Abintus https://www.abintus.co.uk Investing in your Line Managers Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:51:57 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 10 Signs You as a Leader Would Benefit from Coaching… https://www.abintus.co.uk/10-signs-you-as-a-leader-would-benefit-from-coaching/ Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:51:45 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3294 Tim Gallwey in his book ‘The Inner Game of work’ develops the equation Performance = Potential – Interference. We all have both potential within us, and at times, interferences. Interferences – those things that stop us from achieving our potential and delivering performance. As a manager or organisational leader, one of the following interference examples […]

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Tim Gallwey in his book ‘The Inner Game of work’ develops the equation Performance = PotentialInterference. We all have both potential within us, and at times, interferences. Interferences – those things that stop us from achieving our potential and delivering performance. As a manager or organisational leader, one of the following interference examples may not mean you need to undertake coaching. But a combination may mean you would benefit from spending time with a coach, exploring what is happening around you. Enabling you to then make clearer, healthier personal and work choices.

Everything is becoming urgent

Sometimes through poor planning, often through sheer workload, even the most predictable and routine of tasks it feels like you are struggling to get on top of it. People seem to be continually asking or approaching you to do things. This firefighting or as in Eisenhower’s matrix, it has become ‘highly important and highly urgent’ and is a critical situation. Critical for delivery, your performance, you as a people leader and your wellbeing. 

Feeling overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed can come from urgent work. It also arises from lack of confidence, poor relationships, existing anxiousness, how you are being led and your level of skills and knowledge. It can affect your emotions, physiology, and personal resilience. This results in reduced role effectiveness and efficiency, negative thoughts and self-perception amongst many impacts.

Feeling ineffective

Some weeks as a leader it can feel like you are ‘pushing water uphill’. No matter what you do it feels like you make no headway. No amount of planning, activities or focus helps. Even workplace conversations seem to be circular or not giving you what you need. This may be due to lack of clarity, understanding or even personal confidence and self perception. Either way those around you will sense your frustration. These feelings don’t dissipate, they accumulate. You may even experience confirmation bias and start looking for other areas you thing you aren’t being effective.

No clear path

It is common for roles, projects and pieces of work to be a little nebulous and lacking clarity. This can be due to how they are presented, planned or researched. It also manifests when change is occurring and when there are shifting priorities in the team or business. This causes frustration, uncertainty and can lead to ineffective or wrong decisions being made. Again performance will suffer, both yours and your employees. If you don’t have a clear path, how can you expect those reporting to you to have clarity?

Lacking confidence in stepping forward

Sometimes no matter how skilled or knowledgeable a leader you might be, confidence in roles, situations or with people is lacking. A senior leader or manager of a team is no difference. Starting a new project, engaging with stakeholders, developing the team, making decisions or developing a strategy. It may be pre-existing of confidence or based on recent experiences. It may be a ‘real’ lack of confidence or a perception. Either way they are unhealthy and damaging both short and long term.

Want to develop new understanding

You may be delivering and achieving in your role as leader, however there are times you might want to stretch yourself and develop further. This isn’t about going on more training. More about knowing, exploring and stretching yourself and who you are. The more experience you gain the more curious you become. Knowing more about your leadership and management, understanding how and why people respond to you in certain ways. Understanding why and how you think, feel and behave in certain ways. Then being able to apply more of this learning to your leadership.

As people progress and learn about themselves they often become more reflective. They analyse situations, relationships and experiences and again want to learn from them. Continually evolving in who they are and what they do.

Generally in a leadership or personal rut

Time served, lack of variety and development, poor motivation and lack of focus all can lead to feeling as though you are stuck in a rut. Others, seem engaged and are progressing but you just stay on the treadmill, day after day. Then realising this you then don’t know what’s causing it or how to get off the treadmill and run your own race. Sometimes the rut can seem so deep and insurmountable.

Wanting to stop making excuses

For some in their work and life they get to the point of realising they either procrastinate too often, or justify actions and decisions away. They see the impact this brings to their situation and upon others. How disabling and hindering it can be. They recognise there is a want to be different, gain traction and reengage with work, life and relationships. But where to start? How to bring focus and momentum?

Willing to invest time, resources and energy

Whilst there can be a financial cost, you may realise that putting time, energy and resources into personal development and change is a critical and valuable investment into self. Organisations often invest in more tactical training and development. But, personal life enhancing growth requires often different input and stimulus to achieve meaningful change. This investment, combined with a desire to change are powerful personal motivators and just need encouragement and non directional support.

A place for coaching…

When many of these situations arise people often don’t know where to turn, set about bringing change or who can best help them. These are often mindset, behavioural and personal change needs. One person’s advice or guidance may not suit their particular needs and wants. Coaching works by helping identify causes, ways forward, options, opportunities and steps forward. It give space and time to explore and examine. A coach will not tell or advise you. That’s not their job. Instead they will simply use their questioning, listening, exploration and people skills to get you to bring about your own change and momentum.

Ideally, line managers and leaders should be able to begin to fill this role for you, especially when the ‘issue’ is work based. Organisations however large are often lonely places. Sometimes, talking to an external coach provides a different experience and insight. They can provide more opportunities to develop open conversations, trust and relationships. This leads to more productive and transformational outcomes and successes.

