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Four Modes of Coaching Magic: Return and Reflect Mode

Return and Reflect is so incredible; I recommend we all engage in this process often. It is both the final mode in the Coaching Magic Matrix and the final step in the Thinking Advantage. We’ll explore this step in depth soon, but I’ll touch on it here as it relates to coaching. At first glance and at a meta level, there are really no major differences in this step in either of the algorithms. The main concept is to provide a space for the person you are coaching to reflect verbally on the experience that they just had. You simply say, “Hey, Kim, when you’ve done that (whatever solution it was that you co-created), let me know how it went.” However, there is one shift in mindset here and that’s when you are approaching this from a purely coaching role rather than from a manager role. We know that coaching can be used very effectively in the role of a manager. But the coaching role can also be very powerful when used with peers, vendors, third parties, contractors, clients and friends.

Pure coaching can be experienced even if the coach has no expertise in the issue or problem. And that’s part of the magic! The magic here in Return and Reflect Mode is that by offering the opportunity for the person you are coaching to reflect on their experience, they are doing all the work and learning as they talk. You simply ask the question and listen. It's almost as if you, the coach, are not really needed for this mode, except to receive the words they are saying. Psychologists call this being an “empathetic witness,” where the listener (or coach) simply listens without judgment and just repeats or summarizes for clarity. In a more lighthearted way, Michael Neill, the author of many books on coaching, refers to this as the “Lamppost Effect.” He states that in this mode of reflection, it’s as if the coach could be as inanimate as a lamppost and the client would still benefit from the session. 


If coaching is the number one skill for the 21st century, how can you dedicate yourself to mastering this skill with your direct reports and anyone else that you care to add energy to? What kind of company would you run if you used coaching to help people become their best? 


Now, more than ever, people are hungry for coaching. They need to get unstuck, they crave certainty in their next steps, and they need simplicity to engage their own thinking skills. What if you could be the thinking partner they’ve been needing? 


Let’s think about what we’ve learned about the four coaching modes.

  1. Of the four coaching modes, which one will be the hardest for you to try? Why?

  2. Which mode or modes are you the most confident about?

  3. Besides your boss, name some people who coach you.

  4. In which ways would you like your boss to coach you more effectively?

  5. Who on your team could benefit from being coached?

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