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Illustration of two hands making a heart shape on a purple background

Coaching at the Heart

Tim Cox
June 26, 2023


It is not all that we do; and it is central to all that we do.

A non-directive Coaching approach informs every MF service and every interaction we have; Interactions with clients, participants and with each other.


Each member of the MF team will have their own answer to that question.  My own response is…”because its works”.

I’m tempted to end this piece here. I will though expand on three words and continue for a while longer.

“Because it works” takes me back very near half my lifetime to the year 2000. I was an aspiring General Manager at a vibrant Bar and Restaurant chain. One of the reasons I joined the organisation was their investment in people and their development. I attended numerous training programmes including a week long outward bound course in the Lake District; a very intensive experience with the Territorial Army, and a half day workshop exploring ‘Coaching Skills for Managers’.

Each of them had an impact on me. Learnings from the latter still echo.

I vividly remember sitting in the room becoming increasingly excited about the approach. It made sense. I was cross referencing the principles, and the skills described against my own experience of managers.

When the good ones were good, they applied much of these. When the bad were bad they came nowhere near. Nowhere near, in thought nor deed.

The principles felt right. I committed to keep them front and centre in my mind.

  • The people you’re working with are resourceful.
  • Your role is to work with and develop their resourcefulness.
  • Everyone is unique; you need to tailor your approach.
  • People need to buy into what you’re asking them to do; they need to feel some ownership.
  • You can work in partnership with others, tell is rarely the most effective approach.

The flow of a coaching approach also made sense.

  • Get clear on what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Understand the context. What’s going to get in the way of you succeeding. What will help you to succeed.
  • How might you/we do it.
  • What’s next? By when? What do you need from me?

And the core skills felt tangible. They were skills I could practice, benchmark and practice:

  • Establish and build trust.
  • Listen at depth.
  • Summarise and reflect back.
  • Use powerful questions.
  • Get good at goal setting.

I committed to try it out. To see whether a coaching approach made a positive difference.

It did.

It improved performance. It improved engagement. It worked for different people in different circumstances. It improved the experience. It improved results.

And it still does.

There is more to an effective coaching approach than the bullet points shared here. There is though benefit to stripping it back to fundamentals. To borrow from a quote attributed to Goethe…

“Coaching has genius, power and magic in it.”

Oh… and I nearly forgot. The name of the organisation who ran that workshop in 2000?

Management Futures of course…!

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