I am a coach and also a trainer and supervisor of coaches. Last week I was reminded once again of the extraordinary capacity of a coaching conversation to accelerate and deepen your thinking on a topic. I was encouraging a group of teaching and learning improvement coaches to use the OSKAR model and we were exploring it in a paired coaching exercise, bringing a real issue for discussion.
I paired up with a coach who needed a partner and shared a real topic that I am working on within my freelance business at the moment. The coach used the OSKAR model to help me explore goals, resources, experiences, options for action and finally small steps for moving forward. It was a concise 15 minute conversation in which I thought, worked and spoke a lot, while my coach focused on attentive, active listening and crafted specific questions to deepen my thinking. I discovered new insights, identified several viable options for future action and noted some manageable first steps. It was striking how powerful and concise this type of conversation can be for the coachee, if the coach has skills and a helpful framework for the dialogue.
For the coach, the OSKAR model provided focus and structure that enabled a broad and deep exploration of the topic and helped him to avoid getting lost in narrative details; as the coachee, it helped me to look at different aspects of the topic and explore different experiences I could bring to it – this created a much richer, more insightful piece of thinking than the one that I might have done on my own! I noticed connections and patterns that had previously been there but not brought to mind.
I had been hovering around the topic mentally for weeks but this short conversation accelerated my thinking and moved me into finding small, solid steps. It all became clearer, sharper focused, more doable and I felt motivated and energised. As the coach gave me no input whatsoever, no ideas or advice, I also felt capable and resourceful and as if I had worked this all out myself! A motivating boost… I am already into my action plan, in fact…
For coaches I hope this anecdote shows how using these approaches can have a real impact on the coachee’s thinking and capacity to act. It also reminded me as a coach of how stimulating it is to experience coaching and reflect on process and skills, to enhance your own practice. I always recommend that coaches have regular peer coaching conversations with fellow coaches as part of their ongoing development and reflection process.
Thanks to Craig Bates from New College Durham for this insightful and helpful coaching conversation. It was a really inspiring 15 minutes.
For more on the OSKAR model, see this link: