The Coaching Magic Matrix - Part II

Mar 10, 2022

In my last blog post, I introduced the Coaching Magic Matrix, which I designed after years of coaching (and being coached). If you follow the steps to identify your place in this Matrix and how you might improve (hint: the goal is The Coach Approach!), your coaching will become next level!

The way you are thinking tends to influence the way you act or what approach you take. We already learned about approaching interactions from either Short- or Long-term Thinking and Deficit or Possibility Thinking. Now that you can see how these two mindsets or spectrums of thinking are combined on the Coaching Magic Matrix, you see how the quadrants appear! Using this Matrix is not meant to put a forever label on someone, just to observe the world from a new or bigger perspective. Did you examine the Matrix and think about where you are?

The Professor Approach

When you have long-term thinking combined with deficit-based thinking, I call that the Professor Approach. You teach and teach and teach. You think your direct report just needs to know more, learn more, or give it more time. Your first thought in managing is that the person needs more training. You rely on your processes to get the work done. If it's in the process, people can’t make mistakes. If people follow the process, they’ll get results. You expect perfection, you think utopia is possible. You are frustrated by being the only one who knows things, but don’t really see a way out of it. You hope the training pays off someday and are constantly updating and creating more processes. You long for the day when you are not the only one people come to for answers. You usually have a long line at your “desk” of people asking for answers. In weak moments, sometimes people see you as a know-it-all. 

The Buddy Approach

When you have short-term thinking combined with deficit-based thinking, I call that the Buddy Approach. You really want your people to like you and to have a great time at work. Because of this, you offer to help with lots of projects, you have an open-door policy and often spend more time at work than others, trying to get all of your to-dos done. You are busy! You take pride in knowing that you are highly productive and get stuff done around here. You don’t want to push your people too hard; they might quit and it’s a pain to replace people, so you are willing to overlook mistakes or lack of effort. You take on extra work because you think you are the only one who can do it. It’s hard to think about the company without your involvement. The “buck” stops with you a lot. You take monkeys! (I’ll explain this later!) It just wouldn’t work otherwise. Sometimes you feel that your people take you for granted.

The Cheerleader Approach

When you have short-term combined with possibility-based thinking, you tend to take the Cheerleader Approach. People love to be around you because of your positive attitude. You are an encourager and a supporter. You are the one to pump people up, you give lots of praise and make things exciting. You know we can do anything we set our minds to! You are the Cheerleader! When things don’t live up to your expectations, you justify it, make excuses and ask people to try harder next time. Sometimes, issues are left unresolved; you hope they will just go away on their own. If you’re gone from the office too long, productivity goes up (and that’s weird to you), but morale starts to wane because you’ve created dependency on you for motivation.

The Coach Approach

When you have long-term thinking combined with possibility-based thinking, I call that the Coach Approach. You are you, just as comfortable sharing stories about your strengths and successes as you are about your weaknesses and failures. You are not the guru and rarely claim to have all the answers. Yet, people deeply value their conversations with you. When they leave the conversation, they feel both heard and motivated to act. You regularly have conversations that most people would call difficult, but you enter them and exit them with a humble confidence that you’ve built by being real with people. You are truly curious and care about getting to the heart of the issue and are patient in doing so. You value coaching because you, too, seek coaching from others. Many people you coach go on to coach others. 

For me, I was able to create a lot of success with the Cheerleader Approach. I distinctly remember driving to work each day in my twenties, when I was managing childcare centers. As soon as I’d get a few blocks from the center, a slight feeling of dread would begin to build in the pit of my stomach. I felt pressure to be positive, happy, and a light for the rest of the center, yet I knew there would be issues to solve once I arrived, because that’s just how the business was. It had humans in it and therefore, there were issues. At that time, I didn’t have an operating system, a leadership team or a coach, so the way I coped with that stress was to smile more and give my people whatever they asked for. It wasn’t until early into my coaching practice that I learned about healthy conflict, truly serving people instead of simply pleasing them and making decisions with the long-term, greater good of the company in mind. As I’ve grown and have had the chance to practice the art of coaching every day, I live more in the Coach Approach than I used to, but still observe myself in the other quadrants often. My goal is to get you living even just 1% more in the Coach quadrant, and for that . . . I have (yes, another) algorithm called Coaching Magic! We’ll talk about it next month!

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