Coaching is a deceptively simple process. When you watch a good coach, the conversation looks so effortless and produces such excellent results!
Looks can be deceiving though. The familiar interpersonal skills observed in coaching (listening, asking questions and being in a connected and intentional relationship) must fit into an unfamiliar framework. New coaches often stress over making sure conversations are handled in a coach-like manner. With training and practice, a new mental model forms, which I call the Delta Framework.
Scientists use the Greek letter delta to describe what has changed in an experiment or laboratory situation. Coaches can use this same idea to measure a client’s progress in every conversation. Comparing the starting point and the ending point of a conversation (or coaching relationship) highlights what has changed. This is the power of the Delta Framework.
The Delta Framework keeps your coaching focus by following three steps:
1. Pinpoint where you are. Think about this as your personal “You are here” sign. Listening well and asking powerful questions nails a deep understanding of your starting point.
2. Choose a destination. It’s often pretty easy to see some options for where you’d like to be. Got a vision? Something you’d want to change? Or a skill that would be helpful to learn? Your destination might be as simple as a mental picture of what it will be like when that result happens!
3. Shorten the distance. One step at a time, figure out how you can make a little progress toward where you’re looking to be. Just make sure that your action steps are bringing you closer to your preferred accomplishment! Don’t be afraid to engage both the linear and creative sides of your client’s thinking. Both right and left brain thinking can point the way. (An interesting comparison might be how differently the two hemispheres of your client’s brain would map the way forward.)
Apply the framework by ending the conversation with a juxtaposition of the starting point and the end point of a coaching conversation. Like those video games in restaurants, the side-by-side comparison spotlights the differences.
Powerful coaching questions like “What has changed in this conversation?” and “What do you now realize about yourself?” give clients a chance to assess the change (the delta). Both answers give words to the delta, or change, in the conversation. Analyzing for gaps in learning or missed opportunities becomes easier as well. Your client relaxes into the conversation, which opens the mind to deeper thinking and creativity. Your conversations will produce better results with less stress.
If you do these three simple things in your coaching, your relationships will help leaders make progress toward their agendas! And you’ll be a more masterful coach!