How to lead with the heart

How to lead with the heart
December 9, 2019 Pam Griffiths

*2020 enrolment for The Coach Approach System is now open!*

The heart of coaching is the coaching conversation, which takes time, training, courage and commitment from organizations, leaders and aspiring coaches. That’s easier said than done in today’s environment of constant change.

Coaching conversations are where breakthroughs happen and “impossible” futures are declared possible. The coach shows up fully present and committed to the client’s success. The person being coached walks away inspired, with new insights and committed to action. 

The client or coachee chooses the focus of the conversation, while the coach listens, asks powerful questions and holds up the sign post for where the coachee wants to be. These are not light, fluffy conversations filled with ideas and empty positivity. They have substance and delve into areas that may hold the coachee back to open up possibility. It’s a process of respectful inquiry and a partnership based on trust. The interaction between coach and coachee provides clarity to situations and moves the client forward in a powerful way. 

The coach holds up the mirror for the coachee by reflecting back what they heard. Coaches must be willing to take risks and provide clear feedback when they’re hearing or observing a disconnect between what the coachees want and their behaviours. Most of us are conditioned to avoid certain topics, to not upset the apple cart or create conflict. Part of a coach’s role is to have courageous conversations that are safe but not always comfortable. They don’t ignore crucial issues that are being swept under the carpet or pretend that problems don’t exist when they clearly do. Often the subjects that feel most awkward and uncomfortable are the ones that need airing out the most. Coaches discuss the undiscussable. 

Feelings have traditionally been a taboo topic in the workplace. Coaches, however, understand that feelings are at the heart of all human interaction and are trained to probe below the surface of people’s actions and inactions, exploring beliefs and emotions that underlie behaviour. We can’t change behaviours if we don’t understand the motivation or thinking behind them. Consider the iceberg. What we see is only a small percentage of it. Most of the ice lies beneath the water. Similarly, behaviours are what people do on the surface while their motivations, values, beliefs and perceptions are generally hidden from our view. 

This is actually the yummiest part of coaching. It’s where the gold lies, beneath the surface. When coaches and coachees learn how to go below the surface we get to uncover what’s at the heart of human motivation. Coaches do this by creating a safe container so that coachees can be open, vulnerable and say what they need to say. By asking powerful questions coaches gain greater insight and challenge beliefs. 

How to lead with the heart:


Be present


To fully listen and be with our coachee, we must be fully present. This means no distractions, we’re not thinking about something else as they’re talking, forming our next question or where WE want to take the conversation. Instead we are right there with them. Listening beyond their words by observing their energy and body language will help you tap into what else is going on beyond what they say.


Remain curious 


In a coaching conversation, it’s important to understand where your coachee is coming from. Assuming the meaning behind a response or a story they tell you can make a good coaching conversation go sideways.


Ask questions that go beneath the iceberg


What motivates your client? What strengths do they bring to the world? In other words, why do they do what they do? What are their values? What beliefs about are holding them back? By uncovering what’s really important to our coachee, we can help them achieve extraordinary results..


Ready to learn how to bring heart into coaching so you can have more powerful conversations, have greater impact and experience extraordinary results? 

Our coaching skills academy to become a highly effective coach, The Coach Approach System™ Level 1 and Level 2 is open for enrolment for 2020. Get on our waitlist and complete your application by filling in the form below! 



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