So, if some of these examples resonate with you, then get in touch and let’s have a chat. No obligation. It might be the start of a new direct and dawn for you…

Nick Howell is a specialist in people development. With national experience across, finance, IT, public sector, charity, utilities and education, his focus is simply how to make people even better than they are already. For themselves, their teams and their organisations. He uses training and coaching to help people change and develop, attaining the goals and ambitions they seek. Get in touch today.

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Why you DON’T need coaching – a conversation. https://www.abintus.co.uk/why-you-dont-need-coaching-a-conversation/ Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:24:17 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3308 Some businesses and individuals are still 'anti' coaching or more old school towards it. Here we play with some common reasons.

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Let’s have a conversation and examine the reasons I still hear people throw up against using coaching or engaging with a coach. Let’s explore their thinking a little to realise the value coaching can bring.

“Nothing’s broken, everything is running smoothly, I’m doing ok”

Really pleased to hear that things are going well for you, that’s great news, it’s a good place to be isn’t it? 

Are the rest of the team feeling the same? Your strategy for the next 24 / 36 months is in place? How’s your leadership style holding up with the team? How are you maximising the team’s potential? What are you doing about examining the market place, competitors and changes in the industry? Happy with things just running smoothly..? What do you really want for the organisation, your teams and people? What would doing great look like for you? Tell me about your contingencies for when it’s not going smoothly.

“I am the boss, it’s not something I do”

Just the boss?

If we what swapped the phrase leader for ‘boss’, how might that change your view of coaching and you? How happy are you with what you do and how you do things in the business? It’s interesting you talk about being a boss simply from your perspective. What about being a boss from your employees, teams and stakeholders perspectives? What are their views on how you do things?

Tell me about the feedback you have sought from you top team about you? If you were looking back at yourself in 10 years-time, what would you have done differently? How do you want to be seen by your employees in the future? You say you don’t do coaching, but if you did, what areas would you want to develop? What ares might others need you to focus on?

“Coaching’s a fad, another shiny approach will be along soon”

Yes sure, coaching in its modern guise since the early 1990’s. But as an approach it’s been around since the 1830’s. But it’s still a fad right..? Even if it might be a fad I wonder what value there might be in learning more about yourself? Because that is all coaching is. Developing self-awareness to make better decisions for yourself and others. How do others in your industry view it? Who do you know who has got a coach, or has received coaching?

“It’s not as effective as learning something myself”

Sometimes, yes. How often have you learnt something and considered it from different perspectives? When did you last challenge what you learnt? How do you know you learnt the right thing? What’s the relevance of your learning to your business and people? How would you have benefitted in exploring that learning with another? How much of that learning have you transferred to your productivity? Did you reflect on what you learnt and what it means for you as a person, colleague, leader?

Within your learning how much have you explored your thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences as they affect both you and your employees.

“My manager never had one and he did ok”

Yes your manager may have done ok. In your opinion where do you think he could have been better? How did you want or need him to be stronger in as your leader? Do you want to be just ‘ok in your role’? Is that your legacy to the business and your people, to be known by others as just ‘ok’? What happens if you are just ‘ok’ every year, isn’t that really a loss longer term..? What’s stopping you?

“It’s too costly in time and money”

It’s true, coaching does cost, but not as much as you think. If you sat and added up all that time you have spent trying to work things out by yourself, what would it come to in money? How many things have not worked, but having another’s input might have reduced the likelihood of that happening? If a coach helped to develop or change many of the things frustrating you, what value would you put on that? If a coach helped to change how you felt, viewed people or situations, or helped you to solve you own issues, what would that bring you? What if a coach enabled you to maximise your employee’s expertise, and freed up time for you, how would that make you feel?

It doesn’t have to come from an external, though there is value there. You could be coached by your peers, or even your own manager – that’s cheaper. Coaching is only a short-term intervention, so the costs are short term. It’s about perspective and what’s important to you.

Coaching does have value

By exploring the thinking of those who might doubt coaching and its added value, we can begin to influence them a little more. We can begin to understand where their thinking comes from and how coaching can transform them as leaders. Sometimes thinking comes from ignorance, fear or being given poor previous information. In conversations demonstrating empathy can increase buy in and demonstrate coaching value. By identifying what ‘value’ means to doubters, we can align coaching and its opportunities to this.

Nick Howell’s focus is people, their development and their performance. He is passionate for coaching and the training of coaches to enable personal and organisational performance. He works across the country and sectors adding value to people and businesses. Want to have a chat about you or your team and where coaching might transform performance? Contact him now and let’s talk performance and development – nick@abintus.co.uk

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‘No go’ Coaching Questions https://www.abintus.co.uk/no-go-coaching-questions/ Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:58:06 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3315 Search the web (and this website) and you will find lots of articles about ‘good’, ‘fantastic ‘ and ‘effective’ coaching questions. We know questions are powerful for clients, raising awareness and self-discovery. Some questions though aren’t as effective and also bring risk into the coaching conversation. Here we explore some of these questions. Closed questions […]

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Search the web (and this website) and you will find lots of articles about ‘good’, ‘fantastic ‘ and ‘effective’ coaching questions. We know questions are powerful for clients, raising awareness and self-discovery. Some questions though aren’t as effective and also bring risk into the coaching conversation. Here we explore some of these questions.

