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Can coaches motivate individuals?


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“Motivation is intrinsic. Coaches cannot motivate individuals. They examine and clarify the individual’s values, purpose and vision, and collaboratively set goals that ‘pull’ the individual towards achieving them.” True? False? This is worth the discussion. A small essay by Florence Dambricourt, coaching and training specialist

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Can coaches motivate individuals?

  1. 1. Florence Dambricourt Page 1 of 8 September 2014 “Motivation is intrinsic. Coaches cannot motivate individuals. They examine and clarify the individual’s values, purpose and vision, and collaboratively set goals that ‘pull’ the individual towards achieving them.” True? False? This is worth the discussion. A small essay By Florence Dambricourt Coaching and training specialist
  2. 2. Florence Dambricourt Page 2 of 8 September 2014 Introduction With this essay, I will start by reviewing what motivation is, and assess whether or not motivation is intrinsic. From the definition of motivation, its link with emotions, actions and the notion of motivation strategy, we will then discuss the impact coaches can or cannot have on motivation. Through the establishment of coaching relationships, coaches have the privilege to get to know their clients, their vision of the world, their values and sometimes their emotions. We are given the permission to assist clients in clarifying their values, purpose and vision which can help, when needed, to collaboratively set goals that ‘pull’ the individual towards achieving them. We can then use coaching models, following their guidelines at the same time as our intuition to allow clients to move forward. For this discussion, I will look at three separate models, the ACE FIRST model, the Appreciate Inquiry and the GROW models to reflect on how using those models can bring light onto the question of motivation, by helping us to understand values, purpose and vision as much as defining goals. Many more models could be used through this discussion, such as the 101 elements of a person, the values elicitation, the fact of knowing how to elicit greatness and the 7-step goal plan, without forgetting the importance to champion clients. I will conclude this essay by a synthesis of the information reviewed. Note as well that I will assume we are working within the ICF/EMCC core competencies framework. Discussion Motivation is a fascinating word. Coming from the Late Latin movere -to move, motivation means movement, and being motivated is to be ready to move or to take action1. When consulting Wikipedia, I came across 20 something theories and models about motivation2. It seems the main studies started post 19403 and I will highlight five of interest for this discussion: - Motivation as being either intrinsic (motivated by pleasure or satisfaction in the task itself) or extrinsic (motivated by a desire for reward, relying on external pressure) - Motivation as being Push and Pull, where push is connected with internal factors and pull with external factors. - Motivation as drives (or desire), we reply to a need or activate a behaviour for a specific purpose - Motivation as the incentive theory, similar to the extrinsic motivation above, motivation is associated with reinforcement based on positive results - Motivation as replying to the needs theory, aligned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs4 1 2 3 MotivationOverview.htm?pagewanted=all 4 This seems to be one of the most discussed theory
  3. 3. Florence Dambricourt Page 3 of 8 September 2014 A well published author of the moment, Daniel Pink5, links motivation with drives, more precisely with three types of drive -a desire for autonomy -a desire for mastery -a desire for purpose. Depending on the drive in question, Daniel Pink would then align to the intrinsic/extrinsic motivation theory. This is fine when we agree we have moved out of the first layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs6, and focus on level such as belonging, esteem or self-actualisation. A limitation behind Daniel Pink definition is the assumption that a drive always pull us forward. Depending on context and situation, all the theories above are valid. Motivation is about being moved to do something. We can be pulled or pushed. We can move toward or away from something. We can decide to take action based on an inside satisfaction or the vision of an external reward. Still in all situations, we decide to take action. In life & death situation, some people decide not to move and die, while others move, act and live. Similar situations, similar consequences, similar motivation generating situations, and still we find two different reactions. Motivation being the actual start of the movement, it can only be intrinsic, as only the individual can decide to move. What can be intrinsic or extrinsic is the trigger, the one element that initiates the motivation. Late Latin gives us another fascinating clue here. Emotion, like motivation, comes from the word movere (e –from ex: out- + movere –to move). Emotion means to move out7. From an internal or external trigger, individual processes information, creating at some point a kinaesthetic sensation – an emotion, either positive or negative. This kinaesthetic sensation, when positive, creates motivation, aka the desire to act8. The trigger to motivation is usually an emotion. What we often forget is that motivation is a brief operation, a brief kinaesthetic reaction that starts the movement. The truly challenging point is to maintain that motivation. This can only happen when there is a positive feedback loop on the action taken thanks to the initiation of motivation. The story goes as follow 1) we read the trigger -it can be something we see, hear, taste, smell or feel, and it can be external or internal 2) we associate this to mental pictures9 -where we see the result of taking action 3) these images are used to trigger our decision10 -if the result is satisfactory, according to an identified criteria, we initiate motivation 4) by acting, we generate a new emotion (or feeling, where feelings can be seen as the interpretation of the emotion) -when this emotion matches our defined criteria, we maintain our motivation11. We call this a motivation 5 6 7 8 This was studied by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in their first volumes about NLP, a summary information page can be found at by Robert Dilts. This does not mean that the actual action has to be pleasant; the motivation can be the satisfaction of completing the action. 