New Directions

By Jim Ward

New Directions
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What can coaching do for you?

“People participate in or seek out coaching because they want things to be different.” – Co-Active Coaching, Henry Kimsey-House

Over the last several years the practice of professional coaching has gained momentum. Organizations are providing coaching to executives as a way to develop high-potentials. Individuals are also turning to coaching for many different reasons. The bottom-line for coaching is skill development, self assessment and improvement. The Center for Creative Leadership describes coaching as the process of “bringing out the best in people.” An excellent way to think about it. I think of coaching like I think of  athletic training. In order to be proficient, you need to train. Likewise, if we want to improve ourselves to be more effective in the workplace, coaching can help. B. F. Skinner, the behavioral psychologist who developed the theory of “Operant Conditioning”, proved that behavior can be manipulated through the use of positive and negative reinforcement. For example, a pigeon can be taught to press a specific lever by being rewarded with a food pellet or being shocked for choosing the wrong lever.  Too bad we can’t have an electric shock applied to us every time we act inappropriately or say the wrong thing to our work colleagues, clients or even worse, the boss. According to Skinner’s theory, the electric shock would soon change our bad behavior. Since this is not practicable, this is where coaching comes in. The goal of coaching is behavior change. Peter Drucker once said, “we don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.” No truer words have been spoken.

Until next time…


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