Practical activities from Mapping Motivation
Welcome back for the fourth instalment of a new series of articles in which we use practical exercises to explore motivation and more. You can find the first article, which explores Roots of Motivation, here. In the previous article, we discussed the Roots of Engagement. Today, we’re shifting the focus back to the individual and examining how Coaching is interrelated with Motivation. Unlike the previous three articles, rather than beginning with an exercise, we’ll instead lay down the foundations of context and then guide you towards a powerful practical exercise at the end that might just help you discover your inner coach.
As stated in the introduction to Mapping Motivation for Coaching, “[coaching] now has become a mainstay process for developing people in business and in their personal lives. Indeed, coaching and coaches have become ubiquitous.” However, despite the significant growth of coaching in the last 25 years, the idea of a coach is nothing new, and has ancient origins in the concept of a “mentor” or “tutor”.
The word “mentor” is derived from Homer’s Odyssey: Mentor is the wise friend of Odysseus who acts as a guide and teacher to Odysseus’s son, Telemachos, though in actuality Mentor is the goddess Pallas Athene in disguise. Many of the Greek mythological heroes possessed a guide or teacher of some kind, often with divine or magical lineage, whose role was to educate them not only in the ways of war but also wisdom and courtesy. This role of the mentor, however, was not merely the province of myth. In ancient Rome, tutors (the Latin word meaning “a watcher, protector, guardian”) were so highly esteemed, despite often being slaves, that noble families left their children’s care and education entirely in the tutor’s hands. The modern coach, of course, is rarely responsible for children, but the principle of acting as a dedicated “guide” to an individual remains. The roots of coaching, therefore, run very deep, and carry with them great responsibility for shaping a person and facilitating them to reach their highest potential.
But how do coaches achieve this? And why is a coach different from, for example, a teacher or a therapist? In our view, coaching describes a very specific dynamic (we have adapted our definition from Professor Nigel MacLennon’s powerful one):
“Coaching is a planned intervention(s) by one person (the coach) for another (the client) in which the central purpose is either to motivate, enable, and improve the performance of the client in a specific area or for a particular task, or similarly to motivate, enable, and improve their capacity for sustained and progressive personal development.” —Mapping Motivation for Coaching, “Coaching Questions”, p12.
The key word, here, as you have probably guessed, is motivate. That is the difference between a coach and these similar but distinct roles. Indeed, though the ancients did not possess the word “motivate”—it’s a relatively new construction—Gregory Nagy observed, “a mentor is someone who instills a heroic mentality in somebody.”What could more accurately describe the effect of high motivation than that? We see this “heroic mentality” reflected in the modern day in those who are extremely highly motivated. All things become possible to those who are fired up and fully energised, and their physical and mental resources seem limitless to the point they appear like demigods or heroes to those without the same level of motivation.
Of course, we discussed how Leaders also have a responsibility to motivate their Teams in articles. However, the role of a Coach is different in that their attention is focused on the development of a particular individual. Thus, whereas the Leader looks to guiding the flock, the Coach acts as a personal guardian angel, divine emissary, and wise counsellor to a single person. There is overlap between these two skillsets, but they are not the same.
The Leader required four (plus one!) skills to be effective. Teams required four traits to distinguish them from an ordinary “group”. The coach, however, operates on a different basis, instead positioning themselves upon a cruciform pair of continuums that encompass the four major dimensions of the coach. Note, we still have the magic number four! However, we arrive this number via an entirely different route.
The continuums are support versus challenge.
And empathy versus objectivity.
The 4 Dimensions of Coaching from Mapping Motivation for Coaching
If you overlay these in the cruciform, then you get the four dimensions of coaching.
These four dimensions: support, challenge, empathy, and objectivity create four roles: The Motivator, The Goal-Setter, The Friend, and The Observer. There is insufficient space here to unpack each of these roles in great detail, but no doubt you can already take a guess how they apply to coaching. A coach must, after all, motivate, as we have already discussed. They must help their clients set and reach goals. They must offer comfort and support. And they must remain an objective observer who can, at times, bring their client back to reality, and cut through the subjective fog.
But now, at last, we come to the practical exercise—and maybe a moment of self-discovery!
This activity comes from Chapter 1, Activity 1.3, page 14.
Give yourself a score out of 10 in each of the four dimensions. A score of 1 means that you barely have that element whereas 10 indicates that you have a superabundance of it. Do this quickly and without too much premeditation. Once you have done it, look at your scores. Which of the four roles do you think is your particular strength – Motivator, Goal-Setter, Friend, or Observer? Which is your weakest link? How does this process of reflection help inform the development of your coaching in the future and with which friends/colleagues/clients?
And for more information about Motivational Maps please contact one of our Licensed Practitioners.