In an interview for my upcoming book about internal coaching, an internal coach for a large company commented that an internal coach serves as the “soft spot” for the organization.
In a corporate setting that’s often focused on tasks, strategies, visions, outcomes, goals, and the bottom line, the coach is the human side. Coaching is where people can say, “Here’s what I’m feeling,” and “Here’s what I’m struggling with.”
Even in the non-profit realm where you’re dealing with people’s souls and spirits, when you’re working towards cultural change and – again – that bottom line, the human touch is just as much a soft spot.
Yes, we do want to talk about goals and visions, and moving towards them – all of those external things – but also who the client is as a human. Remember that we’re coaching the person, not the problem. This is a broader approach that’s more about shifting the person’s perspective.
Internal coaches frequently emerge from within the organization. We train managers and supervisors and turn them into coaches. They’ve traditionally been “hardline” people and we soften them.
The perception of coach as soft spot can sometimes go too far when clients see us as their friend. Coaches must be attentive to any potential blurring of boundaries that can affect the coaching.
Being a soft spot is not about being soft in the sense of coddling or enabling. It’s about being in the moment and seeing the person before you as a human with feelings and emotions – head, heart, and hunch, coaching involves all three.
In an infant, the two soft spots on the skull are there to allow the skull to be molded during birth. In our clients’ world of external goals, deadlines, and strategies, being a soft spot allows them to be molded and developed as well.
Coaches, remember that we’re the soft spot. Yes, we have goals and we want to drive people forward, but ultimately we’re developing human beings.
Clients, whether you’re using an internal coach or an external coach, you’re not just there to attain your goals. Remember to show up as a whole human being, and speak about what’s on your mind and your heart. Let yourself be developed.
The longer I’m a coach, the more I see that it’s all about human development. How do I help this person get to the next level? That requires a soft spot. There may be times when it requires other things, but this will always be a key part of coaching.
P.S. Stay tuned for more updates about the new book. As we build the set of guiding principles of internal coaching that will be at its core, “coach as soft spot” will definitely be part of them or perhaps one on its own.