“Be of service” they said…

I’ve been thinking about what it means to serve, lately… 

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Having recently spent a week abroad within a cultural context where “coaching” is seen as a “tell me what to do” kind of thing, rather than entering a partnership aimed at facilitating someone’s thinking and learning…

I was reminded that most people expect their coach to deliver a service when they “hire” them. I put hire in quotation marks here, because most coaches I like will tell you that they’re not “for hire”. Instead they “partner” with their clients.

Even the word “client” has been challenged during a recent episode of Coaching Uncaged when Peter Hawkins told me that the word implies that the coach servesthe client, but in a “service provider” kind of way. This sets a particular expectation, in that the coach would provide the value by delivering their work.

This creates a kind of dynamic in the coaching relationship that really isn’t conducive to effective coaching, which works best when coach and coachee meet each other at eye level, where neither coach nor the coaching partner has the answer, but both are committed to the journey of creating (or discovering) one.

In another, not-yet-published episode (watch this space), Master Mentor-Coach & author Clare Norman got into quite the rant about this, which really made me feel rather grateful that I haven’t spent my best days working in and for organisations, which are the prime source for creating the “service narrative”, according to Clare’s latest book.

It did make me wonder about how Steve Chandler (of The Prosperous Coach fame) and his many passionate disciples drive home the point that we have to adopt a “service mentality” if we want to build a successful coaching practice. And the way I made sense of this today is that different people have quite different ideas about what it means to be of service.

For me, a thinking partnership, at eye level, where I don’t need to bring the answers, but instead hold space and offer my professional companionship on a journey of discovery – present and patient – that’s of invaluable service.

Have a think about the extent to which you (whether you’re a coach or provide any other kind of service in this world) and your “service receiver” are clear on what the dynamics are in your relationship, and what you both expect from each other within this relationship.

As long as you both agree on the terms, it’ll be a fruitful endeavour in my experience.

Yet, so often we don’t talk about the terms of our interaction…

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A good few months ago I was invited to contribute an article to the upcoming issue of Coaching Perspectives, the journal of the Association for Coaching, one of the major professional bodies in our industry, which is distributed to more than 10.000 coaches worldwide. I decided to write something light, yet meaningful, and to explore different ways in which we may work integratively in coaching. The good people at the AC curate this publication with love and care, and joining the AC as a member gives you access to all issues, so it’s worth exploring if you’re a coach. But see for yourself! I’m on page 30 if you wanted to skip the many other worthwhile contributions.

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And that’s it!

As always, if any of this resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

With Love

Yannick