9 Described in the realm of NLP with the NLP model of communication, this was proven scientifically by Jeff Hawkins a neuro-scientist 10 Research has concluded that people make decisions, based on the emotions they experience at the time of choice in reaction to the mental picture of the choices outcomes, rather than logical reason, Loewenstein G, Weber EU, Hsee CK, Welch N (2001), Risk as feelings, Psychological Bulletin 127(2) 267-286 cited in Gerard P. Hodgkinson and Mark P. Healer, Psychological foundations of dynamic capabilities reflexion and reflection in strategic management 11 Easy then to understand how kids can lose their motivation for learning in school…
  4. 4. Florence Dambricourt Page 4 of 8 September 2014 strategy. Each of us have different motivation strategies based on context and past experiences, and for each strategy we have a feedback loop12. We agree motivation is intrinsic, however we identify this motivation needs a trigger, and this trigger is either intrinsic or extrinsic. Can we or can we not, then, as coach, motivate individuals? Like everything in coaching… it is neither black nor white… rather the amazing grey of a night with moonlight. No, we cannot motivate individuals, in the sense that we cannot force them to take action. Yes, we can motivate individuals, in the sense that we can assist them in recognizing their trigger, finding better ones and creating appropriate feedback loop to maintain their motivation. Let’s take the sample of a client XX, who wants to stop smoking. XX has the motivation to stop (a pain in the chest) and is able to stop. A few days later, XX is back smoking. What happens? First -the motivation is there, since action is taken. Next -the trigger is there; it is intrinsic and linked to a mild chest pain. Then –the feedback loop is inappropriate; XX stops smoking for a few days, the pain disappears, the motivation to stop disappears. The criteria to maintain the motivation is inappropriate. XX has more of a ‘push’ type of motivation, associated with a movement of ‘going away from something’13, leading to inconsistent results. That’s simple, as soon as we are away enough from the unpleasant criteria, our motivation lowers and we move back toward the unwanted item, until we get closed enough to be motivated again14. We can easily see, with XX situation, how focusing on for instance -being healthier –using the cigarette money for a restaurant weekly- is more likely to maintain motivation. With these types of vision, XX creates a ‘toward to’ movement. The closer XX gets to the motivator initiator, the more motivated XX becomes. This is a ‘pull’ effect, our trigger pulled us forward15. Working with client XX, we had to define together what could pull XX forward, and ensure that it was strong enough for XX to maintain motivation. To do so, we looked at XX’s values; we brought health as a priority then XX created a vision of the future. To assist with the action, we set up small enough goals, creating numerous milestones to reinforce motivation. We can see that action and motivation feed each other. Without action creating positive results16, it is impossible to maintain motivation. Setting goals with clients becomes extremely important, where the essence of these goals is to generate a feeling or emotion, especially a positive one. 12 Sample of testimonies of a sport person doing self-coaching and working on their feedback look 13 We can find various post or discussion on away from versus toward to, such as, away-tech/#axzz2UnAmCp3T, towards-and-away-from-motivation/ - Some posts present interesting information on Linguistics and words to look for in order to recognize motivational direction of clients, when describing their actions or intentions. 14 I call this the saw shape motivation 15 Note that with this pull definition, trigger can be internal or external (not like the push/pull theory of motivation, where pull is always associated with external factors) 16 We understand positive results from client’s perspective
  5. 5. Florence Dambricourt Page 5 of 8 September 2014 Let’s review now three coaching tools, that can assist coaches in being able to clarify the individual’s values, purpose and vision, and then, when needed, to collaboratively set goals that ‘pull’ the individual towards achieving them,’ –first, the ACE FIRST, a cognitive behaviour model – second, the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) –third, the GROW(TH) model. The ACE FIRST model is coming from cognitive behavioural coaching, a powerful approach focusing on the psychological aspect as well as the practical aspects of goal achievement17. Using this model in specific context, such as completing a task, the coach seeks to identify the following elements18: A-Action C-Cognitions E-Emotions (the primary elements of change) and then F-Focus I- Intention R-Results S-System T-Tension (the context in which change is sought). Primary elements of change and the context, in