So, what is a business coach? In my eyes, a business coach is someone who helps people within their organisation perform better. They have the genuine interest to help others (at all levels) grow and develop in a way that suits their own personal goals and those of the business.
Anyone can find themselves in the position of a business coach in a formal situation, such as supporting a senior leader, or more informally with a colleague or peer. I believe that the three key steps to achieve excellent outcomes for anyone, at any level of the organisation are the same:
1. Connect purpose and performance
2. Focus on the future first
3. Cultivate ownership and gain commitment to actions
1. Connect purpose (heart) and performance (mind) to truly understand what motivates someone at a deep level.
What is purpose?
What emotionally drives an individual is their purpose in life. This is the limbic brain in action - the part of the brain that conducts automatic thought processes like memory, senses, and feelings and is responsible for influencing behaviour.
What is performance?
Performance is the conscious motivators, goals and aspirations of an individual. What do they consciously want to achieve into the future? By understanding both the purpose and performance goals of an individual you are connecting their heart and mind.
Connecting purpose and performance
Typically, as humans we do not take the time to connect the two. Have you ever felt like you are going through the motions, walking through life in a state of fog and confusion? Getting sidetracked from living your purpose, and hindering your performance in life?
I myself have been there and I help people every week of my life at all levels of an organisation who have found themselves in this place. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is so easy to slip into this place. Life's pressures and pace are constantly working to push us into this place of disconnection and uncertainty. Future articles will cover the concept of mindfulness which is highly useful for keeping yourself more balanced.
Coaching someone effectively relies upon nurturing their ability to self-analyse, and to help them connect what emotionally drives them to what their goals and aspirations are. You are helping them develop deeper self-awareness, which will ultimately motivate and focus them on improving in the right direction.
The results of seeing someone achieve this place of living purpose and performance is amazing. The payoff helps their home life as much as it helps their work life. The result is happiness and I don’t think there is anything more important in our world today than more people experiencing happiness and contentment.
How do you uncover what an individual is feeling about their life's purpose?
There are many techniques you can choose from, but I find the simplest approach is root cause thinking.
1. Ask the person what is it that they want to achieve either for customers, their team or themselves.
2. Then continue to ask why to each question they provide you until you stretch the responses as far as you can go.
The purpose or motivating factor/s for an individual will sit further down the list of answers they provide. They will find their purpose at the 3rd, 4th or 5th response. As a business coach, it is important to keep the coachee exploring the deeper 'why' answers as many times as possible.
Here's an example of finding purpose using root cause. I am the subject!
This is the "Brad Jeavons purpose exploration". What is my goal in life? To be a successful author, consultant and father. Why do I want to achieve this? To guarantee income, raise my children well, and to help people improve to help others and the planet.
When I ask 'why' to these, I delve another level deeper, and when I ask 'why' again, I find my true purpose: I want quality of life for future generations and the planet as a whole.
Steve Irwin motivates me. I teared up in the interview he did on "Enough Rope" with Andrew Denton. Why? My purpose aligns with his. I am not Steve Irwin. I don’t have his knowledge and giftedness with the natural world, but I have other skills and capabilities I can use to live my purpose. I can write (with my wife’s help). I am an enthusiastic learner and pride myself on having a high level of knowledge. I am a people person and have skills in facilitation and coaching to help others grow.
This is where performance then comes in.
How do you help an individual set performance related goals and measures that are achievable considering their unique skills and capabilities?
Performance aspects or goals for an individual are a lot easier to uncover; they are the conscious thoughts that an individual is often thinking and stressing about. They are dependent on the unique skills and capabilities an individual has to live their purpose.
The best way to encourage someone to consider performance aspects is to have them describe a vision for their future that aligns with their current skills and skills they could build. What would this world look like for them if they had achieved their goals? Ask the individual to paint a picture for you verbally or visually (painting or drawing) of their ultimate future.
Finally, encourage the individual to find the connectedness between their purpose and future performance aspirations. If you can easily find the correlation you have a winning formula to help the individual move forward. If you can’t find connectedness, you need to ask 'why' multiple times to uncover the deeper reason for the disconnect. Root cause will help you and the coachee understand the outside forces that are causing the disconnect.
