, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, recently wrote about what it really takes to be an effective coach for the New Yorker.
He found through his own experience and coaching experts that it’s a lot more complicated than it seems to facilitate good coaching.
Humans naturally resist being critiqued, so it takes some effort to break that barrier. Also, many professions refuse to change the status quo to integrate coaching as common practice.
Gawande talked to Jim Knight, the director of the Kansas Coaching Project at the University of Kansas about coaching, and got an insightful anecdote. Knight analysed a pair of teachers, John Hobson and Diane Harding, as they coached a third teacher. From the New Yorker:
For half an hour, they worked through the fine points of the observation and formulated plans for what she could practice next. Critzer sat at a short end of the table chatting, the coaches at the long end beside her, Harding leaning toward her on an elbow, Hobson fingering his beard. They looked like three colleagues on a lunch break — which, Knight later explained, was part of what made the two coaches effective.
He had seen enough coaching to break even their performance down into its components. Good coaches, he said, speak with credibility, make a personal connection, and focus little on themselves. Hobson and Harding “listened more than they talked,” Knight said. “They were one hundred per cent present in the conversation.” They also parcelled out their observations carefully. “It’s not a normal way of communicating — watching what your words are doing,” he said. They had discomfiting information to convey, and they did it directly but respectfully.
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