On one occasion, my delegate driver asked me a very simple but searching question. What did I think was the most important thing that a driver needs to improve their driving up to the advanced test? Well, I had to think about it, running my mind through ‘Roadcraft’ the police driver’s handbook, however my answer was also simple. “Attitude” I said triumphantly. I went on to remark that anyone who had come along for training, giving up their Sunday morning in the process was already displaying this just by this simple act of effort.
When I became a driving instructor though, this idea about attitude concerned me, because I realised quite early into my career as an ADI that most, if not all my clients, and this includes those that were training to become ADIs themselves, left me feeling concerned for their future both in terms of safety and especially for the PDIs their success as well as road safety, including those that they would go on to teach.
It seemed to me that for the most part, they were really mainly concerned with doing just what they really needed to do to pass their tests; be it the learner test or the ADI part 2. Their attitude was that these tests were, for want of a better expression, a hurdle. In other words, they achieved a level whereby they could get over this hurdle and then afterwards, they could just drop down the other side and carry on regardless as they were before.
Now of course, this was different for each of these two groups of people because obviously, whereas the learner drivers started generally from a point from not being able to physically drive the car up to achieving good car control skills, the PDIs of course could already drive and it was a case of really ‘cleaning up’ their performance to get through their particular test. However the level each had to achieve was not only to do with car control skills but also staying within traffic regulations, typically not exceeding speed limits, slowing down or at least reducing speed on approach to traffic lights and crossings etc. Complying with these regulations and the associated good behaviour generally keeps us safe, however, were they complying in order just to pass the test or were they complying because they had ‘bought in’ to the idea that by complying with road regulations and the associated behavioural requirement for the test, we generally maintain better road safety?
My concern therefore was always, what’s going to happen once I’m not there with them anymore? How can I as a driving instructor get inside their heads and most importantly help them to re-consider their view of the world; at least, when it comes to their behaviour as drivers?
This was a problem for me for a very long time until I started to read about coaching within driver development. I had already been introduced to business coaching and life counsellors and had discovered that their skills were very similar. The differences being in the type of subjects their clients were dealing with and the required results from these particular clients. Logically therefore, the application of coaching was more to do with bringing out the results from the person being coached or counselled rather than the coach and/or the counsellor knowing what the answer should be!
I then went on to consider sports coaches such as in tennis, golf or of course football. In his day, no one could plant a cross field pass like David Beckham however, like all professional sports starts, he had a coach as well. So what could this coach do that was better than what David Beckham could do? Surely if the coach could do it better than Beckham, then the coach should be in the team instead shouldn’t he?
The penny dropped. So coaches bring out results already within the client by some way of, well, coaching that we can’t necessarily achieve as instructors; educators; trainers; call it what you will. And they do it by doing something different from what we are, or at least I was, already doing!
Where to get this new skill though? Well I had met Sue McCormack previously on a few different occasions and more than anything, grown to trust her. I had already had positive dealings with John Farlam who was one of the founders of Tri-Coaching and decided that at least here were a couple of people that I believed in, at least when it comes to delivering something that they truly believed in.
However, I’m also a qualifications collector. I had been let down in a previous life and one of the reasons was because I didn’t have any genuine, certificated qualifications. So for me, any training has to have universally recognised certification behind it, hence taking the Tri-Coaching Partnership’s BTEC Level 4 Professional Award course in Coaching for Driver Development. BTEC is a universally recognised qualification level, no matter what field of professional endeavour it’s in.
So I took the course, along with my partner Lesley who’s also an ADI. Having achieved this, it’s changed both Lesley and me in ways that we didn’t expect. Yes of course, our training sessions are more successful plus our clients learning experience and so are our businesses. However it’s also changed each of us as a person, and at the ripe old age of 64, who would have thought that that could happen?
So be very careful if you’re considering taking up one of Tri-Coaching Partnership’s BTEC 3 or 4 courses. It might take you somewhere that you didn’t expect!!!