by Bob Tschannen-Moran
Simply put, coaches seek to evoke the best of all possible orientations, aptitudes, and performances from the people with whom we work. Many processes have been created to facilitate this, including a model that my wife and I developed for those who work in schools and other educational contexts. Although focusing on education, the Evocative Coaching (EC) model is not limited to this one arena. It can be – and has been – utilized more broadly in order to sharpen the focus and evoke the realization of people’s hopes and dreams. Instead of analyzing and solving problems, like counselors and consultants, the EC model assists coaches to utilize a no-fault, strengths-based orientation in order to bring out the best of what might be.
The EC model maps out the coaching process on a Möbius strip in order to represent coaching as an ever-expanding and intertwining process. The model involves two turns (the No-Fault Turn and the Strengths-Building Turn), four steps (Story Listening, Expressing Empathy, Appreciative Inquiry, and Design Thinking), eight movements (Initiate, Elaborate, Validate, Appreciate, Extrapolate, Innovate, Deliberate, and Activate), and sixteen style points (Establishing rapport, Appreciative questions, Attentive listening, Exploring stories, Offering reflections, Celebrating progress, Clarifying focus, Discovering strengths, Observing vitalities, Framing aspirations, Inviting possibilities, Brainstorming ideas, Designing experiments, Aligning environments, Confirming commitment, and Session feedback). These elements, taken together and masterfully utilized, generate a truly transformational coaching process with spectacular results. And a Möbius strip is a wonderful model for representing the process. If you do not know about or have never played with Möbius strips I encourage you to do so. I promise you will be intrigued, surprised, and delighted!
These remarkable two-dimensional objects in three-dimensional spaces have unique properties that capture perfectly the coaching process as understood and described by both Evocative Coaching and the IAC Coaching Masteries. That is why, in part, we were granted permission to reprint the Masteries in our book and to make clear the connections between the IAC Masteries and the Evocative Coaching model. The two are quite complementary and the EC model is quite indebted to the IAC in terms of both its content and process. The conceptualization, framework, and language of EC revolve around trust, affirmation, listening, processing in the present, expressing, clarifying, setting clear intentions, inviting possibility, and creating systems of support. They revolve, in other words, around the IAC Masteries in the particular context of education.
If I was to pick one Mastery utilized most directly in form and substance by the EC model, it would be Mastery #4: processing in the present. The present is, by definition, the only moment we have in which to live. All too often, however, we find our conscious attention drifting back or leaning forward in time. Remembering the past and planning for the future are, of course, important and normal activities in life. But when it comes to coaching, a full awareness of what is happening in the present moment and of how to work with that dynamic holds the key to forward movement, growth, and success. It is a skill for every coach to learn and to master.
We work on this Mastery in our EC training program by assisting school-based coaches to focus on the coaching process itself rather than on the pressures and requirements of the systems in which they work. When this happens – through story listening, expressing empathy, appreciative inquiry, and design thinking – all manners of possibilities emerge and become realities. And that is, after all, the point of coaching itself: to assist people to map out for themselves a dynamic, effective, and transformational course of development. To that end, I would encourage every IAC coach to consider the key elements of the EC model in their life and work. By so doing, we gain more tools and will better rise to the full measure of our calling and purpose as coaches.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-MMC, BCC, is the CEO & Co-Founder of the Center for School Transformation, President of LifeTrek Coaching International, and past President of the International Association of Coaching (IAC). He is an IAC Master Masteries Coach (MMC), a CCE Board Certified Coach (BCC), and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University. Among many other accomplishments and publications, Bob co-authored Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time (Jossey-Bass, 2010), which serves as the basis for a training program for educational coaches through theCenter for School Transformation. Taken together, the book and the training program give people the opportunity to not only understand the Evocative Coaching model but to also field test that model until it becomes the “new normal” as a way of facilitatinggrowth and leading people.