Everyone engages to a certain extent in self-coaching. Teams too.
Whenever it happens it is because people notice that the results, they are achieving are not quite what they are trying to achieve. In other situations, there is something that feels uncomfortable to them that they seek to resolve.
In many cases, it works well.
But there are limitations to this approach.
A colleague was sharing with me that his team and he have been working on their positioning for the last few years. He explained that it is taking much longer than he expected. He finds himself regularly triggering questions to engage the team in the task. In the process, he is becoming frustrated and feeling lonely pushing the task without seeming to be able to get it done with the team.
It’s the typical situation in which a team or an individual needs external support.
This is even more true when the task the team is not getting done belongs to their core competence.
The old saying that “the shoemaker always wears the worst shoes” originated in the idea that a shoemaker was poor and couldn’t afford to do for himself what he was doing for his customers. There still is truth in this saying, however, today it is more a question of time and vulnerability.
An extra competent team knows how long the process can take. Consequently, they might fear that spending that much time for themselves is beyond the resources available to them. In the dialogue with the team, it is their high level of competence that is at stake. They may seek to protect it by avoiding exploring the areas in which they have doubts. It makes them focus on the areas in which they feel certain assuming that it is sufficient for them to achieve the desired result.
What they are missing out on here, is that there is a fundamental difference in applying one’s method to others. Whenever they ask a client a question, they continue to ask questions until they found an answer that seems clear. It’s a process in which they may not always realize how much their client is in doubt.
The value they are serving their clients with often isn’t to come to the answer, that’s the result. The real value lies in their ability to help others navigate uncertainty and doubt.
That is where self-coaching is so difficult. Being able to navigate oneself through uncertainty and doubt requires a level of honesty most of us find hard to stick to. Especially when it touches a zone of vulnerability one prefers to protect. Seeking to protect oneself is a natural reaction when there is a risk of confusion that becomes overwhelming.