I have seen this scenario play out tens of times in coaching: your company taps you as a future leader. It sends you for “leadership development,” which can last anywhere from a day to a week. You’re inspired by a lineup of speakers (like me), and afterwards, you’re required to critique the speakers and rate how effective they were. Sometimes you critique the hotel but hey who is critiquing you? Sometimes the closest you come to being critiqued is making a five minutes presentation in a staff meeting about this training you attended. Since you’re presenting to folks who never attended the training, it is business as usual and that is the end of the story.
As damn as that seems, most development programs are focused on the coach, not the learner. Sales programs focus on the salesperson and not the customer. Conferences are focused on the speaker and not the learner.
One of my start students in coaching is a gentleman named Chris (not real name) He is the most amazing student I have worked with. He always kept time for our meetings. He did whatever I asked him to do even when it was uncomfortable, if I asked him to read a page he would read an entire book. One time he came late for an assignment because he had been up all night reading the materials I had shared. One would think he is a desperate man but he is not. He is a Director at one of the government agencies, highly educated and principled. I have had amazing results with Chris yet I have spent the least time with him. When I asked him, “What should I learn from my experience with you?”
Chris quietly pondered my question. “As a coach,” he said, “you should realize that success with your clients isn’t about you. It’s about the people who choose to work with you.” He modestly chuckled, then continued. “In a way, I am the same. My success isn’t about me. It’s all about the great people who are working with me and my family.”
As the ancient proverb says, “The best leader, the people do not notice. When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ ” As a Coach, I am a facilitator.
I cannot make the successful people I work with change. I don’t try. Too many people think that a coach will solve their problems. That’s like thinking that you’ll get in shape by hiring the world’s best trainer and not by working out yourself. Let me coach you as you do the work. Take responsibility for your growth.