Coaching and Mediation Are Cousins Continuously Building Value

On a few occasions I’ve been asked, when friends, colleagues, or other professionals have seen my posts and thereafter read the Services section, how and why CiO’s services include both Leadership Coaching and Mediation. To them, one seemed to be about improving oneself (leadership) while the other had to do with improving the relationship between two parties (mediation). These are fair points considering the traditional idea and perception of each. But there’s more to them than meets the eye.

As a student of both leadership and mediation, I was probably naive to assume that the connection would be immediately apparent.

I’ve answered the inquiry by outlining to those who are curious how much coaching and mediation actually have in common. The assumption was a subconscious one for me where I felt they went hand-in-hand, but I never realized how many things they actually have in common until I put together this post.

So here are ten points of connection between the two:

Necessity of Services

Typically, both coaching and mediation stem from the realization that a change in behavior or approach is needed by the client, either in the workplace or in a personal matter. That realization becomes the impetus for which the client(s) seeks the insight or perspective of an outside and objective party.

Ground Rules for Moving Forward

Both practices begin with the understanding that there is confidentiality, honesty, and accountability throughout the duration of the process. A great approach to each leadership and mediation is founded in the understanding that there needs to be some structure in order to avoid veering away from the developmental path while simultaneously maintaining both respect and professionalism toward all parties involved.

Consideration to Others

Both practices are based in the realization of the needs of other stakeholders in the immediate environment. The lack of, or lower, acknowledgement of others before each process may be intentional or not, to be honest. But during and after each process, the acknowledgement and understanding of the needs of others is part of the foundation and beginning of both the resolution of the issue at hand, and the growth of perspective for those involved.

Listening to Other Stakeholders

Beyond realizing that there are other parties involved that might impact the client, and vice versa, then begins the true understanding of how others are shaped by our actions. It isn’t enough to understand there are others involved and show them that acknowledgment; one needs to analyze the needs of the other parties and the structure of the relationship, also, in order to move toward progress.

The Power of Questions

In each process, questions are then utilized to guide the conversation so that the clients get to the resolution through their own thought process and information dissemination. The questions get the clients to think in different manners other than what they have become accustomed to, and hopefully they continue to make additional realizations about themselves and the environment or situation which led to their seeking either coaching or mediation services.

Discuss Options and Opportunities

Both processes are idea generators based on the information that the clients provide, with the coach/mediator asking what the benefits and drawbacks are of each option. It’s about getting the client to discuss the road map of true possibilities and justifying or dismissing each through their own analysis based on questions posed by their coach or mediator.

Needs Vs. Wants

In both situations, the client realizes there might be a disconnect between what they really need and what they want from, or are conveying to, others. Reconciling these two criteria allows them to become more realistic or reasonable with themselves and other parties to determine what is truly important to the dynamic going forward and what might not add as much value.

Solution is Never Provided

The most important pillar of both these of practices is that the coach or mediator never provides the solution. There are services for that—consultants on the development side and arbitrators on the dispute side—that can lay out what is going to be done, but coaching and mediation are different. The solution or resolution is found through active listening and questioning in order to get the clients to develop their thinking skills as it pertains to the issue at hand. The hope, always, is that when the coach or mediator is not around, and based on the tools provided, that the client can walk themselves through the process, assessing and analyzing their situations, asking themselves questions, coming up with options, and delineating the good approaches from the bad.

Collaborate With Others

Whether in coaching or mediation, the experience might lead to the client collaborating better with others through better understanding of the situation, themselves, the other party (if there might be one), and how to continue assessing and reassessing their collaborative actions in order to tackle similar issues in the future.

Follow Up Sessions As Needed

There might be times, more often than not, where one session with the clients just doesn’t cut it. This need is dependent on the openness of the clients, the dynamic of the issue at hand, and the complexity of the steps toward resolution.

In The End…

Based on all these reasons, leadership coaching and mediation are very much cousins in the practice of self-development and understanding. Both practices aim to get the best of us out and into our professional or personal lives by navigating the factors that play out in those environments. They are both honest discussions which aim to improve the approach for all involved directly and indirectly. All parties benefit as in the end, the practices are about constant evolution and improvement.

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