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Four Modes of Coaching Magic: Co-Create Mod - Keep it Simple When Co-Creating Solutions

Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of why coaching works. It works because our world is very complex, and coaching helps simplify that world on an individual level. I’ve experienced that when I do very effective co-creating, it most often ends up looking like one of these four simple outcomes. 

  1. Having conversations: About 90% of the time, the simple solution is to have a conversation with someone. A few years ago, at the end of a busy, yet powerful day of coaching leaders from more than 10 companies in 10 different coaching sessions, my mind was exhausted, full and busy. When my mind gets this way, I often like to take a few minutes to put everything in perspective. It helps me slow things back down so I can ease into turning my mind off. On this particular day, I had a big a-ha moment as I reflected on the day. 100% of the solutions that I co-created with my clients resulted in them deciding to have conversations. One CEO decided that she needed to have a conversation with her Integrator. One sales manager decided that he needed to have a conversation with a client. And one leadership team member decided to have a conversation with a potential partner. Every one of the sessions that day resulted in the need for some kind of a conversation. This isn’t always the case, but after that day, I started to be more aware when this was the outcome and I was not surprised when this followed the Pareto principle: 80% of the time, having a conversation is the solution that gets clarity and is the simplest answer. That led me to using the phrase, “When in doubt, have a conversation.” What kind of conversation? A coaching conversation!

  2. Experimenting: Often, the outcome of effective co-creating is that the person I’m coaching decides to experiment with a solution. This involves trying something new: a new structure, new role, new metrics, new Meeting Pulse, new idea. One leader of several companies (with the same owner) had the idea that the companies could benefit from running as one entity. We co-created a solution: he was going to experiment with combined meetings to see if there was any benefit to solving issues together. His companies would try sharing a Scorecard, Rocks and to-dos. Instead of assuming there was a benefit, he was just going to experiment to see if it really did work better. 

  3. Changing the one big thing that fixes many little things: Often, after seeing the root cause of an issue, people tend to make big, systemic decisions. These cause big changes that affect many symptomatic issues for the better. Next, big leaps of inspiration and courage occur. Sometimes, decisions like this come from having not solved the issue at the root after several attempts. Sometimes, these come from a single event that highlighted the root cause. One afternoon, during a coaching call, the top leader of a 25-million-dollar construction company asked me a question: “Do I need to be at the Jill level of coaching to get this company to $65 million of revenue?” We had just finished an annual session where we had experienced a few key breakthroughs and he was attributing it to my coaching skills. He felt that until he could coach like I did, the company wouldn’t reach its goals. What I shared with him is that although I had led the coaching, it was the team that made the decisions. He was feeling ready for his next level, so I reflected to him what I observed during our annual session. I had seen him make bigger decisions than he had ever made before. Having a great coach certainly helps one have confidence in making big decisions, but it’s the decisions and actions that build the company, not the coaching. Then I asked, “What big decisions are you not making?” He didn’t even need to think about it, he knew exactly what additional big decisions needed to be made. Over the course of six months, this company made legal changes to their operating structure, shut down a department and made additional changes to the leadership team. These were big decisions that were holding the company back and automatically resolved many symptomatic issues, as well.

  4. Taking time to think: Occasionally, the outcome is that the person you are coaching gains clarity about what they need to think about. Next, they will benefit from some time thinking on their own. For example, one leader I coach recently decided that to solve his issue of needing more time, he needed to hire an assistant. His next step was to think about and write down what he’d like to delegate to that assistant before looking for that person. Had the action been to start looking before he really thought about what he wanted, he may have hired the wrong person. So, sometimes, coaching just focuses, re-focuses, and re-energizes someone to do more deep thinking on their own. Don’t discount this as an effective next step. 

With all of this momentum in the Co-creation Mode, it's easy for a novice coach to think that their job is done. You’ve observed, you’ve chosen your response, you’ve helped the person think about their thinking and you’ve co-created a solution together! The person you’ve coached is off and running, unstuck and feeling productive and moving towards the goal once again. But coaching people has one more step, and it’s a step that we rarely engage in, yet it has the most potential for ensuring that the learning sticks. This is when we add a simple phrase to the end of the coaching session such as, “Hey, Tonya, when you are done with that, come back and let me know how it went.” This is when you enter the fourth mode of the Coaching Magic Matrix. We’ll talk about that next time!

Here are some questions you can use to reflect about this topic.

  1. What are the differences between compromising and co-creating solutions? What elements are present when you observe co-creation? In comparison, what does compromising feel like?

  2. In what areas of your life are you a dictator? Name instances when you would rather just tell people what to do. How could you dictate just one percent less in these areas?

  3. Are there people who rely on you for co-creation? Are there people who rely on you to be a dictator? How could you enroll these people in better or more co-creation?

  4. On whom do you rely for co-creation? What do you appreciate about their approach?

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