How to Coach a Boss Who Doesn’t Want to Be Coached

inner game work lightbulb

inner game work lightbulb

Posted by Scott Eblin in The Next Level Blog on September 13, 2010
Q: How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change

Tim Gallwey, the former tennis coach who’s now an executive coach, is the author of a series of books on the inner game. In his book, The Inner Game of Work, Tim introduces a process called transposing. It’s a process I’d recommend to my friend the deputy and to anyone else who is trying to influence a challenging boss.

Here’s how it works. First, assume the stance of the other person. You’re not talking about them. You are talking as if you are actually them. From the stance of the other person, ask and consider the possible answers to three questions:

* What do I think?
* How do I feel?
* What do I want?

Play with the answers. Don’t stop at your first or even second response. Make an effort to go deeper. What’s going on in the environment that causes you (still taking the boss’s stance) to think the way you do? What information or circumstances are you aware of that shape your thinking? Based on what you think, how do you feel? What’s the emotional state that comes from that thought process? Are you confident, nervous, frustrated, secure, insecure? Try to get as clear as you can about the connection between the thought process and the resulting emotional state. So, after you’re clear on what you think and how you feel (remember, you’re still in the stance of your boss), what do you want? The answer could be around something very tangible like a particular result or it could be something less tangible like recognition or being seen as important.

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