There is no dearth of textbooks and guides for learner-coach approaches in the market. Most of these books deal with the golden rules of coaching extensively. However, there are only a few books that are certain to teach the transformative communication processes which are crucial in the coaching process. Books that address coaching as a co-active process that gives equal prominence to coach and the client are rare. For the same reason, the book Co-Active Coaching – Changing Business, Transforming Lives is a gem among books dedicated to the coaching process.
Authored by the founders of The Coaching Training Institute, K. Kinsey-House, P. Sandahl and L. Whitworth, the book focuses on building an active collaboration between the coach and the individual. The experience of the authors, who are themselves coaching veterans, reflects in each of the principles discussed in the book. It is enriched with thoughtful exercises, pragmatic advice, and relevant examples outlining the skills that coaches need to equip with. It is a very useful guide for anyone who wants to start a career as a coach and help others transform their lives.
The cornerstones of co-active coaching.
“People are naturally creative, resourceful and whole.” This is a major takeaway from the book and one of the recurrent themes found throughout. Coaches should not regard clients as unmotivated, incompetent, untalented or unenthusiastic. They need to acknowledge the client’s strengths and capabilities.
In the book, it is well-explained why coaches need to focus on the whole person constituting mind, body, heart, and spirit. It stresses the importance of being fully present at the moment rather than the past or future. Another cornerstone in the book deals with evoking transformation and how to inspire clients to learn.
Core principles of co-active coaching.
There are three core principles for motivating the client, as discussed in the Co-active Coaching. They are Fulfillment, Balance and Process. Fulfillment refers to the concept of clients intentionally choosing to honor their values, express what they are and experience a life of purpose and meaning. Balance means making choices aligned with a compelling visual experience of flow, possibility, choice, and freedom. The process includes fully experiencing repressed emotion at a particular moment.
For example, the client needs to name the emotion, invite exploration, ask permission and accept the feeling which is a multi-step process. While assisting, the coach can use physical cues or metaphor to help the clients explore the emotion. When the unblocked emotion is transformed into energy in motion the learning occurs.
Becoming a ‘change agent’
Co-active coaching has little to do with problem-solving but largely focuses on discovery and development. It is about establishing a collaborative relationship with the clients and empowering them to find their own answers. The coach is someone who encourages and supports the clients to make choices that comply with their personal values.
According to the authors of Co-active Coaching, the coach is a ‘change agent’ that helps clients make changes in life and become better, happier human beings. Improvement in the work performance is considered as an outcome only and not the core agenda of the coaching process. The coach needs to trust the client’s capacity and integrity and honor confidentiality. It takes the reader through various aspects of building truly empowering coach-client relationships with the help of relevant examples.
The book articulates that it is the coaching relationship that empowers the client, and not the coach. The coach needs to build a rapport and develop different levels of listening ability. Listening is a critical skill for any coach. One can find references to the different levels of listening and the value and efficacy of each level in the book. The power of good listening is also highlighted with the help of relevant examples.
The positive nature of coaching is given much significance throughout the book. Through the lens of positivity, the author advocates focusing on the inherent goodness of the client, the building of trust and the importance of effective goal-setting during the coaching process. Various coaching techniques – such as ‘Wheel of Life’, ‘Dancing in the Moment’, and ‘Championing the Client’ – are explained in detail in the book.
Essential elements of coaching
The book focuses on the role of intuition and curiosity and the importance of bringing a change in the client’s life ahead. Asking curiosity questions is a critical aspect as it positively influences the client’s self-discovery and decision-making abilities. Curiosity, means simple looking, without attachment or assumptions, and encourages open, inviting, spacious and almost playful exploration. Rather than relying on the author’s assertions the client is motivated to look for their own answers. The coaching conversations need to be focused, concentrated, safe, and comfortable. Sometimes there needs to be courageous, intentional conversations that are specifically designed to support the client.
In a nutshell, the coach needs to assist the client to recognize their own way ahead and understand what stirs them and what stops them, which is the essence of coaching. Thus, the book takes the reader through the five essential elements of the coaching – Listening, Intuition, Curiosity, Forward Action and Deepen Learning and Self-Management.
Since the first edition of Co-Active Coaching, it has been widely used as a definitive resource for coaching and professional development, and acclaimed as an invaluable source book for budding coaches. The third edition of the classic work is on stands now. The third edition further explores the possibilities of the co-active model of coaching. The book is clearly structured and easy to read. It is very informative and works as reliable resource material for anyone whose aim is to become a transformational coach.
On a concluding note, the book is ideal for coaching enthusiasts who are looking for a comprehensive overview of coaching. It is loaded with the tools, skills, and fundamentals that are much required to become successful as a coach. It is a priceless resource that explains the meaning of coaching, teaches relevant models and techniques that derive the desired outcomes and enrich your information on various themes inherent to coaching.