I was at lunch with a friend yesterday, enjoying pizza and a salad at Little Deli sandwich and pizza shop. He asked what a successful coaching relationship looked like.Here you’ll find 13 elements of an amazing coaching relationship, plus four things that just don’t work. Spoiler: even with an amazing coach, successful clients must be coachable.
Overview Of An Amazing Coaching Relationship
- A person has a problem or opportunity so big they can’t solve it on their own
- That person is willing to seek and ask for help in that area. They can:
- Define the problem or opportunity. They have enough awareness and understanding of the problem they can have a candid conversation about it and its impact.
- Define some challenges to overcome that problem or opportunity. A person who is unable to articulate one or more challenges may need to continue the inquiry of exactly what is the problem or opportunity and its impact.
- Define strengths around overcoming that problem or opportunity. A person who is unable to articulate even a single strength may not be ready to discuss the problem or opportunity objectively. It will take some belief in the possibility of overcoming the problem or opportunity before progress will be possible.
- Define possible outcomes of resolving the problem or opportunity. Here’s where the possibility begins to become real.
- An effective coach will support and empower their client to:
- Elaborate the problem or opportunity
- Define the solution
- Create the support they need to deliver their result, and
- Support and empower them to delivery of the result
Participants Of An Amazing Coaching Relationship
Traits Of Someone Who’s Amazingly Coachable
A person who’s being coached needs to be coachable. Here are some traits of a coachable person:
- Has a problem or opportunity, goal or mission so big they can’t resolve it alone
- Has a problem that will make a real big lasting difference in their life or community or the world
- Is fun or brilliant or otherwise attractive to others they need on their team. Big goals need big teams. Someone who is not attractive to others, or who is intolerable or unkind, is not attractive, and will find it difficult to build a team of meaningful size. This is self-limiting behavior.
- Are willing to do anything necessary to deliver on this promise. A person who insists on remaining in their comfort zone and doing what they’ve always done is not ready to get a different result. They are not coachable.
- Inspires and is willing to enroll others in their mission. This may just be the coach. If a really big goal, it will involve a big team. Or if small, (e.g. health and fitness) it may be just coach + family and friends.
Traits Of An Amazingly Effective Coach
An effective coach’s 100% and only role is to support and empower their client to meet their coaching-related goals. Appropriately supported and empowered people deliver results. Amazingly effective coaches:
- are supportive and empowering.
- leave their clients in an empowering context.
- coach their clients to create and sustain empowering context.
- create the space for new opportunities for action. They make powerful requests for either new actions that their client is not taking and/or stopping some action they are currently taking. A coach gets their client to do the things they don’t want to do to get to where they say they want to go.
- It is my running coach’s job to support and empower me to meet my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Period.
- It is my coaching coach’s job to support and empower me to meet my goal of creating a successful coaching business.
- It is my life coach’s job to support and empower me to meet my goal of having a life I love.
- It’s my business coach’s job to support me in creating sustainable products, businesses, and income.
- It is my health coach’s job to support and empower me to have the best health of which I’m capable.
These are mutual agreements between myself and these coaches. I would expect them to agree with these statements, because we’ve met about my goals and our roles around achieving them.
Things An Amazing Coach Is Not
It is not a coach’s job to:
- do the work for their client to get what they want. In fact, that is the client’s job.
- seek and provide comfort for their client. Personal development is potentially the most uncomfortable and sometimes even painful thing a human can experience. A good coach will recognize that personal transformation is, in part, about getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
- tell a client what they can’t do. Short of things that are harmful or illegal, a coach’s job is to enable, not disable.
- lobby for different results than their client is seeking (short of those that are harmful or illegal).
- I’ve had multiple doctors tell me one thing or another is necessarily a negative impact on my quality of life. That’s just how it is. I’ll die that way. I should stop running. My allergies are here to stay. Eventually my thyroid gland will burn itself out and I’ll need to be on prescription pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life. Their limited view is unacceptable. There are others who have a more empowered view, and who are willing to explore other possibilities. I choose possibility! They may be great doctors for people with other goals. Also not consistent with my values.
- I once had a nutrition and health coach who was well aware of my running goals from the moment we started our relationship. She told me she wasn’t concerned how or whether my diet affected my running. In fact, she said her nutrition coaching might negatively impact my running, and she didn’t care. Since she also billed herself as a life coach, I was surprised to hear her speak those words. I understand there’s a possible view that reckless imbalance could be unhealthy, but it’s also critical that we balance all aspects of a life. Given her limited view of what was possible in my life, and her inability to support me in all my goals, it became clear she wasn’t the nutrition coach for me. She may be a great coach for many other people with other concerns and interests. Her limited view was not consistent with my values.
Consider And Act
- Have you experienced a good coach in your life? What results did you achieve as a result?
- Have you experienced a poor coach in your life? How did the relationship go? When did you know it was time to find another coach?
- Have you ever been uncoachable? When did you realize it?
- Do you have a problem or opportunity that would be worth seeking a coach’s assistance? Can you describe it? Are you willing to ask for help?
- Share advice, information, or referrals on this topic in the comments box below. I appreciate your contribution and will use it to improve!
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Also published on Medium.