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Enhance your staff's effectiveness with transformational coaching

Coaching guru Thomas G. Crane differentiates a coach from a boss, and brings to Manila a new concept of creating a high-performance work environment
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There are probably hundreds of books on coaching available in local bookstores, coaching guru Thomas G. Crane of the United States said during a recent visit to Manila, but he says only The Heart of Coaching, the book he co-authored with Lerissa Nancy Patrick and Troy S. Parker (FTA Press, 2007), deals with transformational coaching.

What is transformational coaching? As Crane says in the book, "The working definition of transformational coaching is [that it is] the art of assisting people enhance their effectiveness, in a way that they feel helped."

This approach is different from the so-called hierarchical command-and-control mentality or from the superior-subordinate setup in which the coach takes the upper hand and the coached occupies a notch lower.

With transformational coaching, a business manager--the boss--would have to unlearn the traditional mindset and forget about his position of power while coaching. Coaching, Crane emphasizes, is a powerful tool to create a high-performance work environment.


"People who own the business have a real key opportunity to be coaches for everybody inside that business, whether it's a big or small company," Crane, who is also founder of the California-based Crane Consulting, said in an interview with Entrepreneur. "If they pick up and learn coaching skills, they can have even better expectations for their company, staff, or the business in general."

He continues: "Entrepreneurs also usually wear different hats and multi-task a lot, so this gives them more latitude or [a wider] range of skills they can use with everybody. This way, they can have an inspired workplace. In an entrepreneurial environment, innovation, change and creativity are key--these are the things that coaching really helps develop."

A transformational coach, Crane says, must:

  • invest time to get to know people as people
  • understand people's roles, goals, and challenges on the job to be helpful
  • set a clear context and great expectations
  • observe people's work closely enough to have relevant and substantive feedback
  • provide timely, candid, and specific feedback regarding observations and interpret their impact on oneself, on other people, and on organizational performance
  • stimulate learning, growth, and performance improvement by asking effective learning questions; and
  • leave people feeling supported and empowered to contribute at increasingly higher levels.

Crane says that the most powerful message about transformational coaching is explicitly stated in the book's title: it's all about "connecting with people, and having a relationship built on trust, rapport, and mutual respect. We need to be respectful, candid, and [be able to] tell each other the truth when we work together."


He also advocates a performance-based, "feedback-rich" coaching culture that will more effectively support the organization's business strategy and lead to higher and more sustainable levels of performance.

But how does this feedback-rich approach work in the Asian or Philippine environment, where people are not as outspoken as their Western counterparts?

Crane's answer: "As soon as we can get value from a conversation that goes like, "I really like learning from your perspective and I think you can help me better," then we can warm the waters and the people in this
country as in any place else."

Coaching guru Thomas Crane warns managers and business owners against falling into the trap of being demanding, self-absorbed, and controlling. He says that these are some indicators of "bossing" as against coaching:

  • Bosses believe that their job is to push people or drive them. Coaches believe that they are there to lift and support people.
  • Bosses believe that they should talk to people by telling, directing, and lecturing. Coaches believe in engaging in dialogue with people by asking, requesting, and listening.
  • Bosses believe in controlling others through the decisions they make. Coaches believe in helping others make decisions and empowering them to implement their own decisions.
  • Bosses believe they know the answers. Coaches believe they must seek the answers.
  • A boss triggers insecurity by administering fear to achieve compliance. A coach believes in using purpose to inspire commitment and stimulate creativity.
  • Bosses believe that their job is to point out errors. Coaches believe that their job is to celebrate learning.
  • A boss believes in solving problems and making decisions. A coach believes in facilitating others to solve problems and make decisions.
  • A boss believes in delegating responsibility. A coach believes in modeling accountability.
  • Bosses believe in creating structure and procedures for people to follow. Coaches believe in creating a vision and promoting flexibility through values as guidelines for behavior.
  • A boss believes in doing things right. A coach believes in doing the right things.
  • Bosses believe their power lies in their knowledge. Coaches believe that their power lies in their vulnerability.
  • A boss believes in focusing on the bottom line. A coach believes in focusing on the process that creates the bottom line.


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