Mahatma Gandhi famously stated that:
“You must BE the change you wish to see in this world”
This quote came to mind recently while I was enjoying one of the rare opportunities to sit at the back of the training room as an observer. There is something unique about being a pure observer in a workshop, as it enables one to notice things that often go missing when you are either a participant or the facilitator.
Gandhi’s quote came prominently to mind while I was watching Dana Eisenstein elegantly demonstrating a live coaching session with a course participant. The participant had volunteered to be coached on an issue that on the surface had been explored and tackled from a number of perspectives with little success. Exasperated by his own attempts at trying to change the presenting issue, the participant simply wanted someone else to provide him with “The Answers”. Ironically, this was the very behaviour he was seeking to address and curtail with one of his Mentees who also wanted to be spoon fed “The Answers”.
Sitting at the back of the room it was interesting to note, that as the Coachee continually ran the problem through his mind, he actually manifested the very behaviour he was seeking to address. Meanwhile, Dana continued to patiently ask questions that encouraged and prompted the Coachee to explore options and self generated solutions.
What was striking about this interaction for me was the distinct difference in attitude and behaviour demonstrated by Coachee and Coach. While one was problem focused and negative about a solution being found the other was solution oriented and positive that the solution would emerge.
In essence, Dana as the coach was practically demonstrating the solution to the Coachee without giving him “The Answers”. She was modeling the behaviours needed by the Coachee to bridge the gap in his approach and resolve the situation. Dana was quite literally being the change she wanted to see. By the end of the demonstration, self generated options and solutions emerged and the Coachee walked away from the demonstration with his own answers and strategies that he was committed to apply when next at work. With newly formed strategies in hand the Coachee looked like a vastly different person to the one who sat down not less than ten minutes beforehand.
Gandhi’s quote is just as relevant to coaching as it is to leadership. Both Coaches and Leaders inspire others through congruent demonstration of the behaviours they are seeking to promote. One can have the spiffiest techniques and the latest methodology at their disposal but without the core component of behavioural demonstration, inspiring others to follow one’s lead becomes infinitely harder.