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The Inner Game/Tim Gallwey Media

/ Tim Gallwey pioneer of coaching

Tim Gallwey pioneer of coaching

IN: Jornal de Negócios

"The company's culture eats strategy for breakfast"

The American author, who is in Portugal for a series of lectures this week, addresses the virtues of coaching in the face of traditional training and explains how he can help in the Volkswagen scandal.


Tim Gallwey believes that coaching, a discipline he helped create, was "a great revolution" in improving manager’s skills, with its effects increasing as they move up the company. In a interview to Negócios, the North American author - with training methods applied to the business, health, education or sport areas - points to the "lack of will of managers to see the way" as the greatest challenge for the coach. At the invitation of Bright Concept, who represents him in Portugal, he will be this Tuesday at Belas Clube de Campo to show how golf can have an effect in business. In the following days he will give the workshop "The Inner Game in Leadership" in Sintra.


You are considered one of the parents of coaching. Are you proud of what this son of yours has become?

I have. It was a great revolution in the way people improved their skills. Coaching is a very different approach to instruction - it has better results and is much more interesting. Instruction is to tell the student what to do and not do, it creates doubts in the mind of the golfer, and then a judgment is made as to the correctness of the instruction. This doubt and this self-judgment are great interferences with the part of the brain that really coordinates behaviour. On the other hand, the "coach" simply requires the "coachee" to be aware of the critical points of the competence he is training. When awareness is brought to the detail of behaviour there is no doubt, judgment or manipulation - letting natural learning occur, followed by more effective behaviour.


How do you explain the explosive growth of coaching across the world in recent years?

In comparison to teaching, coaching responds much better to real challenges, especially for people with a top education. Superior performance demands greater awareness, confidence and clarity in the goal by the worker in any area. Coaching addresses these factors more than traditional training. The emphasis is on the learning of the coachees and not on the education of the trainer.


There are still many under-utilized professionals in the companies whose skills are barely explored.

Yes. Many professionals underestimate their abilities because they do not realize that they are blocking their real potential with induced fears and doubts, many of them inherited from the old-fashioned educational system. Fear of judgment and failures, beyond doubt, leads to an attitude of "trying too hard", of over control and correction, and so on, until the self-image of the professional becomes short of their real potential. This can be changed by creating a non-judgmental environment in which practitioners can accurately sense what they are doing.


At what times in a manager's career is coaching more fundamental?

Coaching is important at all levels, but the higher level the manager has, the more training he needs on how the 'unanswered' cultural aspects have an effect on what is thought, said and done. The company’s culture eats strategy for breakfast. It commands more than leadership thinks. This is a common but truthful phrase.


What is a challenging client (manager) for a coaching professional? What are the characteristics that make it a bigger challenge?

 The biggest challenge we face is the unwillingness to look and see the way. It is very powerful, and just a little embarrassing, to see that they keep hitting again and again against the same wall. For example, when a leader shares his strategy for the next quarter and asks his direct subordinates if they understanding it, you can count with a very small number of people raising their hand to admit they did not understand, and until you see why it is the strategy will not work.


There is now a major scandal in Volkswagen. What role can coaching with the top and middle management levels play in the resurgence of this large business group?

The role of the coach is not to take sides but to focus on aspects that are probably not even on the table. If we get them thinking outside their positions, their brains will have a better chance of seeing solutions they were not even looking for. This is a bit oblique and hard to believe until you see it happen a several times. The "frontal shock" approach challenges the ego to be combative and resilient, and blocks the most creative parts of the human brain.


Coaching tool far from motivation

Tim Gallwey rejects that coaching is a motivational tool, neither in business nor in sport, where he has already applied his methodology to tennis or golf, which he uses as an example. "In golf a player needs to motivate himself, this is not a substitute. If the golfer depends on the motivation of the coach then soon will suffer the impact of the digression of motivation. Many golfers know what the goal is, but they are not clear about why they play. (...) The reason why he or she plays it and the meaning it attributes to it will greatly influence their state of mind", he explains. In companies, the same thing happens: the coach can ask questions to help the coachee find his motivations, but it does not motivate him. Asked about the tips that give professionals who are now starting up in this emerging discipline, the expert advises them to "put aside what they think they should tell the coachee about the pros and cons of the skill they are to train "."Take advantage of the coachee’s learning, not of himself but of his own conscious experience. That's how we all learn as children to ski, play tennis or give our parents what they want. The children do it very well and quickly without needing someone to contro them too much”, said the American author.

Timothy Gallwey, born in San Francisco in 1938, is one of the heralds of coaching, originating from his early career as a tennis player and as an author of several successful books, such as “The Inner Game of Work”, which he released in 2000. He is also a consultant to top companies such as IBM, Apple, Coca-Cola and Rolls-Royce.


António Larguesa (october, 2015)