To be a coach, physicians have to let go of being “the fixer”

in Physician Coaching Insights

We just launched our September Cohort of the Certified Physician Development Coach program. (What a great group!) Many of them are continuing into this advanced training after having completed our Healthcare Peer Coaching Fundamentals course.

Of the many qualities I appreciate about our cohorts, one is their willingness to be learners again after mastering their respective field, whether clinical, leadership or other domain expertise.

One big learning hurdle all of them report is this: resisting the strong urge to “fix” the client’s issue. Unlike our clinical work, where solution-finding, fixing, and directing is part of the job, coaching requires a different mindset—a coaching mindset. Coaching asks us to “support” the client’s self-awareness so the client navigates their own obstacles to find their own solutions.

However, after a lifetime of being “fixers” and “solution-finders” for our patients, it’s not easy for clinicians to put that part of our brain on pause.

So what are we doing as coach if we aren’t fixing? What does “supporting” the client mean?

As coach, you hold the space for the client, listening with the intent to understand. You notice their tone and body language, offering up what might not be said.

As coach, you identify their qualities, strengths and values, giving the client back to themselves.

As coach, you invite the client to consider a different assumption, attitute, or perspective.

As coach you offer the client something rare and empowering: the sense they have of being truly heard, of being seen, of being vulnerable without risk of judgment.

You may think that holding the space is not much, but when was the last time YOU experienced that sense of truly being seen?

For our physician clients, that is a treaured experience. Hold the space for them, and transformation will naturally occur.