Our coaching model is aligned with Ghandi’s oft-cited quote: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” When we truly begin to understand this dynamic, we recognize that hopes and plans to alter the external environment depend on changes in our internal environment. We help our coaching clients learn how to shift something in them (“in here”) that will change something in the world (“out there”).
Our approach to coaching comprises two primary activities:
- Teaching new models for thinking and acting, and
- Creating practice and reflection opportunities for clients to develop and reinforce new skills, and to see and reflect on their current behavior and impact on others and situations.
Teaching new models
By “model” we mean a structured, rigorous way of seeing and deliberately changing our own thinking and behavior.
For example, we teach the Four Player model of conversation, in which people’s actions in conversation are viewed as one of four “plays,” 1) Move: provide direction or vision, 2) Follow: support and follow through on a proposed direction, 3) Oppose: bring differing views and approaches, and 4) Bystand: offer perspective and context.
Each of the “plays” that people enact has strengths and weaknesses—especially if people habitually get stuck in one or two kinds of moves. The Four Player model helps our coaching clients see how they are contributing to successful or dysfunctional conversations, and therefore make adjustments in their behavior to achieve productive interaction.
Creating practice and reflection opportunities
Learning new models is a necessary step in changing our thinking and behavior, but by itself it is not enough. Research in psychology, organizational behavior, and cognitive neuroscience shows that consistent practice is essential for establishing new habits of thought and action. From the very early stages of a coaching engagement, we guide clients in creating deliberate opportunities for practice and reflection. We help people decide where they want to practice a new skill, try it out, report back on what happened, and reflect with the coach on what they learned and what they see as opportunities for improvement. We provide a safe and professional environment where people can engage this cycle of learning, practice, and reflection to permanently shift their patterns of thought and action.
Our coaching philosophy: transactional vs transformational coaching
We engage people in two different kinds of coaching: transactional coaching and transformational coaching.
Transactional coaching involves an agreement to move from point A to point B, to do something better—often something outside of oneself. Transactional coaching might involve helping a coachee be more strategic in managing an organization or convincing a client to sign a major contract. These skills are important and necessary for achieving concrete organizational results. We routinely do transactional coaching with our clients.
A distinguishing feature of Dialogos coaching is that we work not only on transactional skills with people but at the transformational level as well. Transformational coaching involves a fundamental shift inside a person, a metamorphosis of self and of relationships and circumstances in one’s life. Transformational shifts mean that coachees are able to sustain change in their life after the coaching engagement, without the guidance of the coach. When a coachee begins to act consistently in a different way when presented with a challenging situation, we know we have been successful in working transformationally with them.