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GENIUS Coaching - A Creative Coaching Model from Alec McPhedran of Skills Channel TV


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The GENIUS Coaching model for creative coaching from Alec McPhedran of Skills Channel TV, a creative training company. The GENIUS Coaching model provides a structure for coaches to guide them through a session.

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  • Alec, This is a good blend of several models I use. Good to see the affect and motivational/cognitive aspects in coaching are highlighted. Since the most tricky part at times can be getting the coachee to think through and engage with the answers to ’Why bother’, ’What’s in this for me?’ Positive responses to the above questions leading to action and commitment by the coachee. You refer to NLP, but for some clients NLP is a non-starter; they don’t find it helpful or won’t get into it. Fortunately as coaches we have several approaches/tools to select from. John Casson
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GENIUS Coaching - A Creative Coaching Model from Alec McPhedran of Skills Channel TV

  1. 1. coaching Coaching creative talent can be exciting, hugely rewarding and extremely challenging. Alec McPhedran outlines a coaching framework for developing creative people – GENIUS Turning ideas what you believe the solution is, it’s what the client believes it is. In the creative world of television, film, music, arts, theatre, games and music, the idea is the asset. Talent always shines through. On that basis, creative into reality coaching, and indeed training creative people, relies on always working with the talent and their ideas first and foremost. Great creative talent coaching is about working the individual, his imagination and his aspiration I into an inspiring and exciting n my naïve, innocent, early One of the key skills within reality. Not yours. It has to be days, coaching was working coaching is managing the process owned by him. So your inputs with the client, imparting of the coaching session in a timely have to be really relevant, my worldly knowledge way, as well as making good use valid and appropriate. You, the and wisdom as well as, of your questioning and listening coach, act as the conductor. The sometimes, working on their skills. In the creative industries, in individual has the talent. The ideas. Of course, it’s actually which I mainly work, it is critical creative coach’s role is to get the about working solely on the that ideas and solutions came best out of the talent. individual’s agenda, developing from the client, and that’s really Like most coaches, I have his ideas, stretching his thinking hard when you believe you know come across a number of really – hands-on coaching and hands- what the solution is. But surely useful coaching models, including off coaching. that’s one of the points. It’s not the often-used GROW model September 2009 TJ 63
  2. 2. coaching (Goal, Reality, Options and Will do). Another useful model Great creative talent often change as the ideas and enthusiasm move in different is CLEAR, developed by Peter Hawkins. CLEAR concentrates coaching is about working directions. Remember that, in the creative on Contracting, Listening, Exploring, Action and Review. the individual, their world, the idea is the asset. In many cases, it’s not right to pitch However, within the world of creative talent, these two models imagination and their your creative ideas unless you have the passion for them. In as a guide to the structure of a aspiration into an inspiring coaching, as the idea evolves and coaching session don’t always the passion for it grows, that is quite work as effectively as the and exciting reality when the objective can change – situation requires. becoming more challenging, more Creativity, innovation, exciting exciting. The different approach aspirations, firing imagination, in, first of all, is often an issue. here is being able to stop, reflect, new territories and fresh They don’t often think there review and revise, if appropriate, new ideas all need turning will be a benefit because ‘nobody the coaching objectives. into a reality. That’s the great understands them’. Over the following months, challenge in media and arts with In business or management therefore, I revisited my sessions, creative coaching. For me, a coaching, we develop objectives the processes I was using and the new approach was needed that for personal and business results we were getting. Goals worked differently for some of improvement where appropriate. were being achieved but I was my clients. With creatives, this causes wondering if they could have been automatic eye-glazing – a weird wider, more challenging – daring GENIUS and unusual symptom, I find. to be truly different. GENIUS coaching developed However, once they acknowledge The GENIUS model of following a chat with a pretty that it’s linked to helping them coaching evolved after testing cynical script-writing friend who turn ideas into reality, a script into it out on some knowing victims felt coaching had its place but a film, an idea into an image, they with mixed success. People most definitely not in the world of become engaged. who were really up for a new creative people. Coaching talent has other adventure opened their mind to Her previous experience of challenges, typically in keeping great new ideas and opportunities being coached at a leading up with the fast-paced process that truly seemed off the wall. It broadcaster had been helpful only of exploring options and ideas made others feel uncomfortable in career progression, not in her and managing the flow of ideas and my learning was that you desire to be the best in her field without trapping them. Equally, have to work with the aspiration of telling stories. A number of the use of a coaching programme and the reality of the coachee’s coaches had been unable to really or session ambition. Again, not my fulfil her aspiration. objective ambition. This made me think about can very Eventually the myself, my own ability to go GENIUS model further than I had been before came about, with people and, therefore, how probably the I could meet her challenge. result of a fire, Yes, we do offer stretching aim, ready strategy. It’s objectives but are we held now one of my favourite back with the SMART models, particularly when objective format, particularly working with exciting talent. with the Reality part? Whose GENIUS coaching is simple. reality? Her point was whether It’s another model for coaches’ we really always push past the toolkits, drawing its inspiration boundaries. Was I helping my from the likes of GROW, coachees by agreeing to their CLEAR, OSKAR and other initial objectives or was I really useful models. stretching them, taking them to new and exciting areas, sometimes scary in their ambition? Coaching creative talent, of course, has its challenges. Buy- 64 TJ September 2009
