Five chairs – five choices

Having recently used the Five Chairs – Five Choices model within a seminar to highlight the concept of coaching styles (from a leadership perspective) I am mindful of some of the messages that emerge from the work of Louise Evans. The model addresses cultural intelligence, our ability as leaders / managers (and I suggest, coaches) to work effectively with people. Reflecting on my coaching practice, how I approach each individual relationship, each interaction and each moment often raisers the question of effectiveness. Do I move to a protective state where I assign blame, attack and defend my position as coach? Or, do I have vision in my practice, am I able to empathise and display compassion? I would suggest, like many others, that coaching does not reflect one single ‘style’ or mode of practice, rather, we move through a range of emotions, states of being and behaviours that have an impact on our charges. We have the power to influence their perception of the relationship we have and the effectiveness of the interaction as a result of the connectivity that exists within our being together.

Five Chairs:

(RED) Jackal – punish, judge, complain, attack, a judging position, I am right position

(YELLOW) Hedgehog – vulnerable, protective mode, self-judgement, self degradation self-doubt, lack of confidence

(GREEN) Meerkat – mindful, thoughtful, curiosity, choice

(BLUE) Dolphin (detect) – detective to ourself, self-awareness, vision, voice, create boundaries, retain power, freedom

(PURPLE) beautiful, difficult, loving, vision, empathy, compassion, understanding, listen

I often think through these and many other concepts as a means of informing my behaviour, the way I coach and the influence I have with my players. Today was very much one of those days. I spent a little bit of time prior to the start of the game talking to players individually. I wanted to empower them, give them a sense of confidence and ‘permission’ if you like, a license to play freely and do what they felt was an reflection of their very best. Having spoken to them individually, I took my place on the bench and did everything I possibly could to remain quiet, to allow the players to self-organise, to contribute through the execution of their role and to be supportive.

We got off to a good start, executing our now patented style of play, ‘Run-Press-Run’ (adapted from Coach Xavier, Nottingham Knights), sharing the basketball and communicating both the intent and purpose (at times). I sat quietly, using the opportunity to gather some stats, again, in the hope that I would be able to use them as a means of demonstrating Who We Are! The game continued to play out, the result was inevitable, however, I was more concerned with what we were doing and how we were doing it. My challenge had been a simple one, could we establish ‘Who Are We?’ Could we be US? It was important for all twelve players to get into the game and experience substantial minutes today, to act out their role and be who they wanted to be. With this in mind I said very little, accept for in the third quarter. The pressures, unpredictability and opposition really do direct our behaviour as a coach, something my research is beginning to tell me. I had my moment and then returned to my state of observation and recording.

At the conclusion of the game, our third gathering in three days, the boys had done well to explore their identity, to enact their individual and collective goals with a degree of success. Could we do better? Yes, sure we could, but for now, the effort (Where Are We?) had been good (engaged and leading) and we had shown that we did understand a lot of what and who we were trying to be. Of what our game model comprised of and how best to employ the various elements with success and energy. The boys had played well and I was happy with our direction of travel. We would continue to work towards our next challenge, a harder challenge, but one that I felt we were going to be ready for and that we would enjoy.



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