Coaching project managers – light at the end of the tunnel?

There are 2 wonderful things that have happened to me this week.

The first is that my car key turned up 3 days after I lost it – and it still works after sitting in the wet grass next to our drive for all that time!

Much more importantly, I explained about project management coaching on Monday to a senior manager in a large organisation, and  they agree it’s a good thing and they should have it!

After my previous post on why it’s such good value, it was great to be heard.

Attending  a session at the BCN on Situational Leadership (Ken Blanchard’s work) recently, provoked a discussion last night with a friend and colleague who’s a highly-qualified coach. This revealed a potential issue with the term “coaching” itself, in terms of attracting customers for coaching PMs.

In Blanchard’s model, Coaching is the name given to the quadrant where both direction and supporting behaviours are high i.e. the “coach” is both encouraging the “coachee” to do what they can better, but also provides advice and direction to ensure the job gets done. With 30 years experience, this is where I operate; part consultant, part teacher.

However, many schools of coaching thought do NOT operate in this quadrant, their coaching is non-directive, and falls in Blanchard’s “Supporting” quadrant, with high levels of supporting, and no direction. Confusing, isn’t it? This might be OK for CEOs, but is of limited value to accelerating project success through better-performing project managers. If I thought coaching would be non-directive, I wouldn’t buy it for PMs.

Labels have huge power, terminology is always a risk – the benefit of many methodologies is simple to provide everyone with a common language – and the area of coaching and mentoring is particularly fraught.  I even coined a new term for my offering, but no one understood that either.

It’s important to power through the misconceptions to deliver a true picture;

Report card: C- must try harder!


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