When it comes to being a powerful coach, ‘integrity’ is something I have found to be crucial. When using this word, I am actually referring to BOTH it’s two definitions.
1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
2. The state of being whole and undivided.
I will take these one at a time.
++ Having Strong Moral Principle ++
I never took a formal coaching training, so I never signed up not to bring ‘my stuff’ into a coaching dynamic. In fact, I actually completely disagree with the idea that as a coach we should remain inert and neutral. I disagree with this for two reasons.
Firstly, because it is impossible. We might ‘think’ we are being neutral, but our biases will always leak out of us in ways we don’t realise – our voice tone, our facial expressions, our choice of questions and what we focus on, etc.
Second, I believe the greatest gift we have to give the world is who we uniquely and most genuinely are. To attempt to act as an inert, neutral, unbiased instigator of insight is to suppress those things that we most value.
Instead, I coach with an agenda.
My agenda is to create a world where people are more loving, more open, more individuated, and more psychologically, socially, emotionally and spiritually developed. This agenda is both explicit and implicit in that I tell my clients this AND it plays a role in directing everything we create together.
Being that my agenda is explicit, people only work with me if their values match mine. Shared values make great partnerships.
It is not my experience that it matters WHAT my moral principles are. There are some very powerful coaches out there that have moral principles diametrically opposed to mine. Over the past six years as a coach, mine have also changed quite a bit.
I find that simply HAVING principles and STANDING for them is what creates my coaching as powerful. My moral principles today center around things like love, service and wholeness.
Having moral principles is one thing. Having STRONG moral principles, however, brings us to the second definition of integrity.
++ Being Whole & Undivided ++
For me, being ‘whole and undivided’ means I have total alignment between the following four points:
1. My deep inner knowing.
2. My consciously engaged thinking.
3. My spoken words.
4. My actions.
When I have alignment along these points, who I am at the deepest level is aligned with the thoughts I believe in, which is then expressed by what I say and then is followed up by my actions. This is generally how I aim to create everything. It is also how I have experienced creating the most powerful impact as a coach.
At a very basic level, being aligned in this way creates a congruence that fosters a trusting coaching relationship. Much more than this though, when I am able to consciously acknowledge my deepest knowing (be it fear or love), and express that knowing, I am accessing my strongest ability to reflect. When I am being ‘whole and undivided’, I am thus being the most powerful mirror I can be for my client. Any breakdown in my integrity, between any of the four points listed above, is an immediate reduction in my impact on my client.
In the moments when I say I will do things and then don’t follow up with action, in those moments when I entertain thinking that is superficial or ‘all in my head’, in those moments when I hold back from speaking the thoughts I feel are true – the impact I have on people immediately drops.
I can literally feel the power drain out of me when I lack integrity.
In this sense, I take integrity as a kind of ‘structural’ integrity. If I want to be a support system for the people I am coaching, then I want to be the kind of support system that will carry the weight of the work we are doing – no matter how heavy it is. My aspiration is not to be like a rope bridge with wooden planks, it is to have structural integrity like the Golden Gate Bridge.
This is the kind of structural integrity and power I want to create for people.
In addition, integrity is not something that I consider only during my coaching sessions. Be it with my clients, my wife, my family and friends, strangers on the street or even the private moments with my own self, I consider integrity in all of these circumstances to be equally influential on my power as a coach.
*** Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself ***
1. What are my moral principles?
2. Do I coach with an agenda? If I did, what would it be?
3. Where in my life am I not standing strong in my moral principles and how might this be leaking power from my coaching?
4. Between the four points of deep knowing, engaged thinking, words spoken and action taken, where might I be lacking structural integrity?
5. Where else in my life do I know I am lacking integrity and thus leaking power as a coach?