Coach Richard Nugent shares his expertise and knowledge in today’s guest post as he invites you to:
Explore Some Half Truths Of Coaching.
I love writing articles for this blog. Mainly because I know the readers are like-minded and ready to learn. With this in mind this particular piece focuses on some of the beliefs that I often see coaches holding that can limit the impact they have with their clients or even their business.
My aim isn’t to offend or even to challenge your beliefs, rather to get you thinking about the ‘professional beliefs’ that you could review to help you to be even more successful.
Remember that one of the indicators of intelligence is the ability to comfortably hold two opposing views. Writing this has helped me to notice how much my beliefs have shifted over my coaching career and explore my intelligence! I hope reading it does the same for you.
Half-truth number 1 – You can’t ‘tell’ when coaching.
Really? Who says? I am not sure exactly where the rule came from, but coach must always stay out of content is certainly a very commonly held view. In my experience, the ‘none content’ phase is a useful stage in a coach’s development. For example one of my clients is a large bank. As part of their leadership development we help them to have great coaching sessions that avoid tell. It makes a real difference to them, their people and their results.
AND…recently another client of mine called me. He is a football (soccer) manager and had an imminent meeting with his Chairman to discuss transfer budgets. He wanted influencing strategies and quick. ‘How do you think you should influence him’, just wouldn’t have helped in that situation, with that client. He wanted a strategy, I gave him it and it worked. Job done, and in my view still coaching.
My final analogy is cabin crew on an aircraft. When it comes to the drinks trolley they can coach me to my preferred outcome all they like. If we need to evacuate the plane, I don’t want them to use great questions to draw out the best route from me.
Half-truth number 2 – Clients outcomes are always right.
I recently heard an eminent coach say, “the problem with client outcomes is that they are normally sh*t.” A strong view and one that took me aback. However, think carefully about your coaching experiences, how often do the outcomes that the client brings end up being what you really need to work on? How often do they change? I am sure that you will have many instances where over the course of a coaching relationship the original goals and outcomes are forgotten.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t explore and agree outcomes with clients AND they shouldn’t limit us. A client I worked with last year was adamant that the focus of our sessions should only be building her business and that any beliefs shifts that were needed would be dealt with on the NLP Master Practitioner Programme she was attending at the time. I stuck to the agreement and regretted it. To serve her best I should have focused more on what was needed session by session even if it meant her original outcomes weren’t met in full.
Half-truth number 3 – It is your responsibility to work with the clients until they are ‘done’.
Ok so we should never leave clients in the lurch. I have heard awful examples of coaches and therapists bringing issues to the surface and not having the time, energy or resources to help their client to a more resourceful place. Practices like this give our profession a bad name.
AND I believe that it is a healthy practice for coaches to end relationships with clients. Here are some signs that it’s time to consider firing a client;
- You are coaching on the same thing and at the same level you were last year.
- Coaching sessions with them leave you in a less resourceful state than you were before.
- Coaching sessions with them leave them in a less resourceful state than before.
- You resent coaching them for any reason, including financial or emotional.
- You only took them on for the money or because you didn’t have any clients and now your practice and/or bank account has built up.
If any of these seem a little hard-nosed then they come from a belief that we almost always get the best results with clients that we love coaching. We have a responsibility to test our relationships regularly.
Half-truth number 4 – People have all of the resources they need.
In the opening to this article I mentioned that I wanted to help you to explore your beliefs and half-truth number 4 certainly led me to challenge and question mine.
I do fundamentally operate from a belief that people do have the resources to achieve whatever they want to. So that is a tick in that column right? What happens when they can’t see or feel that resourcefulness at all?
Take this example. Client A is a coach whose business is in trouble and as a result their finances are in dire straits. Their coach is not only highly successful – financially and otherwise – but also a longtime colleague and friend.
Is the coaches’ first step to help their client to be clear on what success looks like? Or to help them to into a really powerful and resourceful state so they can take massive action. Or is their first step to lend (or gift) them some money so they can get by?
Lending them money would suggest a belief that Client A didn’t have the resources, but if you were in a position to, wouldn’t you at least consider it?
Many moons ago I asked a colleague for some coaching after I led a pretty rocky workshop. She gave me the choice of a coaching session or just some time when she told me how great I was. She was building my resources rather than just believing in my resourcefulness but it was just the intervention I needed.
Half-truth number 5 – You always have to have great rapport when you coach.
I told a group of budding coaches recently that “rapport in coaching is everything. Except when it’s not.”
I still get quite taken aback by the number of coaches with a strong NLP background who forget the ‘lead’ part of pace-pace-lead. I often find that a mismatch or purposeful break of rapport is the most powerful part of the session.
I spoke to a coach about this recently who was opposed to ever ‘stepping out of the clients world view.’ It seems an interesting thought when I have often seen the likes of Richard Bandler getting great results by going straight to ‘lead’.
Half-truth number 6 – Great coaching must always have a clear end result.
Two years ago I invested tens of thousands of pounds in an intensive coaching relationship with Michael Neill. It was amazing, powerful, intense, world shifting and worth every penny. Yet I can’t really tell you what the end result was – other than a big shift. I can tell you some of the key learning’s but then that doesn’t really do justice to the power of the experience.
It is vital that clients feel that they are getting value for money and that they can express the value of the coaching relationship but the wonderful complexity of human nature and the fabulous array of ‘stuff’ that we do as coaches and with that nature leads me to question how often a specific end result is the most useful measure of a coaching relationship.
I would love you to have finished this article either having your beliefs challenged or reaffirmed. I mind much less whether you agree or not. This brings me onto the last point that I would love share with you.
In recent months I have experienced a greater degree of ‘crab mentality’ among coaches (click here to learn about crab mentality). Rather than celebrating and exploring other coach’s approaches and techniques I have found others in the field all too quick to label them as old, bad or wrong.
I think it’s a great time for us all to re-examine our approaches, beliefs and understanding and open up to what more we can learn and be.
About the Author/Further Resources
Richard is the M.D. of Twenty One Leadership and has coached talented people from the fields of sport and business for the last decade. Clients have credited him with everything from million pound transfers to the creation of new market leading organisations. The return on investment from his programmes stretches into the millions of Pounds, Euros and Dollars.