Coaching students and mentees often ask how to develop their coaching skills. Newer coaches tend to be concerned with knowing which coaching approaches to use in different situations. More experienced coaches ask about how to be truly masterful in their coaching.
Underlying many of these questions I hear two deeper concerns:
- How do you know you are delivering value to your clients?
- How can you be sure you are adhering to a specific set of guidelines/standards of a credentialing association, such as the ICF? (Also known as, “How do you know you are getting it right?”)
First, consider what constitutes “value” in coaching. While coaches do support clients with achieving goals and attaining the outcomes they want, coaching is essentially about human development, not goals.
Thomas Leonard, credited with being the godfather of coaching, said, “Put people before results.”
In other words, if you will support your clients’ growth, any goals and accomplishments will be an organic by-product of that growth. Goals and actions stemming from this internal foundation are much more likely to be achievable AND sustainable.
Now THAT’s value.
While results do, of course, provide value, if all you focus on is results, you run the risk of missing the deeper value available to your client. Looking only at results is a set-up for you and your client to use goals and actions as band-aids™. Said another way, “chasing outcomes” can be a deliciously seductive distraction from deeper Truths wanting to surface.
Chasing outcomes, or focusing only on results, can lead to goal-setting that is totally head or ego based, with goals that may not be easily attained or sustained. Few things are more disheartening than setting goals that aren’t achievable or sustainable.
You may feel as if you’re delivering value by focusing primarily on, “What actions will you take this week?” or “How can you take action on that now?” But if these actions aren’t grounded in the client’s self awareness, they may not be as fruitful as they could be.
Remember: We’re talking about “effective coaching” and real value. Sometimes your clients may not know what will serve them best. Rushing to outcomes and actions without related exploration may actually be counter-productive – and not terribly valuable to your client.
And, by the way – if all you want to focus on is results and you function best in telling others how to achieve desired results, then call yourself a consultant. There is a market for people who tell others what to do, and you may be very good at this. If so, live long and prosper! Just realize what you are doing is consulting and not coaching.
But if your heart calls you to be deeply present with another human being in a discovery process, then trust this call. And know that just being fully present and listening from your heart can provide incredible value.
And as for item #2 above: The whole “getting it right” thing? Ultimately, providing value IS getting it right! So my recommendation is to go for value first and then – and only then – work with a seasoned mentor coach on how to integrate your natural coaching style with any credentialing standards that concern you.
In short: Relax into your work as a coach so you can be more fully present and deeply engaged with your clients.
Not sure what this means or how to do it? If you have questions about how to do this “relaxing” so you can trust the value you bring, contact me.
And – watch this space for more on providing value. Coming soon:
10 (Easy!) Ways You Can Offer Value In Your Coaching NOW