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James Flanagan

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Executive coaching: Criteria for success pt2


James Flanagan concludes his piece on the facets of coaching necessary for success.

Components of coaching

Coaches are easy to relate to. They have an ability to listen that goes beyond the average and is called active or deep listening. This enables them to explore an area that might appear initially unrelated. Their questioning is simple, has a purpose and is influencing without being controlling, it is without personal agenda. The result, the coachee has a different view of themselves and their situations. They feel energised and empowered to take an action that before they would have relied on someone else to do or just accepted as impossible.

Julie Starr in The Coaching Manual identifies five components in coaching: building rapport, listening, intuition, using questions, giving feedback.

Building rapport helps builds trust, gains buy-in and influence. Its development requires the coach to have integrity, be consistent, open and trustworthy. It is aided by their care of physical appearance/clothes, body language, qualities of voice, language/words used, beliefs and values. Coaches have mastered the art of listening. Ridded of dysfunctional thoughts, their mind is calm; their awareness is focused on the other person. While they have little or no sense of themselves, they are lucid and present.

They can draw on their brain’s potential to provide guidance and information free from the confines of their conscious mind. Intuition is a very rapid leaping over logical analysis like jumping stepping stones on a fast running stream. They can retrace their steps and use logic to arrive at the conclusion but in the moment of need they can find a faster answer through intuition. It is important to develop intuition and insight. e.g. 'What do you know that the coachee isn’t seeing that you can’t TELL them but need to get them to see? When did you know that you know it?' As coaches we need to be able to access this sub-conscious knowledge spotting pattern. Understanding this means the coach can create this context more quickly.

Asking simple, purposeful, powerful questions that influence without control is a talent that can be developed. They refocus thought, tap into creativity and cause forward movement. Feedback is given with positive intention, based on fact or behaviour, constructive or beneficial; it is specific, selective and sincere.

A four-stage process

In The Coaching Manual, Julie Starr goes on to describe coaching as a four-stage process.

First, establish the context for the coaching. Context includes, the background information to the issue that is being discussed, where the coaching will take place and how the coach intends to engage with the coachee.

Second, the coach creates understanding and direction, what the purpose of the coaching is and what the coachee wants to achieve. The coach, using open ended questions, investigates the coachee’s situation and objectives and agrees the outcomes they want to achieve.

Reviewing the progress achieved by the coachee in their environment is the third stage.

The coach does this to achieve the fourth stage, where the coachee feels comfortable and encouraged to make ongoing learning and change and where they feel a sense of support.


Coaching is defined by intention. If your intention is to help the other person improve their own performance by helping them to think things through for themselves, then you are trying to coach. By developing coaching as a part of anyone’s management style those on the receiving end of these skills will be more empowered, and find work is an opportunity to develop themselves and deliver more at work. It is good for individuals and for the organisations in which they operate. 

James Flanagan, a training director of consultancy specialising in positive leadership. His most recent assignment has been delivering a programme he and a colleague designed, ‘Manager to Coach,’ in a UK plant of a global manufacturing organisation. James Flanagan helps organisations to change by increasing the leadership and communication skills of management. Using proven methodologies he creates frameworks and develops the skill level and capability of management to use the frameworks.

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James Flanagan

Freelance Training Consultant

Read more from James Flanagan

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