the best) when I start LISTENING. I realized that behind every employee’s performance is his BEING—the primary driving force. The coach is not a problem solver who claims to KNOW the solution; in fact, he benefits from not knowing exactly what will work. A coach is someone who is the process expert who partners with the coachee in journeying from realization to a firm resolution. Hand in hand, a coach moves his coachee from darkness to light, from confusion to enlightenment, from ambiguity to clarity and most importantly, from success to significance.

***

Three months have passed since I first embarked on this journey. I completed the required coaching and mentoring hours, hurdled the revalida and earned my coaching certificate. But there’s much more to these…I have come to know eleven wonderful people who shared this coaching journey with me. I have become not just a professional coach, but a better person—a better receiver, optimist and an improved listener— all these I was able to receive, thanks to this coaching program.

These are the fruits of this coaching journey: OPTIMISM, HUMILITY, ACCEPTANCE, and FORGIVENESS. I look forward to advancing some more, with great anticipation that I may be instrumental in bringing more people to enlightenment, success and significance.

I took off. I know that there will be some turbulence in the course of this journey, but this will only make me fly higher. My coaching journey has just begun, and I am ready to go places.