Critical Competencies for Effective Coaching (And a Book) by Lisa Haneberg

Great coaching is at the heart of meaningful accomplishments. In an organizational and team context, being able to coach people means helping them overcome their own resistance, get unstuck and move forward in the direction of their goals. Great coaching catalyzes great results.

But too often, we see managers and leaders getting so busy on the treadmill of getting things done that they lose focus on how those results are achieved. A leader’s constant job is to strike a balance between getting things done and developing people. Doing one at the cost of the other can be a great disservice to organization and its people.

I recently read revised edition of my friend Lisa Haneberg’s book “Coaching Basics” published by Association for Talent Development (ATD). It is a wonderful resource for organizational leaders, HR professionals and managers if they want to understand the nuances of how to coach others for greatness. I strongly recommend this book.

I was also fortunate to be able to write a blurb in this book where I say,

Companies often tell their leaders to ‘coach’ people without giving any guidance on the ‘how.’ Lisa Haneberg fills this important gap by offering a very useful handbook that clarifies the foundation of good coaching and offers actionable insights and tools for effective coaching.

– Tanmay Vora, Director, Product Development R&D, Basware

But when I read this book, I was instantly reminded of a wonderful post that Lisa wrote in 2014 where she outlined critical competencies of a great coach.

Here are a couple of excellent quotes from Lisa’s post:

“Coaching is a service and we cannot be successful if the learner perceives that we are helping to satisfy OUR needs or wants.”

“Great coaches are able to help learners adopt a more helpful perspective of the situations about which they are struggling.”

And here is a sketch note summary of coaching competencies that Lisa’s post outlines.

Get the book at: | Amazon

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Also read at

Coaching Culture: The Art and Science of Success #IndiaHRChat

It was a time to participate in #IndiaHRChat again and the topic this time was “Coaching: The Art and Science of Success”. The topic is very dear to me and it was a great learning experience reading tweets from various people in HR Fraternity. Tweet-Insights from the special guest Mr. Gurprriet Singh (@JoyandLife), Managing Consultant and Head of YSC India helped in understanding the nuances of coaching based on his experiences.

It was fun sharing my insights and participating in this conversation. You can read all tweets in this storified version of the chat. Here are the bite sized ideas on personal branding that I shared or amplified.

Why a Culture of Coaching?

A culture of coaching fosters trust, accelerates learning and builds collaboration.

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Coaching helps people navigate change and be adaptable. Adaptable teams help in organizational adaptability.

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Better coaching = Better team/business results = Satisfied Customers = Better Bottom lines.

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Coaching takes the baton where training leaves it! Coaching complements training and induces behavioral change.

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Coaching increases performance, productivity and job satisfaction at all levels.

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"I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities." Bob Nardelli, former CEO, HomeDepot

Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching addresses specific purpose or task and is time bound. Mentoring focuses on the individual and long term.

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Coaching is the subset of mentoring and focuses on specific goal or task at hand.

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Mentoring is broad & relational while coaching often tends to be about functional improvements. (RT @sundertrg)

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Mentoring is led from the front, coaching supported from behind. Mentor sets agenda, coach does not. (RT @SeapointCenter)

When Should Coaching NOT be Used?

When challenges are related to attitude and thinking of the person, coaching will not help.

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Never ask managers to coach people unless managers have demonstrated capabilities to be a good coach. (RT @ThinKritical )

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Try coaching in a situation of fire/escalation where response time is critical and you may fail. Coaching needs time.

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Never ask managers to coach people unless managers have demonstrated capabilities to be a good coach. (RT @ThinKritical)

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Coaching is ineffective when used as a last resort to retain an employee. (RT @ThinKritical)

Characteristics of a Good Coach

A coach has to be humane. Interested in people. Committed to growing others and elevate their game.

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You can never coach others when you are insecure about yourself. Personal proficiency is a pre-requisite.

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To ENLIST people, a coach has to LISTEN, probably why both words are formed using same letters!

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When people are being coached, feedback is their compass. Trust is the currency. A good coach knows that!

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A good coach needs content skills and context skills – ability to map the knowledge and actions w.r.t. specific context.

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Good coach is: Positive. Enthusiastic. Respectful. Empowering. Supportive. Patient. Result Oriented. Knowledgeable.

The Ideal Coaching Candidate

An ideal coaching candidate is open-minded and willing to learn.

