Horses for (Sustainability) Courses
In my executive coaching, I try to adhere to the Socratic/pull model where you guide the coachee along with a series of searching questions. The idea is they get to work through the problem themselves, getting a deeper understanding, and they’re more likely to implement the resulting ideas – just in the same way I use workshops in place of traditional ‘clipboard’ consulting.
This patient approach is against my nature, which is to jump in with advice before the other person has stopped talking. It takes quite a bit of discipline not to butt in all the time.
But with one coaching client, I have to drop this approach and push advice. This particular business owner wants to bounce ideas off me, talk through what is and isn’t working and ask me what I would do in certain circumstances. If I suggest something to him, he’ll roll it around in his head and work out how to make it work for him in practice.
I’m the opposite – despite my enthusiasm for giving advice, I’m not that great at taking it. I had a consulting coach for a year and while I valued his advice, I always felt he was trying to corral me in particular direction rather than let me think things through. I spent most of my time telling him why his advice wouldn’t work for me, which wasn’t very productive.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which approach is ‘better’ – or worse ‘right’ (although I find for most people the pull approach works best and so it’s my default). What really matters is doing what is best for your audience – Green Jujitsu in other words. It takes humility to work to their preferred way of learning rather than your favoured methodology.
And that’s my advice.