Coaching for success – the art of reflection

Many of you will be aware through the various social media platforms that I have just embarked upon the ILM Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring course.  The motivation behind this came from the desire to improve the ability of our team to ‘self-solve’; ultimately delivering more time, better overall performance and a learning culture within our business.

Whilst I am in the very initial stages of the programme, my learning curve has already been steep and invaluable, and I can’t help but apply and consider the processes and methodologies I have learned to everyday life.

Utilising models such as GROW (Sir John Whitmore), AID questioning techniques and clean language have facilitated the coachee coming up with their own options and action plans.  However, my own ‘lightbulb’ moments have come from the use of Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory and the focus it has forced me to place on reflection.

The time to self-analyse and evaluate is a luxury I have not previously indulged in.  My viewpoint had been that I don’t have time to do this and instead I move from one meeting to the next, one conversation to the next or resourcing one role to the next.  Business operates at pace and the use of technology is an enabler further increasing that pace.  Whilst I believe I continually learn by doing and experiencing, learning through reflection and thinking are conceptually new to me and yet have delivered incredible realisations in a short period of time.

I believe reflection is a true art form, and one that I am yet to fully master. However, reviewing how a meeting or conversation went, being self-critical about what could have been done better / instead of / more or less of and fundamentally planning a change in behaviour next time that conversation crops up is surely the best learning we can hope to achieve.  Being able to achieve a different result is surely what defines our own learning journey.

As a business leader, in whatever guise that takes, why do we not then factor in more time for individuals to reflect?  I have learnt to ask questions of others after they go through an experience, forcing them to think about how it went and what they would change next time.  But this requires time – even 10 minutes – and we don’t always have this.  10 minutes’ reflection is a luxury that I would advocate is worth 100 minutes’ in the future.  My journey continues, but already I have seen the absolute benefit and achieved successful change by embracing the art of reflection.