7 Tips for Effective Coaching and Development

For over 10 years, I have had the privilege to develop youth and adults through a strengths lens, helping them to identify where their unique talents are and how they can apply them to bring forth their best, and help bring out the best in others.  Through the years I have learned and developed personally, and have constantly refined the ways to unleash potential in others, and become more effective in development.  As a leader, the process in which you help unleash talent in others is so critical. As a Strengths practitioner at Youth Development Network , these 7 epiphanies have defined the way that I facilitate and unleash potential in others.  So whether you are a coach, or a leader, looking for some key points in more effectively developing your people, I hope these 7 epiphanies, can serve you as well as they have served me.

1) Curiosity is appreciated more than certainty. The questions I ask are more powerful than my answers. This epiphany makes the next six even more important.

2) Check your head! Suspending assumptions about people and situations makes me a more approachable coach. I love being surprised by who a person truly is; their hopes, fears, vulnerabilities and concerns. In order to do that I have to truly put aside the things that may cloud my judgment (title, first impression, clothing, you know- the silly materialistic stuff).

3) Use a q-tip before each coaching session. My clients expect me to bring my best. If my ears are not ready to 100% listen I’m not giving my best to the person(s) expecting my best. Everyone can fake listen, but as a coach I never want to be asked the dreaded words “Are you listening to me?”

4) Silence is your friend. I let people think, process, and go within themselves during coaching sessions. Letting people know that I am ok with silence has increased their safety and comfort. With Communication in my top 5, this one has not been easy for me but the payoff is so worth it.

5) Act like your client is the only person on the planet. People love to know that they are valued and cared for.  Not bringing any possible distractions to my coaching sessions (cell phones, iPad) has allowed me to be present and focused on what matters most for the next 30 to 60 minutes…My client!

6) Was it good for you? At the end of my coaching journey with each client I ask for real and honest feedback via an evaluation. This has been the most awesome gift as a coach. To know where I was of most use and where my strengths assisted someone in figuring out next steps is good for me but the real growth as a coach has been when people have given me feedback that suggested ways in which I can be more effective.

7) Thank you cards will never go out of style! Letting people know that I am blessed to have had the opportunity to coach them and am sincerely cheering for their success reminds my clients that I care about how they have chosen to take their next strengths-based steps.

What coaching and development epiphanies have you had?


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Adrian is Executive Director of the Youth Development Network and a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. His top 5 are: Maximizer, Strategic, WOO, Communication and Ideation.  Adrian has over 15 years experience in asset-based, strengths-based youth development approach and principles. Adrian has devoted his life to serving youth worker professionals and organizational systems with a focus on creating environments for youth to maximize their potential. In 2009 Adrian realized the benefits of the Clifton Strengthsfinder tool, and the impact potential to the success of the teams and leaders that embrace the strengths approach within their organizations, programs and businesses. Adrian has successfully incorporated the strengths-based approach internally for the entire Youth Development Network team and its board members and has successfully been incorporating the strengths-based approach into the Youth Development Network core trainings, technical assistance and coaching for individuals, executives, and teams. 

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