I firmly believe in the power of coaching. I sometimes wonder if there’s anyone who believes in it more than I do. Coaching is a gift – for both the client and the coach – and an opportunity for the client to have a safe space, a sounding board, an outside opinion, a mirror, a person dedicated to being curious and asking tough questions, and a support system.

A coach is trained to share all they can in support of their client. To listen and probe, and then tell it like they see it. But there are certain things a coach won’t tell a client, and a few things they absolutely should. And, in fact, these “do’s and don’ts” are great guidelines for leaders to also follow in order to coach their team members (or colleagues, friends, and family members) to greater success.

They won’t say:

  1. You should do this” – it’s not the coach’s job, or role, to choose a path for the client. It’s not appropriate for the coach to tell the client what to do. A coach may share their opinion, their experience, and their outside perspective, but it is always ultimately the client’s choice.
  2. “That was a stupid choice” – and when you make that choice, a coach will never tell you it was a stupid one. A coach will help you reflect to see what worked and what didn’t, both in your decision making process and in your final outcome. But a coach won’t judge you or your choices.
  3. “Shut up” – again, a coach’s job is to listen and to probe, not to tell a client to stop sharing or processing. A coach may interrupt a client, if the client seems to be going off topic or is sharing too many unnecessary details, but a coach will interrupt gently, and generally with agreement from the client that it’s okay to do that. The coach’s goal is to help the client process and move forward, and it’s always the client’s choice as to when they’re ready to do that.
  4. “You can’t do it” – a coach is a support and a cheerleader for the client. Unless it’s immoral, unethical, or illegal, a coach won’t tell a client that they can’t do something. They may suggest alternatives. They may ask the client how carefully they’ve thought the plan through, or what support they need from others in order to succeed, or what obstacles might arise and how they’ll get around them. But a coach won’t say, “You can’t do it.”
  5. “Get over it” – a coach won’t stop their clients’ processing and a coach won’t step into a situation where therapy is warranted. A coach will allow clients the space and time they need to work something through, and a coach will suggest if the client seems stuck or unwilling to move on. And a coach will recommend therapy when necessary.

A few things they will say:

  • “You’ve made great progress!”
  • “Have you thought about _____?”
  • “How else can I support you?”
  • What else do you need?
  • “I have an idea that might help.”
  • You can do it! (And what do you need to help you?)”
  • “Here’s what I’ve seen/am hearing/have noticed.”

There are many ways a coach can support you to achieve your goals, and that you, as a leader, can support others. Coaching really is a gift.

How have you used a coach and what has he or she said to you that’s been great?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

To discuss the power of coaching, and how to better coach your team, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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