Closed questions

Closed questions have a place in coaching. Have a place if deliberately used to obtain specific information. Problems arise here because people ask them by default. It is their natural way to ask questions, rather than using open ones. Coaches who don’t pay attention to their client’s words are also more likely to react with a closed question.

Closed questions provide a definite answer, they force the client to make choices and decisions. They allow the coach to check their understanding of what the client has said.

Coaches need to be very conscious in the coaching sessions and in their questioning. In doing so they are less likely to ask impromptu closed questions.

If a coach listens to their client, processes the words and message, (checks for understanding) when required they are half way there to keeping questions open. Next by thinking about what they have heard, then thinking about what they want to understand next from the client, they can then formulate relevant approaches.

Asking ‘why?’

In an earlier resource we explored the use of why. Whilst it can be helpful to explore client motivations. It is often seen as being a lazy question. In doing so it is more likely to elicit a short client response, requiring a more thoughtful question to tease out a more useful answer.

‘Why’ can also be question that raises conflict or emotion in clients.  They can feel they are being challenged over a view or situation. Giving thought to what you want to ask can transform a ‘why’ question.

Instead of ‘why did you decide to take that approach?’ Try ‘what was your thinking when you chose that route?’ or ‘What made you try that?

Leading questions

Leading questions are commonly asked in everyday life ‘when did you speak to Steve about this situation?’. Meaning, (from the manager) you should have spoken to Steve. They lead the client to a place the coach consciously or unconsciously thinks the should go to. 

Here the coach as options. Keep it generic ‘who did you speak to about this?’ or ‘what have you done about this?

Alternatively the coach can be broader, multiple choice in their approach – ‘when did you speak to Steve, Clare, Mark or Sarah about this?’ Or they can offer ‘extremes’, showing bi-polar options, ‘so what did you do here, speak to the stakeholders or just do some research?

Multiple questions

Some people quickfire or ask multiple questions. Several are asked of the client in one breath. The client doesn’t know if they are to answer the first one or last one. And, they have forgotten what the questions were in the middle.

This arises if the coach hasn’t properly thought about what it is they want to ask. So what happens is that they unconsciously ask an array of questions to cover all eventualities.

Listening, processing and pausing can help the coach to distill down the question they want or need to ask based upon what the client has said.

Statement / information shared before asking a question

Often what can happen is the coach rather than internally processing their thinking, instead they verbalise their thoughts. Then once verbalised they tag their question on at the end. This means that there is a lot of the coach’s narrative which the client has to listen to and process, before then being questioned. It is almost as if the coach wanted the client to understand their thinking, or to justify their upcoming question. This can be both confusing and frustrating for the client.

If the coach records (with permission) part of their session they will recognise themselves doing this, and possibly what is causing it. If the coach gives themself time to formulate the question this can help. there is not pressure or rush to come to the table with the client and ask.

Overthinking questions

On occasion coaches can ponder too long attempting to formulate the elusive ‘killer question’ that will hit the mark spot on. What ends up happening is the question they ask becomes overly complex. And, when asked to repeat the question the coach cannot remember exactly what they said.

Questions should be simple and clear to both parties. Practice short, simple ones until they become more natural. Write out some out so that they will become more familiar.

Rhetorical questions

These come out as part statement, part judgement and part emotional. It is unconsciously said and the coach isn’t expecting an answer from the client. Indeed the client isn’t given the space to be able to respond. A typical such question might be ‘Really, you took that approach with them?

Being well versed in with an array of open questions and listening well in the first instance will help avoid rhetorical questions.

Interpretive questions

These questions have overlap with paraphrasing. The client says one thing then the coach puts their own spin on it when they then ask their next question. So rather than reflecting that Clare finds it uncomfortable speaking with her manager. The coach might say ‘so, you hate speaking with your manager?’

By reflecting the clients words ‘uncomfortable speaking with your manager’, then saying, ‘tell me more about that relationship’. This avoids any form or summarising or interpretation.

Asking ‘no go’ questions often happens unconsciously when the coach falls back into old habits or their organisational approach to communication. Being able to maintain focus and be present with the client means they are highly likely to maintain an open question approach. One trainee coach I once worked with recognised that when she relaxed too much her questions were of a lower quality. 

Interested in learning more about coaching, or becoming a coach? Contact Abintus for an informal chat about how he might be able to support your individual coaching or your organisational coaching agenda.

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Coaching People Through Transition. https://www.abintus.co.uk/coaching-people-through-transition/ Wed, 12 Feb 2020 14:02:39 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3268 People confuse change with transition. We change things, we transition people. Coaching enables transition.

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Change versus Transition

The concept of change is often misused. It is used to encapsulate everything associated with it. Change isn’t transition and vice versa. William Bridges in his book Transitions: making sense of life’s changes presents a clear difference between the two. Change is a specific event, be it personal – new job, moving house, becoming a parent or getting married. In work, new processes, products, systems, re-structuring and ways of working all represent change. The latter are all DONE TO people. In this way change is relatively easy, buying software, creating a process or re-structuring the team. Transition is about how people respond to change that happens to them. What happens in their minds and to their behaviours as they go through it.

The change and transition differences are rarely recognised by those bringing about organisational change. Transition requires different approaches and attention.

Reasons change often isn’t as successful as it could be.