which change is sought, are linked by effective or ineffective patterns. Information identified under emotions and cognition is extremely useful in understanding trigger behind client’s motivation (or non-motivation), while information under action give us immediate steps which can be used as small incremental goals. Information from results, intention, focus and system, give elements to define more appropriate trigger and feedback loop. The ACE FIRST model, being really context specific, is ideal to use during one full session on a specific task and can be perfect for ‘loosening’ the client thinking, where follow up work can be then done in a wider context. If we go back to the example of XX motivation to stop smoking, if XX is interested into doing a sport event, the ACE FIRST could be used for that specific sport event, as a starting point before working in the wider context of bringing health and lifestyle as priority, for them to become true motivator for stopping smoking. With ACE FIRST, we work with values, purpose (sometimes vision as well, short term vision linked to a context) and an immediate goal. The Appreciative Inquiry (AI) comes from David Cooperrider work in the 1980s19. Primarily an organizational development method, AI can easily be used with individual. The concept is simple. Based on the assumption that we change in the direction we inquire20, AI launches an inquiry in the direction of the solution or the positive change we look for. In some cases when motivation is not triggered, and clients enter state of procrastination, we have identified that the mental picture they are making of the results of their action is not any more motivator; often this is linked to clients focus being on the issue they are facing rather than the solution. Using AI, coaches assist clients in re-discovering the outcomes they are working for. In addition, the approach elicits positive resources and emotions, what is needed to build proper motivation trigger. The AI approach most often follows the 4D model –Discovery (‘what gives life?’) –Dream (‘what might be?’) –Design (‘how can it be?’) and –Destiny (‘what will be?)21. Questions from the coach are to be appreciative, applicable, provocative and collaborative. AI is a collaborative search between coach and client for finding the best in their client, assisting in creating a vision. We are now speaking about vision and goals, in a 17King Paula (2013), Advanced Diploma in Personal & Executive Coaching, Ed. Kingstown College, module 5. 18 Graham Lee (2003), Leadership Coaching: From personal insight to organisational performance, Ed. CIPD (chapter 2) 19 20 This concept aligns with positive thinking, as well as with NLP methodology, and seems to be supported by neuro-science research on the RAS system. 21 Cooperrider David L., Whitney Diana, Stavros Jacqueline M. (2008), Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change, Ed. Crown Custom Publishing, Inc.
  6. 6. Florence Dambricourt Page 6 of 8 September 2014 wider context than used in the ACE FIRST model. As well the first two steps (discover and dream) can bring to lights individual values. It’s important to note that even if one step is called Dream, this approach really focus on creating reality, using five principles, one being the positive principles. Following the analysis we did on motivation and motivation strategies, we can see how a focus on positive principles really assist in maintaining motivation as well as creating appropriate trigger, the same way than the creation of the vision will bring the ‘pull’ effect. The GROW(TH)22 model aligns with tools such as SMART goals23, or the NLP well-formed outcomes24. GROW(TH) stands for Goals, Reality, Options, Will (or Wrap up), TH being for Time-Scale and How. Similar to SMART model, GROW(TH) has a wider scope25 and cab be apply to life context, organizational context, looking at creating powerful vision at times. Very visual when done on a flipchart with clients, this model starts by defining goals, in a wide sense. R is for Reality, but could also be used for Resources, defining the reality of the situation. O for options stands also for Opportunities and brings the positive focus/intention we talked about when reviewing the AI approach. W, for Will or wrap-up, can also include the ‘what’s in it for me’ which is a great place to assess what is the actual motivation, and if the trigger behind this motivation as well as the feedback loop is appropriate. T for Time-scale or Time-bound, gives the necessary timeline to create a sense of urgency as well as places to identify milestones for the client to celebrate. With the last component, the How, we review strategic planning and practical information. This GROWTH approach gives client and coach a great tool to collaboratively set goals, here again with an emphasizing on the pull, by creating a vision, and we can see a possible evolution between the three model, from ACE FIRST, to AI to last GROW(TH) which can nicely pace client. 22 John Whitmore (2009), Coaching for performance, GROWing human potential and purpose, Ed. Nicholas Brealey 23 SMART goals are now widely used in the industry, either coaching individuals, teams or organization, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible or Time Bound (Slightly different version can be found) 24 The NLP well-formed outcomes integrate SMART information. In addition, everything has to be stated with affirmative sentences and every actions/steps listed has to be owned by the individual, enforcing possibility and empowerment 25 Goals defined with SMART can be part of a GROW model. GROW model accommodates focus on outcomes at long term, where an outcome can be a set of individual goals. It’s interesting to notice that initially the GROW included TH within the W (where W was for Will, When, What).
