To Be or Not To Be

April 23, 2012

To be or not to be…

Gary Lyons, a senior TAI coach

 People often ask me what do I do as a coach at TAI.

It’s not an easy question to answer.

It’s like asking a mother or a father what do they do – it’s many things involved with bringing up a child until they reach maturity.

Likewise with coaching a client – it’s many things involved with getting them to be authentic in front of an audience of one or one hundred.

And, like I’ve heard many parents say if they have more than one child, what worked with bringing up Hamlet does not necessarily work with Horatio!

And so with clients it’s the same thing, what worked for one of my CFO clients might not work for another CFO.

So my answer now, when people ask me “What do I do?” is “I coach my clients to ‘be’.”

Having been a theatre director, I find it’s very similar to working with actors on a play inasmuch as actors each work differently and at a different pace. As a director you have to know how to get the best out of each actor without stifling or getting in the way of their creative journey.

It’s also about asking the right questions and that’s what I do a lot of when I’m working with a client.

Most of the coaching sessions with a client are 4 to 5 hours long.

One of the reasons is the need to get them out of their world and in to ‘our’ world.

If you were a fly on the wall you might think that the first hour of the session was just chatting and bemoaning the various ‘issues’ the client is having at work. But in fact a lot of information gathering is going on which is stored in the computer in my head. This is then accessed when working on their sessions dealing with their “Philosophy of Leadership” or the “Declaration of Their Values” or “Personal Vision” for themselves and their company or discovering what are their “Essential Drivers.”

The programs we do with our clients usually start with some basic tools regarding presenting.

Just like actors who have to know stage craft, how to be in relationship with the other actors, the audience, the set, how to produce their voice correctly so they can do 8 performances a week.

But also, just like actors, if the “character” work has not been done and the audience is not convinced that they are “grieving because their father the King has been murdered”, all the stage craft and voice work in the world will not help.

So that’s what I do.

I ask clients the right questions.

I give clients tools.

But most importantly I work with my clients on the ‘character’ work without stifling or getting in the way of their creative journey.

What are their values?

What is their point of view?

What is their philosophy of leadership?

What is their language, their way of expressing themselves?

What makes them get out of bed everyday?

What drives them?

Once they get clear on these, the ‘magic’ starts to happen.

Somehow they seem very natural in front of an audience.

They have presence.

They speak from their authentic voice.

They have relevant, poignant stories to tell.

They have a rapport with the audience.

There is humor.

There is drama.

There is suspense.

We sense we are in the company of someone who is authentic.

We are watching someone ‘being.’


Gary Lyons is a Senior Coach at The TAI Group leading individual engagements and group workshops in Leadership and Communications.