In honor of International Coaching Week, February 6 through 12, I am posting a series of short articles about coaching.
How does a coach go about supporting clients in creating what they want? There are many techniques, approaches, tools, and exercises available for coaches. Today I’m going to discuss in broad terms how a coach might go about helping a client achieve his or her goals.
A relationship between coach and client, first and foremost, is focused on the client. A person comes to a coach with a goal in mind–something to achieve, create, or change. The coach honors that goal and helps the client keep it in mind as they drill down to specific action steps together. The coach holds an objective viewpoint (as objective as possible, this is often called “coach position”) to help the client see a bigger picture and rise above distractions. The coach holds the client accountable for his or her commitments.
In a coaching relationship (lasting anywhere from a few sessions to more long-term work), the coach is responsible for the following:
- Asking powerful questions that elicit the client’s inner resourcefulness
- Keeping the client focused on the big, overall goals
- Providing a safe, creative space where the client’s creativity can come forth
- Respecting and honoring clients’ views of the world—they are the experts in their lives
- Helping clients see the bigger, broader connections of their choices, changes, and growth
- Encouraging the client to dream
- Maintaining a clean “coach position” and not offering opinions, judgment, analysis, or advice
- Communicating clearly and directly
- Holding clients accountable as they request
A single coaching session is essentially a powerful conversation. Whether it is held over the phone or in person (or virtually), a coaching session creates a space and time in which the client can be focused on his or her goals, creativity can flow, and new options are explored. Thinking and beliefs can be examined, changed, and boosted. A coaching session can be a welcome “oasis” for a client, who may be so busy with day-to-day tasks and activities that an hour to focus on the future and desired goals helps him or her create true momentum for change and transformation.
In a coaching session, the coach might do any or all of the following:
- Step into coach position, and listen powerfully to questions asked
- Match the client’s energy, body language, vocal tone
- Check in to see how things went with the client’s action items from the previous session
- Ask what the goal for the session is and be sure it is clearly stated and measurable
- Inquire about how achieving that goal will help things change for the client, asking whether it is compatible with the overall goal and life values of the client (connecting to big picture).
- Invite the client to brainstorm on how he or she might go about making that change or reaching that goal
- Offer exercises, tools, and techniques that could help a client get “unstuck” or tap into deeper resources (it is the client’s choice whether to make use of these tools)
- Keep the client focused on him- or herself and on the future
- Help the client choose among potential action items to develop a plan to implement
- Ask how the client will remain committed to the action plan and how he or she wants the coach to follow up
A trained and experienced coach has many other tools to offer clients in a session or across a working relationship. The description here is very broad!
Tomorrow: The Education of a Coach