Septet Coaching Model
The Septet Coaching model is the proven coaching methodology outlined in my book, The Mindful Coach. The model offers a simple way of seeing the coaching process that can be applied in any helping profession.
Coaching is both a method and, on a deeper level, a commitment to serve others. Our ability to serve depends on being fluent in a well-grounded methodology, and being able to work skillfully with the subtle aspects of our own personalities that might get in the way. The Septet model provides a practical methodology for doing both of these.
Designed as a set of distinctions between seven roles (or Voices) we play as coaches, the model illuminates the dynamic relationship between these roles, and integrates them in an intelligent roadmap for any coaching conversation. At the same time, the distinctions provide us with the basis for observing ourselves, in order to become as present, responsive, and helpful as possible. I teach this methodology in public retreats, as well as at conferences and for private client groups.
Brief Descriptions of the Voices
The Septet consists of seven Voices. Each is a role that a coach assumes in serving the client. The Voices are like the instruments in a good jazz band. All understand the basic architecture of the music, and know just when their part comes. When it's their time, they take creative solos by improvising music that is just right for that specific moment.
Similarly, coaching works from a clear architecture. The Septet Model organizes the seven Voices in a way that that encourages learning and growth. In addition, through practice and presence, we become able to choose the most helpful Voice to use at any particular time. A good coach moves fluidly and intuitively between these seven roles.
Here are brief descriptions of the seven Voices.
This Voice underlies everything that the coach does. The Master embodies a way of being: mindful, curious and authentic. Doing this allows us to stay focused and in the present, and to change our approach with the client when something else will work better. The Master chooses which of the six other Voices to use at any given time.
The mindfulness of the Master requires that the coach put into practice, and model, the learning and growth that the coach asks of the client. There are five specific behaviors included in the Master.
As Partner, we work with the client to establish clear agreements for how we work together. The Partner holds on-going conversations with the client to shape the coaching process itself, and to make explicit what we are doing to support the client. In so doing, we share responsibility for the outcomes and process of coaching. Ultimately, the client can become self-generating by learning how to provide for herself what the coach is now providing.
This Voice is the core of the coaching methodology. The Investigator follows three lines of questioning that elicit new views and clear outcomes with the client. This creative tension catalyzes a natural movement toward learning and action. The Investigator is at the core of coaching. This Voice asks artful questions that interact in designed ways to invite the client to into new ways of seeing.
The Master and Partner provide the foundation and support for the Investigator. The remaining four Voices sharpen the process and make it real.
The first of the three "sharpening" Voices, the Reflector encourages the client to see herself more clearly. The Reflector serves as a mirror, providing perspective in the form of direct, honest feedback about the client's behaviors and choices. We tell the client things that she might not be able to hear from others, and she counts on us for it. The ability to observe her own behaviors allows her to become self-correcting. We also encourage our clients to see their strengths and the real potential they have in front of them.
The second sharpening Voice, the Teacher provides information, language, and tools for the client that helps her make new distinctions and to understand her situation differently. As the Teacher, we challenge her thinking process, and help her see new ways to approach a problem or opportunity. We question her assumptions.
The third sharpening Voice, the Guide is definitely action-oriented. The Guide brings a bias for action, and adds an impetus to the coaching conversation. The Guide knows the territory and can make recommendations for actions that might be very helpful to the client. At times, we make specific suggestions or recommendations to the client.
The Contractor is the anchor for the coaching process. She supports the client in translating the coaching work into action “on the ground.” These new choices and behaviors are what bring about the outcomes that the client wants. The Contractor provides structure, psychological accountability, and follow-up. Each of these is essential for sustainable change.