In the old leadership paradigm, being a coach and being directive were regarded as two alternative leadership styles.
In the new leadership paradigm, being directive should not be regarded as a leadership style; it is a fall-back position that should be sparingly used.
In this respect, there is one main difference between personal evolution coaching and the other types of coaching. The difference is in the degree of direction that you can allow yourself to give to the person you are coaching. For me, the golden rules in this regard are as follows:
In coaching for personal evolution, you never give direction—you always ask questions to build greater awareness and responsibility in the person you are coaching, so they can make their own choices.
In coaching for professional evolution or performance, you never give direction unless the task you are helping someone with has a very tight deadline or is particularly complex, and the person who is doing the task clearly needs help. The guidance you give should help them explore the context, identify options, evaluate the strengths and weakness of those options, and if necessary guide them to what you consider, from your superior experience, to be the right choice.
At the end of the day, you want the people you are coaching to feel comfortable in saying, “I did it myself” and also, if they feel so inspired, “Thanks for your help.”
Chapter 16: External Cohesion in Teams