The world of high performance coaches and performance coaching includes multiple clients, from athletes to traders to executives to any other professional that needs to increase their productivity and results.
Techniques used in performance coaching usually follow one of three routes:
- Belief and assumption transformation;
- Cognitive bias and emotion removal;
- Rituals and identity release creation;
- Behavioral change;
Belief and Assumption Transformation
Performance coaching is in many cases performed as a form of watered-down therapy, transforming client beliefs about themselves. Simple simple form of exercise around life values or opinions of oneself is done, to then transform those beliefs and opinions and increase the person’s performance and productivity by removal of these blockers.
Although interesting, a very high level of diligence is necessary to effectively cause behavior change in an person. Any belief transformation exercise will only have long-term effect if part of a long-term program where the coach helps the client do some kind of Cognitive-Behavioral exercise, such as journaling thoughts and emotions to slowly substitute the old ones with new, empowering ones.
Cognitive Bias and Emotion Removal
For coaches that have a deeper knowledge of emotions and cognitive biases, exercises that help root these out and address them are very useful. For example, analyzing someone’s transference and displacement patterns is a great way to get to the root of what they project and expect of others, which can lead to all sorts of other subsequent conclusions, from how they see the world to the reactions they cause in others (a great complement to emotional intelligence activities).
Removing these cognitive biases (for example, the loss aversion bias, “holding on to losers”, originated in trading but very present in other professions and life in general, holding on to things, people, jobs or anything else that is not worth is) and emotions (for example, removing triggers for becoming angry and installing cognitive inhibition devices to mitigate responses) increases performance.
Rituals and Identity Releases
Very used in the worlds of sports and changes, these techniques are very associated with the old NLP schools. While the creation of rituals helps someone achieve performance by being triggered by a known, empowering repetitive practice, identity releases are specific types of rituals where you give your self permission to “take the limiter off”, or “remove the governor” as David Goggins would say.
Many performance coaches work with clients to create mechanisms to release different identities or traits by creating rituals that trigger states of giving yourself complete permission, “removing the governor”.
Apart from all the other strategies – or maybe incorporating a bit of each – behavior change is used in high performance coaching as the practice of some kind of frequent contact between the coach and the client oriented towards the change of a specific behavior. It might involve removing of biases and emotions, CBT, changing of beliefs and the creation of rituals. Or it might involve only one of the four.
The different is that, while the other three are practices that affect the individual as a person “in general”, behavioral change is the leveraging of those tools for a very specific purpose, such as eliminating low self-esteem or others.
Honoring the Fundamentals
Of course, any coach that is great at one or more of these methodologies but doesn’t obey the fundamentals of coaching will have a hard time instilling behavioral change in their clients. Some fundamentals (including from my framework Kingmaker Influence) include:
- A “diagnostician” frame. Listening closely to client needs and only then positioning a service, versus forcing a fit with a client that isn’t committed or wants the service;
- Leveraging investment and commitment. If the client isn’t committed to change, merely interested, regardless of the quality of advice or techniques, they will most likely not change;
- Resisting the urge to give advice. Many “coaches” don’t really do coaching, which is supposed to lead the client to an answer, instead giving advice or telling them what to do. While this solves the immediately problem, it doesn’t cause the client to learn. They don’t “learn how to fish”;
Conclusion: Towards Quality in High Performance Coaches
High performance coaches and coaching are very talked about topics, but it’s necessary that clients vet the coaches they work with in order to truly obtain results and make sure the mechanisms provided can really be of help.
Forbes has a great article on how coaching actually helps leaders.