By Ganesh Chella
Coaches are human beings – they did not descent from heaven. Coaches also play several roles in addition to being Coaches – they are spouses, parents, children, colleagues, managers, leaders, Board members and citizens in this society.
Their training to become a coach as well as their professional demands of being a coach or coaching oriented leads them to show respect, listen empathetically, respond with understanding, refrain from giving advice and display humility. By and large, when well trained coaches are “playing the role” as coaches or coaching oriented leaders and managers they manage to uphold these values and demonstrate these skills. Otherwise, they may not be in business.
The question is – how are they when they are not “playing the role”.
Let me explain this with a personal example. There are times when I am not fully present or listening attentively when my wife is speaking to me. Sometimes she lets it pass because she realises I am preoccupied and at other times she reminds me that I am a Coach, albeit jokingly. Similarly, my executive responsibility sometimes requires me to give instructions and not remain tentative.
I say this to emphasise that it may not be possible or even necessary for a coach to behave in a coach-like manner at all times.
Having said that, it might be very important for a coach to lead a congruent life. In other words, the manner in which a coach conducts himself or herself “in the role” cannot be incongruent with or contrary to the way he or she plays other roles or lives his or her normal life. So, what are the areas where congruence is an absolute necessity?
1. Whether one is coaching or not, one needs to demonstrate respect. This will include the way one treats others, the language one uses, the regard that one shows and the extent to which one makes others comfortable in one’s presence. Incongruence in this area is unacceptable.
2. Suspending judgement and being more accepting of others is critical even when a coach is not coaching. The ability and willingness to suspend judgement and be more open is crucial. Incongruence in this area is also unacceptable.