  3. 3. coaching Goals Get the client to rate his energy Hat discussion, identified an idea The first step of GENIUS is levels for making this work, that eventually became a web- to set the goals – an obvious perhaps with a score out of ten. based drama using new actors and starting point. We know the goal Without the genuine energy quality mobile phone film clips. is critical for a number of reasons to achieve the goal, is the goal The website now has a but, primarily, it provides us with the right one in the first place? following of more than 250,000 the reminder of what it is we are Discussing energy allows you people and he will be meeting working on, what needs to be to explore why that rating has an American television station to achieved, and it makes sure all been given, based on reviewing explore new projects. future conversation is relevant to the current situations, issues he Once you have looked at each achieving the goal. is facing and other things he has idea, work through and prioritise With GENIUS coaching, there tried. the key actions that came out of are three types of goals to set: the nurturing process. Priority 1. The aspirational goal of the Nurture one is the way forward. Options overall coaching contract. What Once goals and the energy levels two, three and four are potential will we have really achieved needed to achieve them have been back-up ideas or ideas for further at the end of the coaching established, you need to nurture a discussion at an appropriate time. programme? This should be range of ideas and opportunities. From the Six Thinking Hats highly ambitious, breaking into This, again, is where the coach’s model, you will then be able new territory for the coachee questioning, listening and creative to move into the next stage 2. Session goals. What do we need thinking skills come into play. of GENIUS coaching, thanks to achieve by the end of each Your ability to explore ideas and to identifying emotions and coaching session that directly encourage the creative thinking negatives from the Red and Black supports the aspirational goal? of things that are really off the Hat discussions. 3. Action goals. As a result of the wall – that have never been done coaching session, what steps does before – is absolutely critical. Inhibitors the coachee need to take by the Nurturing ideas should ideally You need to revisit the agreed time we next meet to achieve the be treated in the same way as a priority actions from the nurturing aspirational goal? pure creative thinking session: pull stage and identify the inhibitors. Using this three-step approach out the ideas, don’t critique too What’s going to stop the ideas to goal setting provides the early, set the parameters linked to from working? This is really coachee with consistency and the objectives and work through powerful as you seek out the focus for making things happen some of the ideas. My experience negatives. Again, de Bono’s Black and a clear understanding of why has shown that many creative and Red Hats significantly help he needs to do things. people have good visual thinking here. The use of the Yellow Hat The key skill for the coach skills, so do use Post-Its, flipcharts helps to explore benefits and is managing and setting the with colour pens, magazines and counter arguments to any potential aspirational goal. the like – visual stimulants are inhibitors. It’s those negatives that fantastic. Equally, having a range you then address with the client to Energy of soft toys or items around can establish how they will be tackled Once the aspirational be a useful sub-stimulant. if, or when, they crop up. and session goals This is also a great time to use I guess it’s the development have been set, the challenging and creative thinking of the cunning plan B scenario. next part of tools such as de Bono’s Six We are great at planning the GENIUS Thinking Hats (data, emotion, perfect life but, unfortunately, life’s coaching negativity, positiveness, feel not perfect. Therefore it makes is to look at good, innovative thinking and sense to anticipate inhibitors and the energy of process). Often, Six Thinking manage them into positives. It’s the coachee. He Hats generates all the issues and worthwhile at this point revisiting may want to achieve options as well as creating new your nurtured actions to see if something that is far ideas. It also provides the coach they need revising to reflect the reaching for him but with an opportunity to contribute points identified in the inhibitors does he really have the to the generation of ideas when stage of the session. energy? using the Green Hat. The desire to achieve In one session, a young writer Utopia and the energy to and I explored how he could So, we now know what the client do something can promote his work to television wants and how much energy he sometimes be poles apart. people and, through the Green has to achieve his goal. We’ve September 2009 TJ 65
  4. 4. coaching generated some great ideas, and have identified the potential problems and the likely responses to any negatives. If it all works fantastically, then… utopia: an imagined perfect place or state. This is where the coach’s NLP knowledge comes into play. Can you get the individual to visually, auditory and kinaesthetically imagine his utopia once the goals have been achieved? This is a powerful tool to make the end result feel real. What will he see happening, how will it sound and how great will he and others feel once it’s been achieved? It’s that thinking process that turns the aspiration into the reality for a creative. Envisioning, recording or feeling that end goal gives it life. It puts utopia in the mind of the individual. I have in the past encouraged clients to make that picture real – getting a close or true-to-life image and placing it at their desk or work space. For the auditory types, a written statement always at hand has the same effect. We’re back to the immense importance for creatives of goals linked to imagination. Once goals look real, they become Goals were being that’s the beauty of the business we’re in. If we were all perfect, real. Setting, writing down and imagining goals are an essential achieved but I was we wouldn’t have anybody to coach. role of the coach to get the creative talent to understand this. wondering if they could G – Goals to be achieved I believe that the best prediction of your future is have been wider, more E – Energy to achieve the goals N – Nurturing and exploring whatever you believe it will be. challenging – daring to options for achieving the goals The skill of the coach is to plant I – Inhibitors that may arise on that positive and exciting future be truly different the way to achieving goals with the talent. U – Utopia when the goals will be achieved Steps So there you have it – yet S – Steps to be taken to achieve Finally, the coaching session is another wonderful tool for the goals.  rounded off by summarising the coaching. The very simple steps to be taken by the coachee. GENIUS coaching model. It’s What will he do between now about pushing and developing and the next session? ambition and creativity for These are developed by writing creative people, exploring wide- SMART (specific, measurable, ranging opportunities and realistic, agreed and timed) action imagining the realities of what goals and clarifying the actual success will look, feel or sound Alec McPhedran is the managing director steps to take to achieve them. I like when achieved. of Skills Channel TV. He can be contacted on +44 (0)845 8377763 or via guess in the good old days that Obviously, I know this model was called action planning. may not be perfect for some – 66 TJ September 2009