What questions have you been asking yourself as you build your success story? Perhaps, it is, “As HR Vice President, what does leadership development look like?” Or, “As a sales leader, how can I balance work and family? Or even possibly, “As a Church Plant Pastor, what do I need to do to grow my congregation?”
These are tough, yet realistic problems that we face as professionals, but I think we need to reframe the questions.
Any coach (whether formal or informal, external or internal, paid or volunteer, executive or life or organizational) must have the skill of listening then reframing questions. Reframing a question provides a different perspective on the issue at hand.
As a coach, it’s my job to reframe the question to help you get to the heart of the matter. Rather than asking about leadership development, I would challenge you to ask the real question, “What do I need to do to get promoted in my next role in the company?”
Or if you’re the sales leader, what I really hear you asking is, “If I sacrifice time with my family, will it be worth it financially?”
Or to the pastor, I would reframe the question as, “What should I be doing to grow my church? I am doing everything the books say, but it isn’t working!”
Please don’t misunderstand my point. I do think that people want to know how you approach things, how you set goals, how you solve problems, how you prioritize resources, how you assess risk. But, the answers they want will direct back at themselves.
Enter the world of what psychologists call self-efficacy.
Research On Self-Efficacy
Self-Efficacy is a fancy term for belief in yourself; confidence in the capabilities and talents you have been given and developed. Studies have shown that the confidence you have in your capabilities affects your performance and is linked to happiness, satisfaction, and well-being. All of these attributes in one way or another link to success.
Research published in the December 2016 issue of the Consulting Psychology Journal outlines that you can help those you coach be more successful by following three simple ideas:
Invest the Time: The confidence of the person increased as the coaching relationship evolved over time. As you coach others over the course of your conversation, notice how their confidence increases toward the coaching objective. When it does, make them aware that you are seeing this increase in confidence.
Say it Out Loud: The more the client verbally articulates their confidence, the higher the achievement to the goal actually becomes. “I am going to do this” type statements show confidence in the client's ability. The more they make commitments out loud, the increased likelihood of belief in themselves.
Ask the Right Question at the Right Time: In this study, questions asked by coaches fell into three categories:
Open-ended - “What do you want to do?"
Proposing Solutions - “You could search for other companies that offer better possibilities.”
Provide Support - “That sounds like a great idea."
The research points to proposing solutions as the only effective method in triggering self-efficacy statements in the very first coaching session. While the other two methods are also valid, they merely enhanced the confidence of the other person throughout the coaching engagement.
As you work with and coach others on your team, especially if you have more of a long-term relationship, focus on asking open-ended questions and providing support for the ideas they bring. Too many of us fall into the trap of proposing solutions because it makes us feel better about ourselves like we added real value. I would argue that the value you bring is the investment of time and belief in the person you are coaching. The research says that the value of you proposing solutions beyond early in a coaching relationship does little to improve the confidence or belief in the mind of the person you are working with.
How would your work environment change if you focused on building the confidence of others in your organization? When you are coaching others, resist the temptation to make the coaching about you by offering advice and providing them solutions. Really focus on practicing open-ended questions and providing your client the support they need.