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David Matthew Prior @dmprior

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Coaching Up

Myth, Dream or Destiny?

Over the past 5 years, I have delivered scores of week-long offsite training sessions in multiple countries at the 'manager of others' level. During the course, we spend one day focused on coaching – what it is, what it’s not; when to coach and when not to; how to and how not to. Of all the sessions offered during the week, coaching has consistently been the highest-rated by all of the participants. I don’t sell coaching to them; the coaching experience sells itself.

Over time, I have carefully watched the quality of relationship connection that evolves when these managers, many never having met each other before, coach one another. They genuinely and generously listen with respect while partnering to find an optimized solution for a real-time organizational or business problem, challenge or opportunity.

At the end of the week, the managers look at me with mixed jubilation in their eyes as they ask: “David, I really like coaching, and I could see using it with my direct reports and even practicing it with my peer group, but the person who really needs coaching the most is my boss. How do I coach up?”

There’s nothing like a powerful question to get us started.

Please drop in and tell your story – share your experience, perspective, hypothesis, teaching or wisdom about Coaching Up.

Posted by David Matthew Prior on 9 November 2012

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  • "Coaching Up" is an interesting challenge. In my experience, there are a couple of opportunities where I think you can be effective with coaching your boss. The first is to realize that "its lonely at the top". I have found that many bosses only have one or two direct reports who they feel are comfortable (brave?) enough to tell them the truth and have the integrity to not try to do it in such a way as to promote their own agenda.
    If you can establish a trusting relationship with your boss and wait for the "coachable moments", you can make a significant contribution to helping them think through some difficult actions or solve some tough issues.
    I had one boss who was very consistent and predictable with his body language when he was frustrated. He would burst into my office and pace while he vented. I would just listen and make sure that I understood what was really bugging him. However, when he wanted to discuss something and wanted coaching, he always sat down and put his feet on a air / heating unit. We had many great sessions that way and built a strong rapport because I asked tough questions and gave objective points of view that others wouldn't give him and he appreciated that.

    Posted by Greg Burns, 16/05/2013 5:20pm (5 years ago)

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