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WBECS and the Cosy Club

What would you say to a senior executive you were coaching who had not undertaken any of the actions agreed at the previous meeting? This was the question John and I asked participants at the Challenging Coaching session of the WBECS virtual conference.

We put participants in the hypothetical situation as coach to Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, six months before the Deep Water Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Imagine it is the second coaching session, and when asked how he has got on with the actions from the first coaching meeting, Tony said, “I haven’t done anything, I’ve been too busy!” WBECS participants were asked to choose 1 out of 4 possible replies that represented their typical response. Here are the results:

10%    Ok, what do you want to talk about today?

50%    It sounds like you’ve had a difficult few weeks. How does that make you feel?

31%    This is awkward, I don’t want to let you off the hook. How committed are you to this coaching process?

9%      That’s just not good enough. Who’s time are we wasting?

We then showed the WBECS participants how these responses mapped onto the support and challenge matrix:

support challenge matrix for blog

So 10% chose the inertia apathy quadrant of low support and low challenge. 50% chose the cosy club high support, low challenge quadrant. 31% chose the ‘loving boot’ zone of high support and high challenge. 9% chose the stress box of high challenge, low support.

This is the first time we have asked coaches to think about their response to this scenario before revealing the support and challenge matrix. This makes the results even more interesting as respondents are not skewed by the desire to appear as a challenging coach.

I accept that tone of voice, and what the coach says next will significantly influence the nature of challenge. However, the results of this pop survey suggest that cosy club coaching is most common. This is not surprising given the emphasis placed by coaching schools and the professional bodies on building rapport and developing empathy.

John and I would like to thank everyone who joined us at WBECS. It was great to connect with a truly international group of enthusiastic coaches who participated fully to make the session really enjoyable.

Where are you on the support challenge matrix? Do you have a default style, and what tips do you have to move out of the cosy club and into high support and high challenge?

Post your thoughts on the Challenging Coaching LinkedIn Group.