Coach the who, not (just) the what. Coach the who, not the what.

It’s a near-mantra you likely have heard in your coach training.

Question is, what does it mean? And how do you know when you’re doing it?


Short answer: Get present.

Observe and include who your coachee is in the present moment. From within present moment, notice how your coachee is being: Excited. Thoughtful. Tentative, rash, somewhere in between. Clear, convicted or confused. Chatty, withdrawn, curious, frustrated….

Can you provide value and results if you focus only on situation, facts and outcomes? If you never include you client’s way of being? Sure you can…to a point.

 But if you want to provide lasting value with sustainable results for your clients, who your client is needs to be fully included in your coaching conversation.

You know those pivot-point moments in coaching? When your client does more than agree to try on a new behavior. When they actually reorient around a whole new way of seeing something. Thinking changes. Old beliefs topple like dominos. Possibility moves out of the shadows and your client can reach out and touch it.

When you work with the who instead of only the what, you offer your client opportunity for more pivot-point moments.

We’re talking change, baby. Life-altering, identity-shaping, here to stay and take root C.H.A.N.G.E.

Focusing only on the what will not get you or your client there. And to interact with the who, you need to be present. Fully, deeply present in the moment.

Consider: How are you present? What are you present to in your coaching? And how does how you are present impact your demonstration of a specific competency, Coaching Presence?

Coaching Presence is a reflection of your capacity to BE fully present in the moment, and from that space, to notice and powerfully engage with whatever is there in that moment, in service to your client’s growth.

Did you get that? BE fully present so you can notice and powerfully engage:

  • With the lens through which your client views her situation, not just the situation itself.
  • With the feelings he has about the situation and about himself.
  • With her hopes, dreams and un-articulated vision.
  • With the truth hovering just below the surface, waiting to be illuminated so your client can grow.
  • With the almost imperceptible energetic shift that tells you he’s just beginning to touch a new awareness with the potential to unlock his world.


Okay, okay – you respond – I get why we need the who. But how do I get there? What do I DO?

 The truth is, you can’t DO presence. It is a way of being.

And the path to being requires practice, consistent practice over time. Diligence. Commitment. Devotion.

  • Practice becoming fully present.
  • Commit to expanding your present-moment bandwidth.
  • Be diligent in noticing when and how you are most present so you can build on this.
  • Become as devoted to being present as you are to giving your clients value.

If you want some nuts and bolts techniques for practicing devotion to your quality of presence, be sure to listen to the replay of the July H&S live program. It will reassure those parts of your psyche who insist on DO-ing something and give you a rich place to focus your commitment to your coaching, your clients, and of course, your continuing evolution as a coach.

In devotion to your coaching success,


***Members of the H&S community receive a monthly email with the link to access the recording of that month’s program. If you are not yet a member of the H&S community you can join here. (And with no charge and no commitment required, why wouldn’t you?)

If you wish to use the H&S monthly programs to collect continuing ed hours for a coach credential renewal, email me.