Strictly Done Coaching. Have you got the repertoire to get to Blackpool?

Saturday evening, glass of red wine, sit back and be entertained and inspired by my favourite coaching demonstration. This Saturday, ‘Strictly’ served up the exuberant playfulness of Debbie McGee’s Charleston, the passion of Alexandra’s Tango and Aston’s searing attack on the Paso Doble to “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. In each we saw technique, self-control and self-expression melded together in performance.

As contestants go through the Strictly process, they have to summon from within themselves calm elegance, gleeful mischief, powerful assertion and a host of other qualities that they may have never found before. That’s what different dances require. Of course, some contestants struggle. But those that go far find these hidden selves and take the risk of letting them out.

As coaches, we have our favourite dances that we do with confidence with our clients. Those dances provide each of us with a foundation for our professional signature. As we articulate that signature and our personal brand gets known we may start to attract the clients who want to dance the way we know best. And that can create chemistry – we agree we can dance together.

But sometimes clients arrive who want to work with us and they need us to choreograph a difference dance. Or perhaps the Viennese Waltz was fine at the beginning of the partnership, but now it‘s time to Jive.

Often when a client gets stuck or is struggling, I will ask them about other areas of their life where they show a different self. The task-focused manager then finds patience and the ability to nurture from how they tend their garden. The cautious leader draws on the creativity they express in the large motor-bikes that they customise. They access different resources and find the confidence to flex as they meet new challenges. In doing so, they build versatility and repertoire.

As coaches, we can do the same. It’s good for us because we grow our technique, our confidence and the range of our offer. It’s good for our clients because we become more able to be in step with them whatever their needs. But it’s easy to play safe or simply not realise what else we could bring to our coaching. It’s worth reflecting: do you usually do the Paso Doble or a Charleston? Do you have both in your repertoire?

A few years ago I taught on the AoEC’s advanced programme. One of the participants surprised me at the end of programme party when she took to the dance floor in sparkly red shoes and showed herself to be a confident and commanding dancer. I had seen her coach well but not glimpsed this side of her. I asked her what it might be like if she were to coach with her red shoes on.

‘Strictly’ might seem like light entertainment – a world away from the seriousness of coaching. But like a powerful dance, a great coaching session is a thing of beauty. How good it is depends on many things, but a key factor is what we are willing to give of ourselves. If we take a risk, build repertoire and show those parts of ourselves that usually cower in the recesses of who we are, we can strut our coaching stuff with a wide range of clients.

And that will help us to keeeeeep coachin’.

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