Self reflection & Feedforward – Coaching tools to break free
In my journey as a Coach over the last few years, every experience is a new learning, and that is the fun part being able to do my little bit to help make life and work become so much more whole and complete for a variety of people across roles, levels, gender and age groups.
Every person one coaches is so unique and so diverse in their experiences, biases, insecurities, self limiting beliefs, past baggage etc. And their self awareness on their own strengths and development areas are often so limited and influenced by the constant feedbacks or criticisms they have got over time. .
My initial couple of Coaching engagements were focused more on the individual looking inwards and reflecting on what drives and motivates, what drains and demotivates, how they saw their strengths and development areas from their own eyes. And then as I evolved and used a sounding board, I incorporated the Feedforward process as an integral part of the Coaching process and got my coachees to get balanced feedbacks from a number of people who knew then well professionally and personally.
I have had some interesting case studies –
The initial reactions were amusing since couple of them were 50 plus leaders and felt it was too late to change, but knew they had to change and evolve to survive and grow. I gave my own example how I was happily changing and evolving at 50 plus after 3 decades as a Corporate leader and that seemed to put them at ease 🙂
Some said they do not know 6 – 8 people who really know them well enough ! But most finally did reach out to that many since I did not compromise … and they were happy they did. When it was explained how getting feedbacks from colleagues and friends might throw new light on how each one perceived them differently, it surely opened up their mind to new thoughts and even getting ready to face what could potentially be tough feedbacks and some pleasant surprises too
There were a couple of cases where the person being coached was very clear thatthe problem was more with “ them “ ( read management) and less with “me”( read Coachee).
As I patiently listened in during the first two session, delved deeper and let them open up and share more on themselves and their lives and their experiences and strengths and areas for change, it dawned on them that it was not all about management but about self reflecting deeper on how they were contributing to the problems at work and home with their hardwired responses and approaches.
When it was explained how a change of approach, or what is called “ rewiring of old habits “ can make such a huge difference with a newer way of doing old things there was a spark of interest.
When the feedbacks were compiled and shared with them as a feedforward, as an input given by their well meaning colleagues and friends to help them change, it was interesting to see their eyes light up and eyebrows go up. I found the level of curiosity interesting before the sharing. They suddenly realized others saw more strengths in them than they in themselves and that was such a huge aha moment for them.
The same leader who was raving and ranting in the first session about how he was getting a raw deal from “ them “management and how he was not being trusted and given importance was a transformed man at the end of this session when he realized “they” rated him much higher than he thought they did. How much he had burnt himself inside out feeling like a victim of injustice !!
The areas of development areas as shared by others seemed so much more palatable after that even if some were hard hitting and cut and dry on where he HAD to change. He sent me this short note after the session broadly capturing how his closed mind had opened up.
“ I would like to extend my gratitude for giving me Coaching for my very own betterment and allowing me to gauge myself. I am confident that after the completion of this Coaching I will definitely evolve as better human being and effective employee. As discussed during my Coaching session I am very open minded and just like white paper to grasp maximum.
I am sure it is my life changing experience and will try my level best to meet your expectation after the completion of this Coaching.”
And another one from a 50 + leader I spoke about.
“ Though initially I was apprehensive at the time of Introduction to Coaching, my Management’s faith in me dissolved all my inhibitions. Starting from Session 1, I have been able to delve deep and share all my experiences, fears and joy with my coach effortlessly. Personally, keeping in mind the 360 feed-back, I have strived to become more of an all rounder. I tried things which I would normally not bother about”
To me these like many of the other cases represents the power of transformation and the power of the Coaching process for leaders across all levels
And interestingly this can happen in around 4 sessions to start with, even for some battle hardened veterans who seem to know it all, and which include the self reflections, the feedbacks and identifying the most critical Goals ( areas of change ) for that leader.
The thought that often goes through my mind often is how 1: 1 Coaching as a customized leadership pipeline development tool can become more a way of life here in most organizations as more progressive leaders seize the moment and make this a critical add on personalized intervention in addition to the other workshops and trainings the leaders are often exposed to. And how we as Coaches with our own business and leadership and coaching experiences can play a more pivotal role in the process of developing the leaders for the future.
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