Are coaches colluding in perpetuating a culture of control? If so, to what degree and in what ways? And – what do we choose to do about this?

This article includes highlights from the May 16, 2013, Heart and Soul of Coaching call in which we explored the often subtle ways the dynamic of control can creep into coaching.

In order to explore the concept of control in coaching, we need to acknowledge first that we live in a culture of control. Once we accept this, we get to choose consciously how we participate in the culture. This means being intentional about the culture we create in the coaching profession and the culture we foster with our clients – because much of what we chafe against in the world today, a lot of what doesn’t feel good, is based in a need to control.

In the email invitation for the May H&S call, I raised some questions:

  • How/why is it important for coaches to let go of the need to control?
  • What tells you you’ve gone into the dynamic of control in your work?
  • And – how can you feel confident about your work if you choose to relinquish control?

As a baseline, the definitions for control include: To exercise command over, to direct, curb or restrain.

We know we are at our best in coaching when we surrender fully to the the unfolding exploration in the moment. From this place we source our deepest, most relevant, just in time wisdom for the client. From this place, we hear context as well as content, way of being and thinking in addition to details. We hear who AND what.

 Said another way-

When we surrender the need to control, it opens the space within which discovery can take place.

This requires a balancing act: Balancing intention with flexibility, purposefulness with non-attachment. Honoring a client’s stated agenda while noticing and including what else shows up along the way always in invitation to the client’s growth.

So how and where does control creep into coaching?

Some of the subtle faces of control in coaching may surprise you:

1) Going the extra mile for your clients – because you’re afraid not to do so.

2) Over-preparing for a session – so you’ll feel less vulnerable.

3) Attachment to doing coaching “right” – so you can feel reassured.

4) Directing or even challenging – when based in your need for the client’s outcome.

5) Problem solving – because of your discomfort over the client’s discomfort.

6) Being professional – at the expense of being authentic.

And – surprise, surprise: It’s a two-way dance. Coaches aren’t the only ones who can get caught in control. See part 2 of this article, for:

1) Indicators that your clients may be hiding behind some of the masks of control, and

2) Tips on how you can avoid the control trap.

Want to hear the audio of this call for the unabridged conversation?

If you are a member of the Heart and Soul community, you have received an email with a direct link to access the audio of the May H&S.

If you are not yet a member of the community, you can gain access to the audio by joining here.

PS: Be sure to join us for the June, 2013, H&S call when we move from control to invitation!