In planning change, a common reason it fails is its lack of proper people focus. The people element isn’t given as equal a focus as new ‘shiny things’ – software, planning the change project or the new structure. People are simply considered a part of the ‘process’. Communication, training, team engagement, listening to employees, coaching support are often only considered towards the end of the project lifecycle. 

Additionally, senior leaders and project teams spend months or years planning change. So they have time to mentally and physiologically adjust and transition themselves through it. When it comes to rollout, those the change affects are only given weeks or days to understand, accept, discuss, apply and then transition. The balance is wrong.

People need time, understanding and support to enable effective to transition to a new state. Too often these skills, abilities, time and the desire to do this are absent from those bringing in change. Transition isn’t fostered or enabled.

Despite the numerous change models that are advocated, many don’t give the people element a core focus. Models such as Kotter’s 8 Steps and ADKAR are more people centric. The use of any change model has to equally (if not more so) focus on people as it does on the change itself. As soon as any change team recognises that people transition is at the heart of any change activity this will influence how they approach and deliver it. 

Impact of change on employees

Change impacts on employees no matter how well it is implemented. It can create fear, uncertainty, anxiety, stress. It causes irrational behaviours and language. Ultimately it impacts upon performance. Yes some employees are more embracing and accepting of change and there is less of an impact, but these are often a minority.

Employees reactions to change are demonstrated well through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ grief / change curve and also Klaus Janssen’s Four Rooms of Change.

Coaching and coaching through transition will significantly increase employee’s abilities to work through and more successfully transition. Consequently, increasing the likelihood of success for the wider change work.

Coaching through transition

Coaching is the antithesis of the uncertainty created by change. It creates awareness, engagement, expression, communication, personal involvement direction and hope. It enables transition and, ultimately the change too:

  • Use coaching to create opportunities for discussion around the change. Using a coaching style use to facilitate conversations safely. Gently teasing out thoughts and feelings of employees.
  • Using the grief curve or four rooms of change within teams. Coaching out where people at and what they need to have and how they can move through the transition.
  • Create awareness in teams of how people as a team are experiencing the transition and how they can support each other
  • Coaching in 121 situations with focus on some or all of the above.
  • Work with individuals / teams exploring the change model being used and how they can contribute to the process.
  • Coaching to identify the roles employees can play in the change, directly or indirectly. This too will aid transition and give a feeling of control.
  • In change communication, a coaching style will show empathy towards employees and promoting openness.
  • Change agents who use coaching will directly impact people in their own work areas, helping them adjust to change.
  • Change stakeholders who apply coaching skills and style will show the ‘human face of change’. Especially where change affects jobs.
  • Coaching creates a picture of what ‘good’ in the change might look like for employees. Then, what initial steps to ‘better’ might be.
  • Similarly, the change team can add value to their roles by using coaching to challenge their thinking and approaches around the change process.

Why does coaching work so well in transition and change?

Coaching brings focus to and on employees, their agenda and needs, not the change leads / teams agenda. Having time and space to talk about the things giving employees concern. This is an important distinction.

Allowing employees to determine the conversation gives them more control in the situation which is happening to them. This is restorative for employees. 

It creates the opportunity for employees to fully understand, explore the situation they find themselves in. This non-judgemental conversation gives complete freedom to express what is going in inside of them. This cathartic process enable employees explore their situation. Then understand it and make more evidence based, healthy and rational decisions for them.

Coaching allows employees to utilise existing skills and experiences to inform and manage their current internal state and external situation. It gives them space to unpack and unpick the change as it affects them. Test ideas, map approaches and actions. This enables them to not only understand the change but potentially be part of it and contribute to it. Or, if they determine the change isn’t for them, they can consider, what that means for them and how they manage that.  In turn this allows them to develop tools to support their own resilience and wellbeing activities as they transition.

Finally, coaching employees through the Kubler-Ross curve, will shorten the time employees may spend on the curve. Similarly it will also reduce the extremes of feelings and emotions, whilst transitioning..

Manager as coach through transition

The manager is best placed to fulfil the coaching role. They know their people and how they are likely to respond to the change. They are ever present and able to use coaching in the moment, when it is needed. Working with individuals trust, clearer communication, open relationships and engagement will be built. The manager should be confidently versed in coaching and in its supporting tools and approaches.

A risk with manager as coach is that employee may not be as open and trusting as they would with an external coach or someone from another part of the business. They may see the manager as ‘part of the change process or change team’. To some degree proper contracting can lessen the likelihood of this. Discussing the coaching dynamic and equality of their coaching relationship, boosts trust. Empathising and disclosing will also bring employee engagement.

Manager’s should seek formal and informal, group and individual opportunities to talk and coach.

Change is ever present in business, the place and role of transitioning employees needs to be recognised, encouraged and supported. Coaching is fantastically placed to help employees and organisations alike.

If you have a key role in change in your organisation, especially if it directly relates to the people element, check out our courses and become a coach yourself. Or, look at our resources to add to your existing skills and knowledge.

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Appreciative Inquiry https://www.abintus.co.uk/appreciative-inquiry/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 17:48:00 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3264 A technique which focuses on the positives and possibilities of a situation or person, in order to achieve change.

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Appreciative Inquiry looks at change and situations from a positive perspective, doing more of what is already working, rather than trying to identify and fix problems.

