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Coaching: Helping Team Members to Get the Best Out of Themselves

I like to think that the same holds true for tennis strokes: that the perfect strokes are already within us waiting to be discovered, and that the role of the pro is to give a nudging encouragement. One reason I like to think this is that when my students think of strokes as being discovered rather than manufactured, they seem to learn the game much faster and without frustration.
— (W Timothy Gallwey)

Learning is not compulsory. Nor is survival.
— (W Edwards Deming)

I am sometimes told that professionals do not need to be coached. They are intelligent, well-educated and motivated individuals who can be relied upon to be outstanding performers. I suspect that this sentiment is wrong for a number of reasons. In the majority of cases professionals are indeed knowledgeable, skilful and enthusiastic about their work. Like talented sports players, however, they are more likely to build on their strengths, fulfil their potentiality and accomplish outstanding results if an effective coach supports them. The second reason is that performance is sometimes not up to scratch. An individual may lack a critical skill, have an undesirable approach to work or colleagues, lack confidence or be unwilling, for the time being, to put enough effort into the job. An effective coach can play a useful part in helping to overcome these difficulties. The third reason why coaching is important is that we live in a fast-changing world. Professionals are just as exposed as everyone else to new competitive threats, developments in information technology, changes in client attitudes and behaviour and new economic and political influences. Good coaches help to give people the confidence to cope with our ever-changing business and professional environment. Lastly, coaching can play a useful part in helping younger people to think through their longer-term career aspirations. Most of us find it beneficial to use an experienced and respected colleague as a sounding board. The coach, who in this context is sometimes described as a mentor, may also help with introductions to other people who in their turn provide assistance, in one way or another, with career development.