Coaching is Not Always the Answer… But it Can Be!

If you haven’t read the previous article on coaching, have a read! So to recap, coaching is not always the answer. What is the question? When it comes to our relationship with our people, as leaders our job is to care for them and Grow them. This much is as clear as it is true.

Care & Growth

Care means cultivating and sustaining benevolent intent for those in our charge. Benevolent intent is to have their best interest at heart and to put their interest ahead of your own. Growth, on the other hand, means to enable their maturation which is about their ability to give unconditionally. Giving unconditionally is benevolent intent. Your benevolence begets their benevolence and is a manifestation of their maturity. How you will achieve this is through the three variables of empowerment: Means, Ability, and Accountability. Etsko Schuitema’s brilliant formula for empowerment will certainly go down as the most practical and simple formula for business and people effectiveness.

So, if your job as a leader is to grow people – then what would this look like practically? The summary of Part A of this article may help:


The Formula

While it may seem that the diagram refers to the ABILITY part of the empowerment variables, it really does not. Every part of the cycle above encompasses the full formula of means+ability+accountability in different ways. All the aspects in the diagram may be required however different approaches may apply at different times. Based on the intent (purpose), you will use different enabling tools.


The arrow depicts the coaching processes. Which may start off concerned with Task excellence and progress in terms of this concern. However, once some degree of success is put in place within the performance of the task, the coach will begin to shift away from task excellence towards personal maturity.

Typically your approach will start from the centre of the diagram below.


It is important to start at the core. Build from the centre and expand. This does imply that each element builds on the previous. It works Inside-Out, and then Outside-In again.

The continuum of coaching


From a time perspective, one starts with unlocking or engaging the will to learn. Often individuals get stuck on their journey, and gaining perspective on the issues which confront them and then gaining mastery of these by deciding on a future state and pathways to get there will get the individual unstuck and engage their will to learn. We call this a ‘gripe-to-goal’ conversation which shifts the mindset from ‘victim’ to ‘victor’.

The next possibility for coaching is the coaching for performance – this builds confidence through the task by first gaining proficiency in understanding the ‘why’ of the task and then facilitating pathways to accomplish the expectations of the role. This approach is constantly calibrated by the context and the performance feedback the coachee receives in the operational review process of the business. The competencies to fill the role are accomplished. The focus of this level of coaching is the ‘here-and-now’.

Coaching for excellence is an extension of performance coaching. But it focuses more acutely on the competencies for the immediate next steps. This coaching stage is about polishing for excellence. The coaching cycle is adopted for this purpose.

Mentoring for mastery is the next stage on the continuum and focuses deliberately on cultivating benevolent intent. Intent also implies purpose – so mentoring is about cultivating purposeful living. Becoming intentional in day-to-day engagements and understanding the bigger purpose of your life…

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