As an Executive Coach, I have coached individuals from Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America – I have noticed that while many things culturally can shift with clients, there are some common themes you can deploy as a coach to help improve your client experience.
In this short article, I share my “Simple and Super 7” things to focus on; so, you can be an awesome coach and ensure you leave your Coachee feeling great!
1) They want you… and they need you
To get real progress from the get go – there has to be meaningful buy in from the person you are coaching. Often when coaching is imposed, it can take some time to really build the appetite for change. Whereas – if the coachee has already recognised they need to be coached and it’s you they want – anything is possible!
2) You dig each other
Much has been written that the coachee should take time to invest in selecting the right coach. Screen the Coach well and test them to see if there is rapport to match the credentials – for sure! I totally subscribe to that. Less however is written about how the Coach may feel about some Coachee’s. As a professional coach, I take real pride in my objectivity about personalities et al, and every client gets unbiased conversation and support. It is however, still a choice for us Coaches too. If the coaching relationship isn’t working for the Coach – then invest some time in the relationship before bailing out on the coachee. The more rapport and affinity you have the better the communication, candour, support and challenge can be had. But if there is no Chemo – let go!
3) Goal relevance
Taking time out up front, with clear conversation and exploration about the end game is essential. It should take time, after all, your coachee may not be clear what they want to achieve to start with and often think they have “an idea” where you can help. In my experience about 70% of the time, where we start our conversation isn’t where we land on our coaching goals! Make sure you focus on the things that matter and don’t get distracted into other chit chat. Keep the goals few but super relevant. Too many goals – the less likely they will achieve them.
4) No agenda
Have no idea what to expect. Sounds crazy, right? I absolutely invest bunches of time getting to know the learning, communication and personality style of my Coachee, however when it comes to having an agenda – the only agenda I have is to be in their service. I let their thinking and feeling dictate where we go in our conversations. Assume nothing – assume makes an ASS out of U and ME. This approach is one step closer to awesomeness as you are truly led by the coachee – and this is fun too!
5) Be in the moment
Before you coach make sure you are mentally prepared to coach. That means having a clear mind, nothing spinning around in your head that could unconsciously impact on your communication. Don’t take that call or read that email just before your session – it maybe something that impacts on your mood or your thinking. In order to be truly present with your client, you need zero distractions. Being present and holding your client in the moment is a wonderful skill and provides fantastic space for them to think and feel safe. Struggling to switch off? Try meditation or mindfulness techniques – they deserve “you in their” moment.
6) It’s not all about you
I Know a vast majority of coaches put their clients first – all awesome coaches do. Recognising others who can help your client, other professionals, colleagues or other approaches is also a significant part of being an awesome coach. We may unlock many thoughts and ideas, we may mentor and provide ideas if our clients need help. A change of voice and source can also breathe new life in to a long-standing coaching relationship. A change is as good as a rest after all!
7) Don’t be plastic be fantastic
Showing you give a damn may seem obvious trait for a coach. As a recipient of coaching, I have on occasion felt like I was in a process, the coach was going through motions – they were slightly disingenuous and as such I felt it, so I didn’t buy in to the relationship. Learning a many models approach to coaching and mentoring is important, so you have the breadth of insights and experience. As important to your credentials is genuinely showing an interest in their outcomes and feeling part of facilitating that with them. I can honestly say without fail – I’m mentally and emotionally to a point, invested in every one of my coaching clients. Don’t confuse mentally and emotionally invested with anything other than humbly caring. It’s not my journey it’s theirs – but as sure as Christmas is in December, I understand the pleasure and pain that they experience on that journey. Empathy and authenticity as a coach will help cement a truly awesome experience for you both.
Steve Rush is the author of the best-selling book, Leadership Cake and a renowned global expert in leadership and communication, Steve is drawing on his experience with extremes of leadership styles. Now an Executive Coach and CEO of Improov Consulting, he coaches, trains and supports leaders including main board executives including CEOs of global organisations.