  7. 7. Florence Dambricourt Page 7 of 8 September 2014 Conclusion With this discussion, I review the fact that motivation is intrinsic. However triggers to motivation are either intrinsic or extrinsic (and either positive or negative) leading us to be motivated to move away from something or toward something. Once motivation is triggered we use a feedback loop to maintain motivation. Though coaches cannot motivate individuals, they can assist individuals in modifying their motivation trigger, as well as their feedback loop in order to use more effective pattern. These modifications are indeed done based on the examination and clarification of client’s values, purpose and vision. At the same time work is done between coach and client, to collaboratively set goals that pull the individual toward achieving them; the fact of having a pull leading to consistent behaviour and results. Collaboratively is a key word as client is king here, and the coach is there to assist through a dialogue. As mentioned in the introduction, listening is the difference that makes the difference. Three tools were presented that coach can use to work with client when working on their motivation, moving them from the stuck zone to the unstuck zone: the ACE FIRST model (based on cognitive behaviour coaching methodology, and used on a specific context), the AI inquiry (using solution focused approach, developing vision and resources) and last the GROW(TH) model, a methodology for goals settings. In the analysis on motivation, we agreed that motivation, emotions and actions are linked together, emotions triggered motivation, motivation triggered actions and actions (and its results) maintain motivation by creating positive emotions. Goals and actions plan are used to support this movement, this motivation, and generate the change sought by the coachee.
  8. 8. Florence Dambricourt Page 8 of 8 September 2014 Bibliography Hyperlinks to third-party websites are provided by the author as a convenience to the reader. The author does not control these sites and is not responsible for the content, update or accuracy of these sites. The author does not endorse or make any representations about the companies, products, or materials accessible through these hyperlinks. If you opt to hyperlink to sites accessible through this book, you do so entirely at your own risk. Online dictionary: University Database / No Specific author listed MotivationOverview.htm?pagewanted=all (not dated), (2010) motivation/ (2010) (2006-2013) Cooperrider David L., Whitney Diana, Stavros Jacqueline M. (2008), Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change, Ed. Crown Custom Publishing, Inc. Costantini Raphl (2013), Towards and Away From at “Tech X”: A Business Application of the LAB Profile, Ed. ( Dilts Robert (1998), Basic Motivation Strategy, Ed. ( Hawkins Jeff (2003), How brain will change computing, Ed. Ted Talk ( King Paula (2013), Advanced Diploma in Personal & Executive Coaching, Course material Lee Graham (2003), Leadership Coaching: From personal insight to organisational performance, Ed. CIPD Loewenstein G, Weber EU, Hsee CK, Welch N (2001), Risk as feelings, Psychological Bulletin 127(2) 267-286 cited in Gerard P. Hodgkinson and Mark P. Healer, Psychological foundations of dynamic capabilities reflexion and reflection in strategic management Jim (2013), A note on negative feedback loops, Ed. Bing ( on-negative-feedback-loops-in.html) Pink Daniel (2009), The puzzle of motivation, Ted Talks (available as well on at Tay L, and Diener E. (2011). Needs and subjective well-being around the world. Ed. Journal of Personal Social Psychology, 101, 2, 354-65 (extract, Whitmore John (2009), Coaching for performance, GROWing human potential and purpose, Ed. Nicholas Brealey