Focusing on strengths

Problem solving works on the assumption there is a problem or assumption that needs to be changed or rectified, that there is a cause of the problem which needs to be analysed in order to fix the problem. Appreciative inquiry focuses on strengths and a process for facilitating positive change in people and organisations. It identifies on identifying and doing more of what is already working. It focuses on core strengths and using them to shape the future.

The focus is on existing strengths, achievements and successes. Aspects of the coachee that motivate them and getting positive outcomes as a starting point to achieve desired goals. The past is still considered but the focal point is to get to a more positive place. By the coach asking positive questions this creates a positive state of mind in the coachee. 

Four stages of appreciative inquiry

  • Discovery – identifying what is working well
  • Dream – the process of identifying what would work well in the future.
  • Design – finding a way of moving forward where positive change is seen in strategies, processes, systems, decisions and relationships
  • Destiny – encouraging action from discussion on discovery, dream and design

In reality the 4D’s look like this for the coach:


  • What’s happening generally at the moment?
  • What’s working well for you in relation to your topic area?
  • How is this helping you?
  • What does this bring to your role?
  • What have you learnt about yourself through this?
  • Tell me what have you done here?
  • What is it you are doing that is being helpful here?


  • How do you want this situation to be in the future?
  • What would this give you?
  • How would this help your situation?
  • What are your hopes for this situation?
  • If this was in place what would be happening around you?
  • How would you be performing and what behaviours would you be exhibiting?
  • How would you be feeling?
  • What would this bring you / others / the organisation


  • What needs to be in place to help you achieve this?
  • Who is there with the knowledge and experience to help you?
  • Where have similar things been done before? How did they achieve that?
  • How has the company attempted this before?
  • What skills do you have which could help you here?
  • What is required to be in place?
  • Where could you go to learn this or seek guidance?
  • What else matters here?


  • How will you approach this?
  • What needs to happen first?
  • What interdependencies are there?
  • Name other key actions
  • Which key stakeholders will you engage with first?
  • Which are the higher value actions for you?

By reading through these questions it is clear to see how these positive questions can influence coachees mindset around their situation, where they are going and how they get there.

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Heron’s Categories of Intervention https://www.abintus.co.uk/intervention/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 16:52:00 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3261 Heron's categories of intervention allow us to know when and how to intervene in given situations.

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Sometimes managers step in to ‘help’ their employees. Sometimes this is conscious. Other times managers don’t know they are slipping into this role. It is a default or unconscious act. When done responsibly this can be effective. It is also worth noting where coaching also should play a part. Jon Heron’s categories of intervention help provide a framework to determine the right intervention at the right time. And, for the right reasons!

Types of intervention

Heron notes 2 types of intervention available, which are broken down into 6 styles:

  • Authoritative intervention – PrescriptiveInformative and Confronting styles
  • Facilitative intervention – Cathartic, Catalytic and Supportive styles

Knowing the situation and needs of the person will help determine the appropriate intervention and style..

When talking about an ‘intervention’ Heron means ‘an identifiable piece of verbal or non-verbal behaviour that is part of the practitioner’s  service to the client‘.

Additionally, the framework enables us to self assess how we interact with people. Understand how we are received, know more about ourselves and also understand our coachees or clients.

Traditional coaching focuses upon more the facilitative intervention. However there is potential scope for dipping into the others – occasionally…

The 6 – Styles

Authoritative – prescriptive

Commonly used by managers, primarily as a default management style. It works on telling employees what to do. It is to the point and around the manager’s agenda and needs not the employees. The message contains direction and instruction, with little or no discussion or input from the employee. When prescriptive, managers need to be precise in their instructions. As it is an instruction, it needs to be acted on by the employee immediately for the full effect to be realized.

Is used where the employee has little experience of a task or situation. This style changes as their experience grows. It is highly unlikely that the coach will use the prescriptive style, as the coach’s role isn’t directing or instructing. However, situation’s very occasionally arise where this is useful.

Authoritative – informative

Next, informative concerns the passing information to the employee, which is needed for their task or role. It focuses on the manager having key experience of something or a situation. Without this vital information employees and teams will not be able to effectively complete tasks. The manager shares wisdom, enabling employees to work more independently. It is likely that the employee will have little choice as to receiving the information.

Again, coaches rarely use this informative intervention style. Except where the employee is putting themselves or others at risk, if they don’t have valid information. Or if the employee asks for the coach’s input. The coach ask’s if their can share an insight or piece of experience.

Authoritative – confrontation

The third intervention style, suggests is a more aggressive approach. It asks the employee to change in some way their work or approach. It is often perceived as challenging their working practices. As such, it will have an impact on the employee receiving the request. This style might be used to stimulate more independent thought processes.

Again, it is unlikely a coach will engage in this style. Instead, they will use questions to get the employee to realise a different approach is needed. However, confronting will sparingly be used as a form of challenge to the employee.

Facilitative – cathartic

Used when progress on work is slow and there is a degree of frustration. It allows the employee to share and express their thoughts, emotions and feelings. Once out, the employee or team move on, looking for other creative solutions.

Coaches confident in themselves and their practice will spend time creating the environment for this style to happen safely. Asking meaningful open questions. Teasing out and exploring feelings when appropriate. Coaches recognise the value in people being able to express and understand internal emotions and causes. Then, develop new courses of action. Coaches also use their body language to further encourage employees to express in situations. Either using it by itself or in conjunction with verbal encouragement.

