In recent years we have had a number of organizations express curiosity about the ever-popular “GROW” method of coaching and how it differs from CMOE’s “Coaching TIPS2™” coaching process. The simplest answer is that the GROW method assumes that the coachee knows what he or she needs to do differently in order to achieve excellence; it also assumes that the coachee is personally and genuinely motivated to make the necessary changes. In contrast, the Coaching TIPS2™ approach is founded on the premise that coachees will make greater improvements with the assistance of a leader or coach, someone who is able to see areas where the coachee needs to improve and that he or she may not be fully aware of. We believe that there are some instances when an “inside-out” method is the appropriate coaching approach. Likewise, there will be some situations where TIPS2™, an “outside-in” approach, makes better logical sense under the circumstances. The question that we need to answer is how leaders choose the best method of coaching given the circumstances they face.
I was first introduced to the notion of “inside-out” coaching in The Inner Game of Tennis, a book that was written by Tim Gallwey and first published in 1972. But unlike those who promote the “inner game” and other self-help movements that have gained popularity in the last 50 years, I don’t believe that unsubstantiated leadership fads have any place in business. In complex organizations, people need leaders to work with them collaboratively on the path to excellence. They need coaches who are courageous and willing to step forward and give them honest feedback. And most of the time, they need direction.
Generally speaking, inside out coaching is best suited to coachees who are thoroughly experienced, keenly self-aware, and deeply reflective about their work. This method of coaching skills for leaders isn’t really about coaching at all: this “inside-out” approach is one that leaders can use to mentor individuals as they ask questions of themselves and take a self-guided approach to growth and improvement, but the leader’s role as a “coach” in this relationship is minimal. But make no mistake: “inside-out” coaching certainly has its place. This method is completely appropriate when the coachee knows what to change, how to improve, and has the motivation to do so.
But what if the coachee doesn’t see the need to change? What if he or she isn’t motivated to make the necessary changes? What if he or she doesn’t know how to change? The reality is that you’ll only have the opportunity to work with truly self-motivated, enthusiastic coachees about 20% of the time. In these (relatively rare) situations, using the inside-out approach is a perfectly acceptable strategy. But the other 80% of the time, you’ll be working with less-cooperative coachees (and those who are simply unaware of a need for change), and you’ll need to work from the outside in. In these (far more common) cases, the Coaching TIPS2™ Model is a much better option.
I have spent the past 35 years exploring the topic of coaching, both informally and through empirical research. Nearly everyone who responded to our investigations into what makes a coach great told us of their experiences with coaches who took a genuine interest in them, who cared, and who were supportive. However, when we listened more closely, we also heard these people describe great coaches as partners with the ability to tell the truth (as they saw it) with empathy, candor, and clarity. These coaches also shared specific strategies with their coachees and held them accountable for their actions. Great coaches must be committed to facilitating adult conversations, being honest, and providing candid feedback to their coachees. Leaders must collaborate with those they coach. They must listen and offer support and encouragement. But it is equally important for them to say what’s on their minds, to promote the organizational strategy, to ask for commitment from their coachees, and ultimately, to get a colleague or employee headed in the right direction.
This we know: real growth is sparked more frequently by leaders who know that it is their job to speak frankly, but with sensitivity; to weigh in to the conversation and offer an opinion; to give the coachee some direction on how he or she could add more value to the business, the customers, and themselves. More often than not, the seed of transformation will be planted by a leader; great coaching will inspire change that starts on the outside and works its way in. This is one of the strengths of the Coaching TIPS2 approach to coaching others. GROW and TIPS2™ both have their own unique strengths, and when used under the proper circumstances, both will give you results. Familiarizing yourself with the strengths and advantages of each of these two approaches will equip you to coach in virtually any situation. Just remember that the key to getting the results you want is choosing the method that best fits the circumstances you are under and the outcomes you desire.
For more information on how CMOE and how our research based products can help with outside-in, or the inside-out coaching, please contact us directly.