“Coaching is a service. We serve our clients and have their well-being as the higher priority.” – Michael J. Marx
By earning a few credentials and setting up shop, anybody can become a coach. However, to be a good coach who ensures positive change both in their as well as their client’s life, you need to constantly be learning and refining your skills. Coaching is not a stagnant or boring vocation, it is a constantly developing, dynamic career that touches and improves the lives of millions. So, how do you go from being a coach to a good coach? Ask yourself this question, which also serves as a reminder that ultimately, success highly relies on your willingness to invest and improve yourself and your chosen career. To get you started, here are 10 tips on how to uplevel your coaching.
Create a Safe Environment: Coaching is a non-judgmental profession. Creating a safe environment for the clients not only helps them open to you but also makes it easier for the client to hear what you have to say, hence aiding and speeding up the process of transformation. Your client needs your 100% support, and you need your client’s unconditional trust. An over-critical, disapproving or negative environment will be extremely detrimental to the practice of coaching. Be it online or in-person, your client should be comfortable and trusting enough for the coaching to work effectively and give positive and favorable results.
Be a good and active listener: This is a very integral step to being a great coach. The 80/20 rule of active listening is essential as a coach; you listen 80% of the time and speak for only 20% of the session. More than being a good listener, a coach needs to be an effective and active listener. Active listening is not just about hearing, it is about understanding the intentions and feelings that are underlying in the conversation. Your client needs your full attention while in a session - avoid being on your phone or multi-tasking while listening to your client.
Do not set up an agenda for each session: Each client and each session with a client is extremely different. You will not know what they are bringing to the table at the start of every session so be prepared to be surprised. Do not enter a session with an agenda for the day and do not meet with a client with an expectation of the outcome. Not only can it reduce the joy that comes from coaching, but it can also harm the progress that has happened so far.
Keep the end goal in mind: Every step of the coaching process should be catered towards achieving the end goal set up with the client at the beginning of the process. Establish the client’s end goals as well as their long-term goals before beginning the sessions so that the clients will leave satisfied. Learn their expectations from the coaching and why they want to achieve their end goal so that you can streamline your coaching to fit their needs. After all, the client’s happiness and well-being are the final and utmost priority of any coach.
Focus on the HOWs and the WHATs: The goal in coaching is to incite answers from the client themselves and not to provide answers. To achieve this goal, make use of open-ended questions and give special attention to the HOWs and the WHATs. This leads to the clients thinking for themselves and reaching a conclusion or an answer on their own. Try your best to avoid any WHY questions - these questions tend to be more confrontational and can lead to closed-off answers from the client.
Employ the GROW Model: The GROW Model is an acronym for Goal, Reality, Options and Will. The model acts as a blueprint for you to follow in your coaching journey. The model also reinforces the fact that the coach acts as a facilitator for the client and assumes that the coach is not the expert in the client’s situation, but simply a mediator who helps the client selects the best options without offering any advice or direction. Simply a means to an end, the GROW model guides coaches on helping their clients to improve performance and to plan and reach their end goals.
Keep your ego aside: During coaching, your client takes the priority not you or your thoughts and feelings. Keep your ego and pride from interfering during coaching. Assume that coming to a conclusion via self-discovery holds much more value to the client than being given the solution to their problems. A coach’s role is only to serve as a means to the end goal the client desires and not to give them the solution to their problems. Keeping the ego aside can also help facilitate a better relationship without any power dynamics.
Be supportive yet firm: All clients need support during coaching, but the aim is to keep the sessions challenging. Support their thoughts and feelings without invalidating them and at the same time, stretch their thinking and self-imposed limits. There can be situations where the clients can be avoiding or denying something important and, in these situations, a firm yet gentle guiding hand needs to be given. Constantly reassure the client that although you are on their side, you need to push them out of their comfort zone to achieve their end goal.
Invest in yourself: “Invest in as much of yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.” quotes Warren Buffet. The best way you can lead someone to helping themselves is by helping yourself. Learn, grow, improvise and refine yourself, your knowledge and your skills. Maybe even take the help of a coach. Even the biggest and the best coaches have their own set of coaches and mentors. If you don’t use coaching yourself, how can you recommend coaching to your clients?
Practice what you preach: Although coaches don’t necessarily preach, it is extremely important that you take your own advice. Live the way that you encourage your clients to and practice what you tell your clients to do. Be it following a morning routine or keeping a daily journal, do what you think would be beneficial to you. Your goals are as important as your client’s goals and when you’re not with a client, make sure that you cater to your needs and desires first.
Although these tips are not the ‘be- all end- all’ of being a good coach, they sure are a good starting point. Coaching is a continuous journey, and it evolves as you do. So, keep evolving and keep upleveling!