I'd Rather Be A Guide Than A Coach


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A tremendous amount of discussion, books and articles has been devoted to coaching others, not just in sports but also in the business world. Coaching has become a buzzword. Rather than supervising, managing, training, counseling or mentoring subordinates you have become a coach.

It is interesting that as our society becomes less personalized and more technical our language is being modified to lessen the impact of words. Supervisor, manager, leader and mentor now become coach. Are we really evolving into a more participative style of leadership or simply becoming politically correct to soften authoritative words? I am not sure, but I know I don't like it. My issue with being a coach in the business world is that the executive or managerial coach does not participate in the game, does not go in harm's way, does not take the risks the players do. He or she is confined to the sidelines, watching, not exposed to the danger, failure or mistakes.

I believe coaching is a wonderful educational method but ineffective as a training experience. I define training as the process of teaching the required skills and knowledge for the staff member's current job. The best way to train staff based on that definition is as a guide.

A guide's purpose is to safely navigate the terrain with you from point A to point B. Along the way the guide identifies dominant features of the landscape, hazards, safety precautions, alternate routes, how to protect yourself from the weather, rest stops, how to read a map or compass, where to find food and water, the basics of first aid, how to pack your gear and the best vistas to view and enjoy. He or she trains you to navigate the terrain on your own in the future rather than talking you through your journey in the cabin and then sending you on your way.

The guide differs from the coach in this way. At the end of the journey the guide will have transferred knowledge and hands on practice that will enable the student to understand and experience the following: The student will know what is to be accomplished, why the journey is important, when the task is to be accomplished, where the task is to be performed and how to do the task based on knowledge gained from the guide and practical experience.

As you guide staff through the journey they are drawing their own conclusions, making mental notes and planning their next journey, using the guide's knowledge and experience as a foundation. The guide is creating an environment where a staff member can come and practice his or her job. A guide draws out of his or her student three key learning styles, visual, audio and kinesthetic: seeing, hearing and doing. Adults learn best by doing.

The guide ensures that there are programmed, confidence building exercises and decision-making points for the student along the journey. The goal is that towards the end of the journey the student becomes the guide ready for his or her own adventures.

Confucius said it best:

What I hear I forget
What I see I remember
What I do I understand

Feel free to use this article, in your publications; in its entirety provided you include the following notice: © Copyright 2006 GreatestStrategies.com, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA, http://www.greateststrategies.com

Kenneth E. Strong, Jr. , MS, is co-founder 0f http://www.greateststrategies.com a web based community devoted to educating, supporting and developing life-long learners

Mr. Strong has been a Health Care executive for 30 years. Mr. Strong received a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration from Providence College and a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from Salve Regina College He has had articles published by the American Geriatric Society and has spoken on a variety of topics for the American College of Health Care Administrators and the New England Not-for-Profit Providers Conferences. Mr. Strong has also served as Adjunct Professor at Stonehill College. He is also an evaluator for the Continuing Care Accreditation Commission and a certified Retirement Housing Professional. He is certified by Walden University as an online instructor and certified by Langevin Learning Services as an Instructional Designer/Developer and Master trainer.


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