Coaching World Issue 7: August 2013 - Page 9

Adult development theories ... … are evidence-based. Over the past four decades, data has been collected from tens of thousands of individuals on how they make meaning of their experiences; i.e., how they tell their stories. The two primary ways to assess an individual’s stage of development are a sentence completion test, such as the Maturity Assessment Profile (MAP), or an interview-based instrument, such as the Subject-Object Interview (SOI). Today, these tools and others are being pioneered in the field of leadership development by notable researchers including Jennifer Garvey Berger, Susanne Cook-Greuter, William Joiner, Stephen Josephs, Otto Laske and Bill Torbert. And that’s a strong reason for you to consider this theoretical framework: It is evidenceand research-based, highly applicable, and practical. … define transformation. Theories of adult development give you a concrete, specific way to define transformation. When clients develop new skills, competencies and/or knowledge without changing the way that they make meaning of their experience, it is referred to as “growth.” When clients change the way they make sense of experience by taking a wider view, evincing the capacity to see more complexity, seeing in genuinely new ways and demonstrating the ability to tolerate more ambiguity, it’s called “transformation.” When you have at least a hypothesis about whether the client’s work is growth or transformation, it enables you to better discern the necessary balance of support and challenge, and thereby meet the client where he or she is. … reframe resistance and minimize self-criticism. How often have you judged a client as “resistant?” Clients who are, in the words of developmental psychologist Robert Kegan, “in over [their] heads,” are being asked to perform in ways they do not yet have the capacity for and might not even understand. In other words, what you see as “resistance” might instead be evidence that your client’s capacity to see, understand and take action is not the same as your capacity—evidence that you are expecting too much. Understanding the hallmarks of meaning-making for each developmental stage further enables you to meet clients where they are, as opposed to where you think they ought to be. This, in turn, invites compassion for your client. By offering stage-appropriate assignments, you might find that clients’ resistance dissolves. On the other hand, if a client is at a later developmental stage than you, you might dread sessions for a different reason: You don’t know what you can offer a client who seems to “have it all together.” You might even wonder why in the world she chose you to be her coach. In such situations, the masterful application of foundational coaching principles—deep listening, creating a safe space and asking powerful questions—is critical to be in service of the client. You might even want to consider referring your client to a later-stage colleague. ... aid selection of stage-appropriate tools and practices. We tend to offer our clients coaching tools and exercises that align with our own stage of development. Think about your own go-to tools. Do you use valuesclarification exercises? Goal setting? Meditation practices? Journaling? Frequently, tools well-suited to clients at one developmental stage will be rejected by clients at another stage. Coaches need the ability to discern which tools and practices will work for each client, and to recognize the futility of a one-size-fitsall approach. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE > Coaching World | August 2013 9