PhD research identified 10 key leadership practices that engender trust. Coaching is one.

While many people would describe me as a confident leader, underneath the facade I am constantly second guessing myself. It took me years to understand what it is to coach someone else. I never felt that I had anything of value to give, and I certainly never saw, or see myself as the expert.

It has taken a long time, but I have learnt that to coach someone else does not mean that I have to be the expert. I don’t have to have all the answers. Coaching is not about giving advice or providing a person with a solution.

Coaching is about empowering the other person to find their inner confidence. Coaching is about helping the other person grow. Coaching is about unlocking his or her potential and finding their own solutions.

Everyone is different. We each have a unique personality. Who we are is shaped by the experiences we have in life, and we all live different lives. The same applies to leadership. There are basic principles and practices, but we will all bring our own style to the role. If I was ever tempted to give advice it is possible that that advice wouldn’t be as effective for the person if they took my approach for themselves. Good coaches don’t try and create a ‘mini me’.

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their growth (Whitemore)

A coach asks great questions, firstly to help the person reflect deeply. Questions help the person cut to the heart of the problem they are dealing with. Great questioning helps identify what is a risk.

A coach then provokes the person to brainstorm solutions, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each. A coach then helps the person pick their preferred solution and encourages them to set it in motion.

A good coach rarely, if ever, suggests solutions. They listen carefully. They help the person articulate how they are feeling. They help the person understand themselves better, to see themselves from a different position. They encourage the person to find their own inner strength, courage and confidence, and to believe in themselves.

A good coach doesn’t have to be an expert at a job, but does have to be an expert listener and questioner. This is what I have learnt and try to practice about coaching.