As a leadership coach, I regularly reflect on the approaches which support the essential relationship between the client and coach. Something that allows these approaches to work more effectively is an overarching mindset of humility, a mindset that applies to both the client as well as the coach.
I do want to be clear that ‘humility’ for me does not imply weakness, nor is it the opposite of a tough-minded approach to supporting a client in his or her developmental goals. Rather, it implies a respectful environment that recognizes that the most appropriate coaching relationship is one in which client and coach work on strategies, plans and actions that will result in positive impact. Further, a mindset that comes from a humble stance can strengthen the essential base of trust which the most successful coaching partnerships require.
My understanding of humility within coaching and organization work is anchored in the thinking of Edgar Schein (who has more recently been joined by his son, Peter), who have explored a humble approach in support of learning and behavioral change through a series of books.
In this article, I will share some examples of the application of a humble mindset in coaching work from two different perspectives:
- The decision by a client to work with a coach and the coach’s decision to work with a client combined with honouring of the client’s expertise, experience and accomplishment throughout the coaching relationship; and
- The commitment to working with the reality of where the organization is today, rather than where client and/or coach would like it to be.