Facilitative – catalytic

Coaches commonly operate in this way. It enables employees to learn for themselves, and not about providing answers. It creates an environment for them to reflect on performance and behaviours in order to uncover strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. This style focuses on the employee, putting them at the centre of the conversation.

Directive managers, rarely demonstrate this style and are unlikely to comfortably operate in this way.

Facilitative – supportive

Finally, this style helps develop employee self-esteem and feeling good about themselves. The employee is central in the conversation, reminding them of their strengths, and contributions. In doing so the employee is empowered and energized for themselves and others.

The coach maintains this style throughout their coaching approach and engagement. At the end of the coaching the coach reviews progress and provides feedback where appropriate.

There are times when managers need to intervene. But it is HOW they intervene and their intent behind this that has the most impact. Knowing employees and their needs enables the most appropriate intervention and style to be used.

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FUEL Coaching Model https://www.abintus.co.uk/the-fuel-coaching-model/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 15:07:26 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=3259 The FUEL model uses the coaches skills to explore the coachee's own unique situation before looking for solutions and actions.

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Background to the FUEL model

The FUEL model comes from by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett and explored in their book “The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow”.

Many coaches use ‘coaching models’ to help frame their coaching conversations, structure their questions and provide a simple process for the coachee. The FUEL model helps the coachee explore their own unique situation before identifying solutions and coming up with actions. In addition, it encourages the coach to use open based questions in their approach

The FUEL model is less specific than some coaching models, requiring the coach to have a good handle on strong, open questions. It is more suited to experienced and confident coaches. Or those who avoid leading questions and conversations.

F – Frame the conversation

This scene sets the conversation and enabling focus to be brought to the purpose of the conversation, how it will happen and what the client wants to achieve from it. Above all, it sets ground rules for the conversation process:

  • What do you want to discuss, and the reasons for this?
  • What’s the starting point?
  • Achievements from the conversation?
  • Anything to specifically talk about? Or no go areas?
  • Agree on areas and the coaching process

U – Understand the current state

Exploration with the client enables understanding of their current situation. Clarifying their perspectives and exploring actions, feelings, thoughts and impact, prior to coaching. Similarly, teasing out objective view points helps here.

  • What’s happening for you, that’s brought you to this point?
  • How and where are things progressing?
  • Risks / issues with current approach?
  • What is working well / not well currently?
  • Barriers / challenges you are facing?
  • How are you feeling / thinking about the situation?
  • Impact on you and other stakeholders?
  • What are the views of the other stakeholders?

E – Explore the desired state

Once an understanding of the current situation is obtained, the coach helps the client frame for themselves what they want the future situation to be like. Possibilities and opportunities are developed, that will help achieve the desired state. Finally, decisions are made on what to move forward with.

  • Describe for me your desired state.
  • What does this desired state look and feel like?
  • What will be happening in 6 months time that isn’t happening currently?
  • When you are there, what will others be saying about you / the situation?
  • This new state will give you what?
  • What needs to happen to get you there?
  • What will you need to do to achieve it?
  • Tell me about the approaches that might work here?
  • What are the possibilities?
  • How will your approaches be hindered?
  • What needs to happen to move this forward?

L – Layout a success plan

Finally, in the FUEL model, the actions are now identified, the client creates an action plan and steps. This focuses upon time bounded these actions.

  • Specifically, what actions need to happen to achieve your desired state?
  • What are the natural steps to make this happen?
  • First step? Second? And the next?
  • What is the natural flow to these steps?
  • What milestones will you build in?
  • Considering the timeframe for this, what times will be given to your steps?
  • Looking at it now, how achievable is the plan?
  • How are you feeling about your plans and the steps?
  • What support do you need and from whom?

In summary, any coaching model is an enabler of the coaching conversation and development. The FUEL model pushes more on the coach to develop a breadth of pertinent questions. It also specifically focuses on generating a picture of the desired future state. This creates more emotional engagement.

Found this resource useful? Contact Abintus to see how we can support you or your organisation in its coaching and leadership activities.

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Understanding different types of coaching https://www.abintus.co.uk/understanding-the-different-types-of-coaching/ Tue, 08 Oct 2019 17:02:56 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=1235 So many types of coaching out there. But what's the difference? Who are they for? A simple guide.

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Coaching is commonplace in many organisations. However, there is a multitude of types of coaching, each with slightly different purposes, clients and approaches. I attempt here to provide some clarity between the types of coaching and a purity to each. I recognise though, different coaches will have their own views on each…

It’s important that coaches are clear with potential clients about the type of coaching they offer, enabling clients to make informed choices to identify the best fit for their needs. Here we will focus on 5 types of commonly used coaching phrases :

  • Business Coaching
  • Performance Coaching
  • Executive Coaching
  • Workplace Coaching
  • Life Coaching
  • and Mentoring…

Business Coaching

Business coaching focuses on working with business leaders to help shape their vision, business goals and their strategy. Clarifying with the business leader where they would like to take the business and how to prioritise to achieve this. Helping the leader to create their business plans, objectives and activities.

Business coaches challenge business leaders thinking, focus, accountability and direction. They track the leader’s goals and KPI’s as they progress on their business journey.

