Leader as Coach: Creating Awareness

creating awarenessCreating awareness comes bit by bit, and then all at once.  Slowly, slowly, we (the leader as coach) help the other person to get clear on what they want to figure out;  we ask questions that get them to a place of new knowing; we listen in a way that allows us to play back their thoughts and feelings so they really hear their own new thinking; and communicate directly (and with permission) what we see and sense, so that they receive new insights into who and how they are.

You’ll notice that creating awareness is about creating new thinking, new perspectives, new insights.  Or at least, thinking that has been buried or was disconnected.  Having them talk about what they already know does not constitute coaching, and telling you the whole story does not generally get them to a place of new knowing.

Each piece of new thinking, or new connections builds on the last.   Creating awareness.

All of a sudden, and often when we least expect it, the aha moment emerges.  Creating awareness.

This is their aha moment, not ours; their new thinking; their new insight; their new awareness.  Creating awareness is NOT about telling them how we see the situation, nor giving them our solution.

This exploration phase makes the action planning phase so much more obvious to them – and quick.  The actions are generally clearer and certainly more targeted to solving the real underlying problem, not the surface issue.  And these are their actions that they will take ownership of, because they came to the awareness themselves.

This awareness can surface in a matter of minutes, or it may take a little longer.  But don’t assume that it needs to take hours of coaching.  I witnessed a great example of awareness creation in a 15 minute coaching session yesterday, and the person went away with such conviction that she now knew what to do, it felt like some magic had just happened.  But it wasn’t magic.  It was the coach’s full attention, her contracting, her powerful questions/silence, great listening, and some direct communication; along with a willingness to think afresh from the person looking to resolve her issue.  That’s what creating awareness looks like.

What have you noticed about what leads to aha moments?


To read all the previous posts in this series, take a look below:

Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards

Establishing the coaching agreement

Establishing trust and intimacy

Coaching presence

Active Listening

Powerful Questioning

Direct Communication