The Coaching Mindset

What is a Coaching Mindset?

As coaches, we’re told that it’s important to have a coaching mindset. Being able to demonstrate this thought pattern is often a requirement of coaching certifications and is something we look for when reviewing applications for the Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach (CTC) and Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) certifications. As such, this is a main focus of our mentoring program here at Superheroes Academy. Now, the question remains, what does it mean to have a coaching mindset? Let’s explore this question together.

Characteristics of a Coaching Mindset

When it comes to developing a coaching mindset we often think about what we do as coaches. This includes listening, asking powerful questions, holding space and facilitating structured conversations. While doing is important, these are techniques we use in our coaching and are not who we are as coaches. Our mindset becomes visible in what we do and how we approach coaching situations, however, our mindset exists more in who we are as coaches.

Who Are You as a Coach?

Although all coaches are different and have a different style and approach to coaching, there are some character traits and attributes that good coaches have in common. Good coaches are:

  • Emotionally Intelligent
    • Popularized by Daniel Goleman in his book, “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ”, emotional intelligence (or EQ) involves growing oneself in four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. This journey starts with self-awareness as an individual becomes more able to know and understand their thoughts before they act. Emotionally intelligent coaches possess a greater degree of empathy towards others, including their clients.
  • Present
  • Curious
    • My favorite book when I was young was “Curious George” by H. A. Rey. Each story in the series started with the statement that, “This is George. He was a good little monkey and always very curious.” Good coaches possess a genuine curiosity and desire for continuous learning.
  • Courageous
    • As people, coaches are not free from fear and doubt, however we overcome this for our client’s sake. As Nelson Mandela put it, “…courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
  • Neutral
    • Maintaining a neutral stance is a key to the coaching relationship. Our role is not to judge, but rather to work with the client to discover new possibilities and help them reach their full potential.
  • Accountable
    • Good coaches hold their clients accountable for the plans and decisions they make. Coaches also maintain their own accountability for the process of coaching and upholding many of the mindsets discussed above.
  • Action-oriented
    • In the recent book, “The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth” one of the main attributes described by Chris Zook and James Allen as critical for success is having a “bias toward action.” Coaches should have this disposition too. Coaching conversations are not meandering Sunday drives in the wilderness, but rather a trip intentionally guided towards a destination, which leads to focused action on behalf of the client.
  • Sold on their client’s abilities
    • Our belief as coaches is that our clients have all they need to succeed – they just may not realize this yet. Coaches help their clients discover what they already know and have a firm belief in their ability to reach their potential, even when the client waivers. As a coach, “my certainty is greater than your doubt.” – Susan Johnston (Coach Skills for the Agile Workplace training course, Calgary March 2016).

Who are you as a coach? Which parts of the coaching mindset resonate with you the most? Leave your comments below.