Is Coaching Soft?—Using Coaching to Get Hard Results

Jun 30, 2021 2 min read
Is Coaching Soft?—Using Coaching to Get Hard Results

In this guest post, we show how to use business coaching to achieve hard business results by addressing soft barriers.

One of the myths about coaching that I still meet regularly is that coaching is soft and just about “personal stuff”. The people with this misconception will typically dismiss coaching as something that is a distraction from delivering business results.

In his guest post, Jan Bowen-Nielsen dispels this myth.

Using Soft Skills to Get Hard Results

Are you “soft” or “hard”?

When a team member comes in and asks for your opinion or help to resolve a problem, how do you respond?

I would argue that the easy, that is “soft” way, is to give the person your answer, advice, or solution. And, the “hard” option is to challenge the team member to come up with their answers.

Initially, the first option seems helpful and efficient, but this is short-lived when you consider the consequences! You have effectively re-enforced that you have the answers, and they are helpless without you.

They are unlikely to have learned much, if anything, so you can expect the team member to come back again and again with similar problems for you to solve.

This creates a dependency on you and diverts your attention from doing your job.

It does not lead to a high-performance team!

The harder option involves helping the team member to solve the problem for themselves.

This will improve their capabilities and confidence.

If you help them to learn from the experience, so they are better equipped to solve similar problems in the future, they will improve their capabilities and confidence, and you will have fewer interruptions in the future.

This is what coaching can do.

The long-term time saving is indeed the most frequently cited benefit of using a coaching approach that I hear from managers after they have completed a coaching training course.

Achieving hard business results by addressing soft barriers

Coaching in business environments tends to be orientated towards hard performance improvement goals. However, the barriers to achieving these are often related to the individual’s personal self-awareness, behaviours, habits, motivation, focus, and skills.

So, although coaches employ many soft skills in their practice, they can be challenging and demanding too, which helps those in a coaching relationship overcome limitations and barriers they place on themselves. A good coach will also take a systemic view, lining business goals to changes in the actions, behaviours, and mind-set of the coached.

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