You may already have noticed that coaching is one of my offerings and now I’d like the opportunity to share some general thoughts on it, including what I think coaching is and isn’t as well as my opinion on the client-coach relationship. I’ve used the services of a life coach a few times with nice results, so at this point it is relevant to say that I hold in high esteem the services of a traditional coach. Here, however, I’m presenting my own philosophy and reasoning as to why my services are broader and slightly more flexible. Tailored coaching combined with teaching or mentoring isn’t anything I’ve seen offered frequently, but I sincerely hope you’ll appreciate my addition to the market once you have read this blog post.
What coaching is and isn’t
Coaching and psychological/psychiatric therapy come with various preconceptions, but in my opinion both can be very useful tools in health and personal growth. The main distinction is that a coach, unless licenced as such, may offer neither psychological therapy (without prescription medication) nor psychiatric therapy (possibly with medication).
Instead, the aim of coaching is to help the client see with clarity what they want and need in life, what they want to change, and how to reach their new goals.
Personally, I think a great relationship between coach and client can happen only when the coach understands that the client is an expert on their own life. The coach steers the discussion just like a therapist (or doctor for that matter) would, only the role isn’t that of a consultant, who has all the ‘correct’ suggested next moves or answers even.
If you are seeking out the services of a coach, you know yourself and your circumstances, even when a particular situation may be tricky. Therapy isn’t the solution then, but the eyes of an outsider are asked for, who is also willing to mirror the client’s own words.
While I’m no certified coach, yet I do offer coaching, I still happen to agree with the replies presented on the International Coaching Federation’s FAQ page. My life experience as well as self-studies of various subjects have prepared me for this role nonetheless, and I’m happy to keep educating myself further in an eclectic mix of academic subjects, for your benefit and mine.
Is coaching necessary to live a prosperous and happy life? Of course not, and insinuating such is unfortunate, because a person, who enjoys tackling problems and finding solutions to them, likely would arrive at the conclusion on their own. I simply view coaching as a tool to get to the result faster. Also, the combined wisdom of two people can spark insights that otherwise might never occur.
The length of the coaching partnership
In addition to long coaching relationships, I also offer the short but hopefully sweet single sessions. Not everyone is prepared to extend the partnership beyond that for various reasons, not everyone wants or needs more than one conversation, and some may be interested in getting started only to possibly check in months later.
If a client is already well on their way in terms of reflection and self-management, I don’t see any reason to push myself onto them unnecessarily. I recognise that there are others like myself out there, desiring to do the work once they’ve nudged themselves into action with the help of a coach. This flexible approach also means that should a sudden need arise to check in after all, it’s equally welcome.
The client-coach relationship
No matter the length of a partnership, I still think that key is the client’s openness to change wherever needed, and willingness to accept responsibility for their own share.
Similarly, I take my part of the deal seriously, with ambition and respect for personal boundaries, and full commitment to the process. For me, coaching is mainly about receiving the privilege of participating in improving lives.
This interesting article by a psychologist with reader comments offers more insight, but suffice to say I think it is written very ‘I’-centered, whereas a good coach necessarily doesn’t talk much at all, but rather asks questions.
Coaching: One of five roles of a business manager
In a course on business coaching, I’ve had something of a heureka moment, which I’ve already applied in my own coaching. Perhaps you’re familiar with a business manager’s different roles: leader, manager, mentor, trainer and coach? A fantastic manager sees exactly when to step into each role, and also understands how to keep them in balance.
For that to happen, however, the manager needs to be self-aware, capable of recognising their own strengths and weaknesses, capable of self-managing, willing to admit to mistakes, and many other mature behaviours.
Frankly, I don’t see this level of self-awareness in a huge number of people, so we’re definitely talking about an ideal situation. The main point remains that this fantastic manager reads people well, puts their own needs aside when appropriate, and doesn’t act out of ego when taking any of the five roles.
This level of presence and awareness in the relationship is what I’m striving for in my coaching, too, because I strongly believe in offering only a high-quality service.
Client A: Teaching and coaching
The first time I applied this valuable lesson on the manager’s different roles, was when understanding just how well a client was on their way in terms of establishing a personal brand. My input was frequent on both a practical level (website structure etc.) as well as in more abstract terms (“Have you thought of that, too, in terms of selling your expertise?”) Had I resorted to asking questions only, instead of sharing my knowledge as well, the client wouldn’t have walked away with as many actionable things on the to-do list.
Client B: Coaching
The client was in between jobs and had no specific idea of what to do next, so instead of sharing my knowledge, I asked the occasional question when mostly listening.
Client B modified to a fictive form will become a case study in terms of what will not be a productive experience for either party, but for now I’m using this partnership to illustrate the difference between the needs of clients A and B respectively.
I’m all about results
Successful coaching means nobody’s time is wasted, but tangible results can be seen at the end of the process.
Sometimes the results are quantitative, measurable such as a yes/no or increase/decrease of a number, and other times the client experiences qualitative results, such as “less unhappy with my home” or “more productive than before.” Whether you, my potential client, wish to measure your success quantitatively or qualitatively, I still want for you to reach your goals.
For this to happen, clear communication is needed already before we begin. You need to specify what you’re asking for both from yourself and me, which means you need to have at least an idea of what to hope for in the end, so there’s something realistic for you to expect from our partnership.
Without clarity, it will be a frustrating experience for both of us, and that’s something I’ll start working on even before we begin. In other words, before we meet online or in person, the topic of discussion will be known to both.
A flexible coaching service
Since I’m all about results achieved as efficiently as possible, I want to be able to offer a more flexible service than coaching alone. If you read on ICF’s website the answer to how coaching differs from other service professions, once again I fully agree with their definitions.
On the other hand, if my client is keen on establishing an online presence to cultivate their personal brand, and has little practical knowledge on how to go about this project, in my humble opinion it makes no sense not to teach in combination with coaching. Of course I could point this person to someone else, but why do that when I already may have some answers?
The same way, if you might gain from my wisdom in relation to studying on a university level, why not add elements of mentoring to coaching? And how about if you’re unfamiliar with project management, doesn’t it make sense to be taught a quick introduction next to coaching, the main reason for working with me?
I have no interest in telling you how to live your life, but naturally the aim is to find a unique solution to apply to your life. If this includes being pointed to sources where you can learn more, or for instance in parallel with one of my e-courses being taught one-on-one something specific, I hope you see the benefit of it.
However, it happens during active listening and dynamic thinking on my part, whilst applying everything I know in that moment. No matter what your goals and projects are, they are yours rather than mine, and my only purpose in the process is to help you break down what you need to do into manageable tasks.
Lack of clarity and focus will not make you reach your desired result faster, but creating a plan with my help will, even when the thought of living up to your potential may shortly feel a bit scary. Been there, done that, so let’s move on to the actionable phase now, shall we? If I’ve piqued your interest, you’re welcome to read in more detail about my coaching!
What do you think of coaching? Have you ever hired a coach? Was it a useful experience and if yes, would you consider coaching again in the future?