It happened again last week. I answered The Quality Coach!® phone and a "little old lady" wanted to know if we could pick her up and take her grocery shopping. I attempted to explain to her that we were business coaches and not a taxi service. She was sure I was wrong. And, by the time I got off the phone with her, I began to wonder.
During the early days of The Quality Coach, there was no such thing as a business coaching profession. We were coaching before coaching was cool. We spent a lot of time educating people about the kind of coaching we offered and how it could help their business and professional performance.
I would be so excited when the phone rang. Upon answering in my most professional voice, I would often learn that the caller wanted to arrange a trip to Branson or Atlantic City. We were frequently mistaken for a Motor Coach company.
This kind of thing happened so often that I began to fanaticize about buying a little hippy bus, painting flowers on it, and driving retired hippies to fun destinations all over the country.
And then there were the calls in search of the upscale line of handbags we surely carry. So, of course, I had to go get a Coach bag to see what all the fuss was about.
Seriously, how could this be so confusing? I was at a loss. Sports teams have coaches. Professional performers have coaches. Did it not make sense for business teams and business professionals to have coaches? Someone from the outside who had played the game. Someone who could be trusted to really listen, keep issues and concerns confidential, be a sounding board, ask a few good questions, teach a new technique, or offer a recommendation to get things back on track.
What was I missing? Thinking that we needed to change our trademarked name, I became desperate. So desperate that I looked in the dictionary. And, here's what I found:
"A coach is a vehicle to bring a person of value from where they are to where they want to be." The Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary
Well, wasn't that who we were? Did we not help people of value transcend obstacles and barriers, real and imagined, to move from where they were to where they wanted to be?
Fast forward a couple of decades. Coaching has apparently caught on. There is a coach for darned near everything. There is probably even an app for that. And yet, coaching is still the least used of all leadership styles. Using a coach approach in the workplace makes great business sense. Why?
- Coaches develop the capacity of an organization by intentionally and innovatively helping employees increase their capability.
- Coaches create a continuous learning environment by using situations and circumstances to teach real time lessons. They seize and leverage those teachable moments.
- Coaches communicate a belief in people's potential and an expectation that they will do their best.
- Coaches can spot talent, and often see the potential in people before anyone else can identify it, including the person themselves.
- Coaches help people identify and develop their unique strengths.
- Coaches encourage the development of longer term goals and aspirations.
- Coaches are good at delegating and giving employees stretch goals, not just tasks.
- Coaches engage people to continuously learn, grow and contribute at ever increasing levels of value.
- Coaches use great questions and other coaching tools to develop individuals and teams.
- Coaches are hooked on personal growth themselves, and love to be coached.
I like to think that coaching is indeed a vehicle to take people of value from where they are to where they want to be. Yep. We'll be keeping our name. Taxi, anyone?