Who is a credible coach for physicians?
A question I hear often from non-physicians is this: “Will a physician view me as a credible coach?”
And I hear a version of that question from physicians: “Will physicians take me seriously as a coach?”
Yes, you read that correctly. Both physicians and non-physicians initially wonder if they will be viewed as “credible” by the very individuals they so want to serve. The fact that the question comes from EVERYONE reveals a little bit about physicians and why it’s important to understand how physicians grow up in medicine (that’s another blog post!). Just as importantly, though, the question often reflects a misunderstanding of the coach’s role.
First, to answer the question: Yes, you will be perceived as a credible coach, as long as you can Co-create TRUST. Co-creating trust with a client is a specific and essential coaching competency. To co-create trust is to enter a coaching relationship or coaching conversation without assumption, opinion or bias about the client or their situation. To enter into a coaching relationship is a challenge for almost everyone in healthcare, because whether we are clinician or non-clinician, we’ve all mastered the expertise of triage and quick problem-solving. However, offering solutions is NOT the expertise that is called for in coaching.
Learning the coaching competency of Co-creating Trust requires that when you are in “coach mode,” you now manage yourself in two important areas: 1) you set aside the org chart and professional hierarchy, and 2) you let go of the notion that your job is to define the problem, provide solutions or fix the client (or situation).
In coaching, the expertise is different, as is the accountability. In coaching, the client is the expert in their own life and they are accountable for the results they achieve. The coach is the expert in the coaching process. The coaching process and professional competencies have been well described by the International Coach Federation. Indeed it is these competencies that distinguish a coaching conversation from any other type of conversation.
In the experience of the Physician Coaching Institute, both physicians and non-physicians make effective and successful coaches for physicians—as long as they can Co-create Trust.