Keeping Your Coaching Muscles Flexed

This year I have strived to improve my health and fitness, with some overall good results. Last week though I came down with a cold, and I haven’t been to the gym in a few days; this has made me a little anxious that all my hard work might be lost! When I was thinking about this it also reminded me of a conversation I often have with fellow coaches, which is, ‘How do you keep your coaching muscles flexed in times when you aren’t doing that much coaching?’

I don’t know about you, but my work seems to go in ebbs and flows, sometimes it feels that I spend most of each week coaching, whether that’s one to one or in teams. Then I look back and feel I haven’t done much coaching in a while; my time has been taken up delivering training workshops and ILM programmes. This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but like missing the gym it starts to make me a little anxious; how will I cope when the coaching ramps up again? At the moment it feels that I’m coming to the end of a few coaching relationships, I’m saying goodbye to a number of coachees who’ve reached the end of their contracted programmes. So what will I do to keep those coaching skills fresh and ready in case the next work doesn’t start for a few weeks? The chances are it won’t with Christmas on the doorstep!

Some of the things I make an effort to focus on when I’m doing less coaching are:

  • Embracing the chance to get up to date on reading; what new coaching books are out? What does the latest edition of Coaching at Work have to say?
  • Arrange pro bono coaching sessions; I offer my services pro bono to NHS staff during the year, to support the work I do for them on ILM Coaching programmes. I only have limited capacity for this but I do find it fulfilling, when I can fit it in! I often have to turn people away but when it’s quieter I make extra effort to fit them in.
  • Make sure I have some peer coaching and / or supervision. Last week I met with my peer coach Karen Chamberlain for another great session which allowed us to think about how we develop our respective businesses.
  • Do coaching practice with trainee coaches on the ILM coaching programmes I do; this is a great way to keep those muscles flexed and ensure I am challenging myself to be the best coach I can be. They are after all a challenging audience who I know will ask me why I asked question xxx or why I didn’t intervene about topic yyy!
  • Embrace every opportunity to coach; with my children for example, who are always and will no doubt remain, my biggest coaching challenge!

I’d love to hear more about what you do to keep your coaching muscles flexed when you aren’t coaching a lot. Do you find that in those times you coach your team more? Or do you look for opportunities to receive coaching yourself?