When I first trained as a coach (over 22 years ago now!) one of the absolute no-nos was to give advice. We were told that was not coaching.
But one of the things I see and hear during mentoring sessions is coaches giving their opinions and making suggestions to their clients without being asked.
It’s often done with the best of intentions but it actually limits what the client can achieve.
It can be tempting for a coach to think that their value lies in sharing resources and finding solutions to their client’s problems- in other words to fix.
But this can be counter-productive.
When a coach automatically suggests solutions or gives their opinion or resources to a client , especially when the client hasn’t asked for them, the coach has put themselves in the position of expert or mentor.
The dynamic in the relationship changes and becomes hierarchical.
The client can then become dependent on the coach to provide the answers.
It ceases to be a partnership and becomes about the coach as expert.
“Coach” as Expert
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of suggesting books,tools, resources, models because we want to help but when the coach suggests a solution or resources without invitation from the client the coach is taking a leading, directive approach whether it be teaching, consulting or mentoring.
This does not reflect a coaching mindset.
So what do you do if the client asks for resources and tools?
This can be avoided by being clear up front, when you co-create the coaching agreement at the beginning of the coaching relationship, that as a coach you will not be giving advice or providing the answers but you will help your client to find them out for themslves.
If they do subsequently ask then ask questions to find out exactly what they want to achieve, what type of resources they need and where they could find them.
This helps the client to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on you as coach.
( If you do have a relevant resource then you can follow up by email after the coaching session. This maintains the integrity of the partnership during the sessions).
The Definition of Coaching
According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF)
“ Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.”
And the Coach’s Role is to :
- Discover, clarify and align with what the client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
I believe that our job as coaches is to hold a safe space for the client to be able to share, pause, reflect and express what they are thinking and feeling.
It’s about helping to evoke awareness for our clients and not about giving them our solutions to their problems which can be disempowering.
Self-discovered answers are far more powerful and empowering for the client because they are unique and meaningful to them.
- Be really clear on your role- is it coach, mentor, consultant?
- If it is coach then hold back from giving suggestions, offering tools, resources and other expertise
- Instead trust your coaching skills as you develop your coaching mindset
- Educate your client on how the coaching partnership works
- Enjoy seeing what happens when the client gets that break through realisation for themselves!
When you hold a safe space, to listen with curiosity and no judgement and ask questions that challenge the client’s thinking,
that’s when the magic happens!
And that’s the true power of coaching.
Until next time,
P.S. How to develop a coaching mindset is one of the things we cover on the Coach Development and ICF Mentoring Programme.
Click on the link to find out more.