110: Coach the Person Not the Problem with Marcia Reynolds

I love solving people’s problems to make their lives easier, but as a manager, that may be counter-productive. Coaching a team member is more powerful when you help understand their thoughts and find their own solutions. This helps them solve their future challenges in addition to the current struggle.

Today’s guest is Dr. Marcia Reynolds. Marcia is a world-renowned expert on inspiring change through conversations, delivering programs and coaching leaders in 41 countries while reaching thousands online. She has four award-winning books including the one she just released Coach the Person, Not the Problem: A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry. Marcia is passionate about how coaching contributes to making our organizations and the world a better place for all.

Marcia and I talk about the difference between advising, questioning and true coaching. We get into the practicality of how to have a productive coaching conversation, and what happens when you actually help someone see their own thought patterns and choose to transform themselves.

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Read the related blog article: The Manager’s Job Is To Be The Coach, Not The Expert

Key Takeaways:

  • Coaching is being a thinking partner where you help someone take the stories out of their head so they can examine them.
  • Giving advice, or telling people how to fix their problems, isn’t as effective as when the person generates the solution for themselves.
  • When we aren’t bought into a solution, we don’t take action. Even if we agree with an idea, if it’s not our idea, we’re less likely to follow through on it.
  • Being a great coach isn’t about asking good questions. It’s about creating a safe space to reflect back what you’re hearing so the person can decide what it means to them.
  • Good coaches let go of their own expertise and judgement. They focus on being good listeners and summarizing what they hear, picking up on emotions and thought patterns.
  • Practice coaching with a buddy, friend, colleague or partner. Try coaching each other to get the benefit of experiencing reflexive inquiry as a coach and a coachee.
  • When someone shifts their internal stories, it has a profound impact in how they show up as a person.

Additional Resources:



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