I’m a business and leadership coach. Can you give me an example of how using metaphors might help my clients? H.W.
Many business and life coaches use Clean Language to help their clients get clear on what they want and need, to explore consequences of possible actions, to work on personal issues that are impacting their work, to enhance their leadership skills, to plan for the future, and more!
To give you an example, I had a client who runs a business. He wants to have his employees work together as an effective team, but two employees aren’t communicating. Using metaphors and Clean Language questions, I facilitate his exploration of the situation. The client first discovers “knots around his middle”. Such in-the-body metaphors can pop up unexpectedly; what does this have to do with the employees? More on that later.
My client’s next metaphor is that, as a leader, he is like a coach of a sports team, sharing values and goals with the team members. But further exploration reveals a fundamental problem: a sports coach is an expert in the sport. But this business man is not an expert in marketing or sales or human resources, etc. He realizes this is the crux of his dilemma: how can he make decisions when he doesn’t have the expertise?
So I ask, “What kind of coach is a coach with an effective team when he’s not an expert?” Client’s answer: a film director. A director has the overall vision and determines the direction ‘team members’ will take, but he’s not an expert in acting, lighting, sound, set design, etc. Still, he makes the decisions, and he is free to be creative. It turns out that creativity is an important part of this client’s vision that he hadn’t considered before the session. And this is not unusual—discovering a new dimension that linear, logical analysis might never have uncovered.
And so, after one session, my client has an empowering metaphor for his role in building an effective team. And the knots? The client sees them as limiting creativity and possibilities, tied up as he was by his belief that he had to let the experts decide what to do in their respective areas. But insight alone as to what they might be about is not enough, in this case, to remove the knots. The client senses they serve a purpose, too. More to explore in another session.