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When it comes to a coaching candidate, as @tom_peters says, “ATTITUDE > ABILITY”

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The coach will appear when the student is ready ! start getting ready. (RT @JonasPrasanna)

Challenges in Establishing a Culture of Coaching

Not having clear objective of coaching exercise OR not aligning the coaching goals with business objectives.

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An organizational culture that thwarts new ideas will seldom succeed in building a coaching culture.

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Coaching being given by people who don’t "get" the essence of coaching.

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Looking for short-term ROI from coaching exercise 🙂

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BONUS: Read the interview I did with Marshall Goldsmith and Chip R. Bell on The Art of Effective Mentoring to complement these lessons.

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Also Read: Bite Sized Insights on Personal Branding #IndiaHRChat

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Great Teachers are Great Leaders and Vice Versa

** Great teachers are invariably great leaders because they:

  • inspire greatness amongst their students.
  • influence them to bring about a positive change in their lives.
  • enable students to define their personal vision.
  • elevate performances of students.
  • see each student as a human being.
  • ‘listen’ to their students’ unique needs.
  • not only teach explicit subjects but also share implicit knowledge and experiences.
  • coach, guide and mentor their students.
  • provide tools and resources necessary for students to succeed.
  • act as ‘change agents’ for the society.

Leaders at any level have to be good teachers because they:

  • have to set the right context and direct people’s energies.
  • have to establish the mission and vision of the project/initiative/organization.
  • have to constantly communicate with people for right alignment.
  • also have to see their “human capital” as human beings.
  • need to share their wisdom, experiences and implicit knowledge.
  • got to develop strong relationship with their people.
  • also learn a great deal while teaching others.
  • develop alternative perspectives about situations in process of teaching.
  • have to empower and inspire people towards excellence by teaching, guiding and mentoring.
  • make a big difference to organization’s culture and performance.
  • are the ‘change agents’ for improving organization’s performance.

** These are traits of ‘great’ teachers only – there are so many lousy teachers around, that this needs a special mention! To see what great teaching looks like – see this amazing video of how a teacher inspires greatness.

Bonus: Read this real life story of how one of my teachers inspired me, unlocked my potential and helped me overcome my fear of speaking in public.

Have a Brilliant start into the week!

8 Lessons I Learned on Being an Effective Mentor

Today, I have been reading and thinking about importance of ‘workplace mentoring’ in building great teams that deliver results. I chose the term ‘workplace mentoring’ because I am writing this from a business context.

To me, simple definition of workplace mentoring is – “An act of coaching/counseling with an intent of improving people, their performance, effectiveness and outcomes”. Since workplace mentoring involves one to one human exchange of values, the line between workplace and personal mentoring is often diminished over a period of time.

What do mentors typically do?

  • Mentors elevate human potential and hence performance.
  • Mentors open up a world of possibilities for people being mentored.
  • Mentors generously ‘give’ – their time, knowledge and resources.

What I have learned about effective workplace mentoring?

  • Effective mentoring is an art and the process of mentoring starts when the value starts flowing from one human (mentor) to another.
  • Building trust is at the core of being a good mentor. The ideas and thoughts of a mentor will never will completely received unless there is a strong trust that mentor is here to help. To make things better.
  • Mentoring is a human activity. Some level of planning helps, but too much of it kills the purpose of mentoring. Let it remain an ‘art’.
  • Mentoring is seldom a formal activity. It happens informally over a cup of coffee, in a one-on-one meeting, at the water cooler, in the canteen and sometimes at the desk of the person being mentored.
  • Mentoring is about transferring benefits of your wisdom by telling meaningful stories, building context and generously sharing knowledge. It is as much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘telling’. Mentors are people person – they love people and strongly believe in channelizing human potential. They believe in people.
  • That brings me to the ‘generosity’ element. A mentor is generous with his time, resources and knowledge. An effective mentor generously ‘gives’, and hence ‘serves’.
  • Mentoring is a ‘mutual’ game. People follow a mentor by choice – one that is driven by who the mentor is, what value he can deliver and how can it help them in being better. ‘Assigning’ a mentor to someone does not help unless they know their mentor as a person (and their influence).
  • From organization’s point of view, mentoring has to be a top-down initiative. Skill and experience to effectively mentor others should be a primary requirement for job at a leadership position.  A leader’s job is two-fold – drive business results and grow capacities of people while doing that. Mentoring skills are a must to achieve the latter.

Personally for me, mentoring others has been a selfish activity – because it helped me become more people oriented, more social and more thoughtful. Sometimes, spending those unscheduled 20 minutes with a team member over a cup of coffee can be a great energizer.

Have a great week ahead!