Coaching With Class In The Outstanding Organization …

Coaching MontageFor several reasons, I pay attention to any discussions about coaching … especially the how-to-do-it conversations.  

I find many who confuse coaching with advice-giving or counseling, and some who only think in terms of showing someone how to do something, then expecting them to do it themselves.  Some think coaches are just mentors with another title.

Okay, sometimes coaches advise and the coaching relationship may often require more emotional intelligence than the average relationship. Coaching also definitely has to do with helping someone do something or  sometimes serving in a mentor role.

Those coaching approaches which incorporate a strong awareness of adult learning principles are most effective, in my opinion.

In The Outstanding Organization, Karen Martin considers the role of coaching and coaches, as part of her discussion of the importance of practice in building discipline.

Karen identifies five levels of adult learning.  The first two involve knowledge acquisition and the next three involve the application of that knowledge.  Here are the five levels with some brief comments:

Level 1:  General Awareness – the learner knows something contextually and at a basic level.

Level 2:  Deep Understanding  – the learner knows and can explain the deeper concepts behind the contextual knowledge.

Level 3:  Beginning Skill Development – the learner can use basic skills with much coaching support.

Level 4:  Advanced Skill Development – the learner can use advanced skills with minimal coaching support.

Level 5:  Master Status – Advanced understanding, skills, and proficiency.  The learner is now the coach.

Karen correctly notes that this is not a linear process, but a looped process, with ever-increasing development of skills.  As the earlier levels are solidified, learning in the later levels increases.

“.. good coaches have to adapt their behavior to the needs and maturity of the learner.”

Effective coaches have mastered two distinct, but highly related functions:  that of teacher, where the emphasis in on telling more than asking and that of coach, where the emphasis shifts to asking ever increasingly thoughtful questions to “assess learning and build confidence.”

Not surprisingly, Karen knows that most people in positions of leadership and responsibility are better (or at least more comfortable) telling than asking.

She also knows how to bridge this skill gap, as part of the overall strategy to develop the organization’s problem-solving ability … but you’ll have to read the book to learn more about that:)

Still enjoying this fully-loaded learning experience titled The Outstanding Organization in the Heartland ….


Author, speaker, and consultant, Karen Martin, provides practical strategies and tools for building an Outstanding Organization. The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon


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  1. Pingback: Skilled Advice Seeker « Life is Mysterious

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