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Developmental Coaching for Sustainable Change

Types of Coaching

Coaching can be divided into two types, performance coaching and developmental coaching. All coaching, whether it is life coaching, executive coaching, or personal coaching falls into one of these two categories.

Performance Coaching

Most coaching is based on a performance model. This means that the focus is almost exclusively on actions and behaviours. In this coaching model, the coach talks to clients about goals and what they want to achieve. Together they develop a time frame and create an action plan.  Then the coach is responsible for holding the clients accountable. This type of coaching looks at change through the lens of behaviours.

Developmental Coaching

A more advanced alternative to the performance based model is called developmental coaching.  In this model, change is brought about by modifying actions and behaviours through a heavy focus on the client’s inner game. The inner game goes beyond the external actions and behaviours to look at mindset, emotions, beliefs, and the framework of personality governing those things. Developmental coaching affects change from the inside, compared to performance coaching which primarily changes the outside only.

Downside of Performance Coaching

In performance coaching, this external only change is destined to fail unless the change you want to make is purely technical. This means the change is clearly defined, you know what you need to do, you make a plan, and you see it through. Most people though, need to make adaptive changes, not technical changes. Adaptive changes require you to adapt to a new way of thinking in order for the change to last.

Take, for example, someone who wants to lose weight.  If thoughts of exercising and going to a gym cause discomfort, these negative associations could prevent the person from sticking to an exercise regime.  At the same time, the person may have a very comforting relationship with food. Technical change in this situation involves a workout plan and a diet. The change will only last only for as long as there is someone holding the person accountable.  As soon as the accountability is removed, the person will revert back to old habits and behaviours because the relationships with the gym and food have not been changed. These types of relationships prevent lasting change and sabotage people as they work to achieve their goals.

Developmental Coaching is the Next Level

Developmental coaching is about changing your beliefs and the framework of personality that governs the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are disabling you. Developmental coaching can break through the relationships that are holding you back. If you want to create a lasting change, you need to change your inner game because it is your inner game that drives your outer game.

Let’s look at another example that people often seek coaching for, which is the fear of public speaking. If your relationship to others is one that is based on fear of judgment and a fear of speaking up, your inner game is going to affect your outer game, preventing you from giving your best when delivering a speech.  Your internal framework will be looking for judgments that are not there, and no amount of behaviour change or practicing will change this.  You may very well have all of the skills necessary to deliver an incredible speech, but you are so frightened that you cannot perform. The issue, in this case, is not the ability to speak in public; it is your relationship to it.

Adapting Your Framework for Lasting Change

Developmental intervention is the only way to effect truly sustainable change that lasts.  This requires understanding and changing your internal framework, which cannot be done alone.  You need a coach that can help you see your blind spots.  Developmental coaching is the best way to identify and change your framework to free yourself from what has been holding you back.  The ultimate objective of developmental coaching is to change behaviours in order to bring about lasting change.


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