The focus is primarily on business activities rather than leadership behaviours, though there might be some element of this as the leader uses ‘softer skills’ to be successful.

Business coaching also focuses on bringing a work life balance to business leaders, as well as challenge around different ways of maintaining and enhancing profit. Similarly, business coaches will share their experiences gained in running businesses. Helping diagnose issues, ways forward and how to maximise business opportunities.

Whilst business coaches may have a lot of experiences and expertise in business, they do not tell or instruct business leaders in what to do. Nor should they act in a consultant role.

Performance Coaching

Performance coaching may sound more suited for sports! However, performance coaching forms the majority of coaching that is happening in organisations. The purpose of this coaching is to be a shorter-term intervention with the aim of improving day to day organisational performance of individuals and teams.

Areas where performance coaching can be effective – link?

Coaching is not remedial. It can work with employees where their performance is below expectations. However performance coaching recognises that employees are performing, it’s just that they need to be performing better.

It recognises that employees have an existing skill sets and behaviours. However, something is preventing the employee from fully utilising these skills and behaviours. For some it might be about recognising the abilities they have and using them better (using their potential). For others it might be about removing some of those interferences to good performance – confidence, relationships, self-management, fear, previous experiences. Tim Gallwey in his book ‘The Inner Game of Work’ defined what he called the ‘performance equation’.

Performance coaching focuses on developing and challenging skills, behaviours, mindsets and approaches of employees. Creating goals with their clients, and working with them to transform their performance through focused questioning, challenging norms and developing creative ways forward.

Within performance coaching lies Leadership Coaching and Management Coaching. The process here is the same. However, the focus is upon particular competencies, behaviours and situations unique to these roles.

Workplace Coaching

Workplace coaching is more of a generic term encompassing performance and executive coaching. It often refers to the use of an internal coach, rather than external. It can also refer to the ‘manager as coach’ role that managers fulfil within their management style.

Executive Coaching

The clue is in the title here! This coaching is aimed at senior leaders or key senior contributors within businesses. The focus is around organisational performance and development with a strong element of personal and leadership included. As the latter two often influence the former. The coach brings greater awareness to the person, progress and behaviours. They focus leaders on their organisational, leadership and people roles as they relate to goal setting, personal change and development.

Executive coaching deals with the unique complexities that senior leaders face. In order for them to make more informed decisions around organisational development and their leadership.

Understanding leadership to achieve deeper personal insight and application. In order to increase their effectiveness and transfer learning to organisational and people growth.

This type of coaching may touch on elements as identified in Business Coaching.

Life Coaching

Life coaching takes a more holistic approach to people. It is mostly not set in a workplace context. The focus here is upon personal development, growth and change. Helping people to identify and achieve personal (life) goals and direction. Identifying obstacles and challenges, discovering ways forward.

The coach here facilitates discussion, inspires and looks to develop internal confidence and motivation for the person.

Finally, Mentoring…

Yes you are right, it isn’t a type of coaching and that’s the whole point. Many people, organisations (and even some coaches!) confuse the two. Coaches and mentors may well share a similar skillset, but their focus is very different.

Coaching is focused on improving shorter-term employee and team performance.

Mentoring is a longer-term activity. A client will work with a mentor because they have credibility (experience) in a particular role, organisation or field. Typically time spent here will focus on areas of leadership, career or following a particular specialism path. Mentoring is more about longer term aspirations.

These days types of mentoring includes – peer to peer, women in leadership, retirement, graduate and talent mentoring.

In summary, coaching is a powerful development approach and tool. Coaches need to be clear on the type of coaching they offer and clients need to find the best fit for them. Hopefully I have made the field of coaching a little clearer…

Interested in finding out more or becoming a coach? Contact Abintus today and have a chat with us. Check out too our coaching courses

Nick Howell is a qualified coach, coach trainer and leadership specialist. He has worked with thousands of leaders and manager of all levels. Developing their skills, knowledge, behaviours and mindsets to make a difference to their people and organisations.

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Avoiding the ‘Peter Principle’ through coaching https://www.abintus.co.uk/avoiding-the-peter-principle-through-coaching/ Tue, 08 Oct 2019 10:02:52 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?p=1183 We want the best people to progress. Coaching makes the likelihood of success greater.

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Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull wrote their book The Peter Principle 1969, but it is still as valid today.

This simply states that “every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”. So, if someone is good at their job, they’ll be promoted into a role that demands different skillsets. Then if they’re good at the new job too, they will be promoted again. This requiring another set of skills. Finally, one day, they will reach a job for which they are wholly unsuited.

Some believe in the principle, others doubt it. However, how often do you see or hear about a high performing IT, sales or specialist being promoted to a team leader or managerial role. You then hear that this same person subsequently is struggling with the transition and the same performance is not present. Classic Peter Principle.

Maybe you have been on the receiving end of this yourselves, or seen it in colleagues?

Peter Principle Options

In this situation there are options:

  • Sack them – but their poor performance in the new role isn’t wholly their fault, their line managers have a hand in it too.
  • Wait for them to resign and move on. But there is a huge risk and cost associated with that
  • De-mote them back to what they are good at. Psychologically and perceptually how will that impact upon their performance and how they view themselves as future managers?
  • Train and coach them – possibly a win:win..?

