Enjoy the silence – the fine balance between coach and expert

Rosanna Machado | November 18, 2019


I’ve always loved the fact that I run events on subject matters that I know nothing about, whether that’s boats on the Thames, insurance or private equity. The ability to immerse yourself in something new and turn it into a creative event is always such a fun challenge, as long as you know the right questions to ask.

And evidence suggests that in this rapidly changing digital world, more leaders and managers are faced with situations where they don’t have all the answers. Itay Talgam in his book ‘The Ignorant Maestro’ actively encourages us all to embrace ignorance as a way of unlocking new thinking and creativity.  

The ability to coach and use softer skills is therefore becoming increasingly important and the key is to strike a balance between coaching and using your expertise. Supporting colleagues, asking questions and facilitating development can be really powerful rather than the more traditional directive method of management, whilst recognising when advice or direction is helpful or necessary. Coaching can be thought of in terms of the information that the coach puts in and the energy and potential that the coach can unlock in someone. Unless you are in a formal coaching session, the likelihood is a blend of the two and whilst our natural instinct might be to relate back to ourselves, our own examples and tell people what to do, I’d encourage you all to start, where possible, from a more non-directive coaching standpoint where you can encourage and support peers to unlock the answers for themselves.

  • Ask lots of open-ended questions – remember TED: Tell Me, Explain to me, Describe to me
  • Take the time to really listen without responding or making judgements
  • Think about the best form of coaching to support your colleague to the right outcome

By empowering our colleagues through coaching, we can create an energised workforce and inspire an environment full of creativity and learning.