Helping people understand their purpose and performance aspirations and connecting the two provides a formula for success. You are helping the individual break out of the fog and gain clarity of what is truly important, aligning their heart and mind and move forward with abundance. You are helping them build motivation, comfort and fulfilment. You will be able to identify the win-win outcomes that can be achieved for the individual and the organisation they work for.
2. Focus on the future first - what is going to be the individuals plan to move forwards?
The next phase of business coaching is to help the individual set a futuristic direction and create an individual plan to strive towards. To begin, start with discovering the individual’s short-term goals for 1 month, 1 quarter and 1 year. Starting with the future in mind builds positive energy as future goals are positive and life affirming.
Keep their unique purpose and performance aspirations front of mind as you ask, 'What is your short-term goal or objective now to move forward?" Once you have clarified this you can then bring them back to the present asking, 'What is currently happening?", followed by "Why is this currently happening?" This is important, as the individual will need to explore any elements impacting them moving forward. Again, root cause thinking can help build a deeper understanding of any identified challenges and develop the right steps in overcoming them.
Finally ask, "How are you going to bridge the gap between your short-term goals and the current situation we have explored?" Design thinking is powerful in this process. Design thinking is simply asking 'what else?' as many times as possible to get every option out on the table. You can then go through a process of prioritising the options to find the best few. I find the criteria of how easy or hard will it be to achieve, coupled with what value will it provide in achieving my goal a great dual approach.
This process will feel awkward the first time you use it. Remember that, as always, practice makes perfect.
I would like to give an example here, with one of my colleagues, Dan Pirrone. Dan took a leap of faith to ask me for help early in his sales career. Dan has always been a purposeful individual focused on growth and achieving goals. I knew Dan’s purpose (to help people) and knew his short-term performance goals which revolved around being successful in his current sales role.
To help Dan I went out on the road with him, conducting sales calls together with customers. Before each meeting, I would ask Dan, "What is your goal for this account?" Dan would think deeply and explain his goals. I then asked him, "Where are you currently at? What challenges are you facing?" We would explore each challenge using root cause to understand them deeply.
I would then ask Dan, "What options/choices do you have to move forwards with this account?" Dan would list these out. I would push on this point, asking Dan "What other options do you have?" Once we had a good list to explore Dan would prioritise the list (noted down in a notebook). This process allowed us to develop key actions that Dan would use to live his purpose and achieve in each sales meeting.
Business coaching can be conducted at a micro or macro level. It can be used for the smallest situation or to help with the largest strategic goal.
3. Cultivate ownership and gain commitment to actions
The final step is to cultivate ownership and gain commitment to actions. It is imperative that the coachee is actively involved in this step. They need to devise their own actions, commit to time frames in achieving these, and agree to review, feedback and reflection sessions to ensure they keep on track.
As a business coach, this is where your role will shift from exploration facilitator to one of support, helping with review and reflection sessions to keep the individual on track, helping them overcome challenges and making adjustments to the actions as required. The review and adjustment approach will form the basis of future coaching sessions until the short-term goals are achieved.
With Dan, after each sales call, I initiated a review and reflection conversation. We also had a formal 1 hour session together each month where would could elevate our view. We could dedicate this session to discussing Dan's purpose and performance aspirations as a whole,
rather than individual customers.
The frequency of review and reflection is not set in stone, and is dependent on the needs of the individual. My advice is to empower them to define the frequency and then review and reflect on how everything is progressing as time goes by. If actions and commitments are not being achieved and the individual feels as if they are not progressing, conduct a more formal review and adjust the approach.
Help and reward in return
Business coaching is a rewarding role to play. You are truly helping an individual to align their heart and mind, developing a purpose and living their life to the fullest.
I have helped many people and organisations throughout my career find and live their unique purpose and elevate performance. It is a selfless act coming from a place of abundance, and can often lead to reward in return.
The initial reward is seeing others find happiness, fulfilment and achieve their goals. Really, this is the main reason that I enjoy to help others. I love to see others grow and reach their potential.
A second bonus reward comes through the strong connections and networks that you form for your own future. Dan Pirrone is someone who I have coached, and who has helped me in return. He has helped me find my purpose in writing books to share knowledge and now running events and webinars to share more broadly. Dan recently wrote a great blog on an event that we ran together on the topic of 'Selling Remotely with Agile Sales'. He covered the key ideas neatly and succinctly, is well worth checking out. I will provide the link below so that you can read it.
Thanks for your time.