The sad thing is the Peter Principle can be easily avoided and with little effort and time. How many of you have fully invested the time and energy in preparing people for new roles.

Coaching to avoid the Peter Principle

The steps to reducing the Peter Principle are very straight forward. They are also key tenents of your own leadership function. All should be underpinned by coaching.:

  • In recognising their high performance and skills currently, discussing what is needed for their new future state.
  • Understanding how they are feeling about ‘stepping up’ into a management role.
  • Identifying development needs before they are needed and attending to the priorities.
  • Exploring what they need from you as their line manager
  • Giving people your time and experience
  • Reinforcing belief in in them for their new roles
  • Creating a culture of approachability for them
  • Allocating responsibility before it is formalised
  • Coaching the person through their transition
  • Coaching them to establish themselves in their new roles
  • Enabling them to set the agenda in your conversations
  • Not trying to ‘jump the hurdles for them’ that they come across.
  • Make monthly one to ones as much about them as about their performance.

Coaching is key to avoid the Peter principle. Yes you can tell them what to do, but that only stays in their short term memory. Coaching not only provides the support on their terms, but also facilitates deeper learning and embedding.


There is the philosophy in life that by helping others you actually end up helping yourself too. This is true when reducing the likelihood of the Peter Principle.

A leader who coaches someone to and through a new role has an impact wider than on just one person. They begin to transform their own approach to leadership. They build trust with not just the new line manager but others too. There is role modelling of best practice to other line managers. The new manager will begin to impact upon team and individual performance quicker. The leader will be developing and transferring their own coaching skills. Their style will impact upon the culture of the wider team. Perceptions of others towards the line manager will change, as they see engaging behaviours happen.

Leadership self reflection

  • So having read this article, what do you recognise about yourself that you could do to reduce the Peter Principle in your area?
  • What have you not done in the past towards your new managers that you could have done differently?

Abintus help leaders and managers become more effective in their own performance and getting the best from others. We do this through tailored training and coach development. Click here to see when our next coach training courses are happening.

Nick Howell has worked with many leaders. His mission is simple, to help leaders learn and develop to be the best they can before themselves and their teams. He uses knowledge gained these experiences to inform and develop leaders, through his articles, coaching and training practice.

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The PRACTICE Coaching Model https://www.abintus.co.uk/the-practice-coaching-model/ Mon, 07 Oct 2019 12:51:28 +0000 https://www.abintus.co.uk/?post_type=resources&p=1224 A coaching model which combines examining the problem and a solution focus.

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Abintus Coaching Resources

This PRACTICE model by Stephen Palmer combines problem identification and a solution focused approach. A simple and logical model for coaches to use.


This PRACTICE model originated from work done by Wasik (1984) who developed a 7 step problem solving model. Palmer subsequently adapted this to form PRACTICE. He utilised solution focused and implementation methods first identified by Jackson and McKergow (2007).

The use of scaling is a common feature of this model to check in and understand where the coachee currently is and where progress is being made.

Problem Identification

The purpose here is to get clarity and understanding on the problem the coachee brings.

  • What is the area you wish to talk about in the session today?
  • What is the problem or issue you would like to bring to our conversation?
  • Tell me exactly what is happening for you around the problem?
  • How will you know if you have been successful in changing the situation?
  • Using scaling, 0-10, where are you today in being able to solve the problem?

Realistic, relevant goals

Developing here specific goals relating to the identified problem. Can be SMART in nature if required.

  • What is the coachee wanting to get from the session?
  • What do they want to be different?

Alternate Solutions Generated

Opportunity to identify a range of creative solutions. Different to approaches previously considered.  Capturing these array of solutions for scrutiny.

Consideration of consequences

Examination of what might happen. Consequences can be both negative and positive. Important to consider from both sides to be able to make an informed decision by the coachee.

  • What is the effectiveness of each solution?
  • Apply scaling to each of the solutions

Target most feasible solutions

  • What stands out for the coachee in terms of the best fit solution for them?
  • Most practical?
  • Given time, resources, ability and opportunity which way forward do they want to take?
  • How comfortable do they feel with the different solutions?

Implementation of chosen solutions

Chunking down the solution into bite size pieces in order to make simple steps forward. Breaking the steps down should be led by the coachee as they will be actioning them.


Reviewing the success of the solution and process. Scaling used to gain a more quantitative measure form the coachee.

An examination of what has been learnt and gained from the process for the coachee. What have they learnt about themselves, the situation and moving forward.

Coach checks in to see if there is anything else the coachee wants to discuss or explore.

The PRACTICE model is logical and straight forward. It balances both examining the problem as well as generating new ways forward. It creates opportunity for the coachee to test each of their solutions as to its validity for them.

The flip side of the model is that it gets the coachee to focus on solutions. This can create a limited mindset for the coachee, rather than thinking ‘options’ or ‘possibilities’ which might lead to solutions.


Jackson, P.Z & McKergo, M. (2007), The Solutions Focus: Making coaching and change SIMPLE. London. Nicholas Brearley.

Wasik, B. (1984), Teaching parents effective problem solving: A handbook for professionals. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.

Any coaching model should be seen as an enabler of the coaching conversation If you have found this resource useful, contact Abintus to see how we can support you or your organisation in its coaching and leadership activities.

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