Leader as Coach: Coaching presence

coaching presenceOne of the things people often say as a result of coaching is that it’s the first time they feel they have been really heard, properly heard, fully humanly heard.

That’s because of the total coaching presence of the person alongside them.  Being 100% with the person, no distractions.  How often can you say that you do that as a leader?  Perhaps it’s time to learn to put aside other tasks, worries and concerns, so that your people really feel heard when you are in conversation with them.

Coaching presence is more than putting your phone away and shutting the door though.  It’s also about “dancing in the moment”, that is going where the thinker goes, following their agenda, flexing our support and challenge muscles depending on what they need in any given moment.

There’s an element of experimentation in coaching presence, that comes from not knowing.  I know that must sound odd, given that your role to date has been to be all-knowing.  But in coaching, we let go of that; it’s the thinker’s knowing that is all important here, not ours.

Coaching presence is also about using your intuition to say what you see; or paying attention to and offering an observation that is rising for you, but without being attached to it.  You can see how you need to be fully in the moment to be able to sense that intuition; and your intuition may or may not be right, so there’s that not knowing again.

Coaching presence allows you to notice things you wouldn’t otherwise notice.  Perhaps that’s the discrepancy between the thinker’s words and body language; or your intuition; or a recognition that their voice is suddenly shaking as they’ve hit on something that relates to their values.

That trembling voice might lead to tears or anger or some other emotion.  Coaching presence allows us to be with that emotion, rather than pushing through it or past it or ignoring it, so that the thinker can learn what is really important to them.  Coaching presence allows us to self-manage in that moment so that we don’t become overwhelmed, whilst at the same time not rescuing the thinker.

So next time you are in conversation with someone, see how it feels to be present with them; and experience how powerful that can be for the other person as they feel truly heard.