We all strive for excellence in what we do. And, as a coach, there are levels of excellence we should be aiming for.
The best coaches in the world are those who can be trusted and relied on to help and support their clients in overcoming their struggles. Trust and dependability play an important role in your success as a coach.
But it ´s more than that. Truly successful coaches focus on achieving excellence in these key areas as well:
To become an effective coach, you cannot be that stranger who just shows up and tells people what to do. You need to gain their trust. You need to show interest in what´s working in their life as well as what isn´t. That´s where being a true friend comes in.
Of course, friends are not made overnight. It´s a gradual process of getting to know each other, bit by bit. Tell them something about yourself and really listen when they are sharing their thoughts and feelings with you.
It´s not unusual for coaches to become real friends with the people they coach because of the deep relationships they establish over time.
Some clients may be harder to get to know than others. That’s perfectly fine.
To establish real relationships with people who are not as open about becoming friendly with their coaches, simply be genuine in your concern for them. Be mindful of your client’s needs. When they see that you are someone they can depend on, they will be more likely to open up to you over time.
As a coach, your main job is to uplift and improve the life of the person you´re coaching.
Motivate and help your clients see the positive side of things - especially on those days when nothing seems to be going right. Support your clients in working through their challenges in a way that keeps negative thoughts and actions from tripping them up and keeping them stuck.
When it comes to coaching excellence, one of the most important skills you can master is active listening. Active listening means you are present and fully focused on the person you are speaking with.
Being present means that you are not thinking about your unpaid bills or the movie you want to watch later. Being present means you are not just aware of the words your client is speaking but you are also seeking to understand what they are saying. You are not merely sitting there, nodding as if you know what they are talking about. You actually want to be there and talk to your client, so you can understand what it is they need and what you can do to help them get it.
Being fully focused means that you are showing empathy and understanding whenever your client starts talking. You ask questions, you engage them in a meaningful discussion, and draw out the real issue they are facing. This is the first step to helping them formulate a plan and lay out an actionable strategy for solving their problem.
Regular questions help establish basic information. Powerful, thought-provoking questions, on the other hand, are the questions that will really lead to a breakthrough for your client.
When your client hits up against a roadblock, it´s not enough to simply ask what happened. As their coach, you need to help them go deeper. Ask them what led them to take the actions they did and encourage them to think about what steps they could now take to move them around the obstacle they are facing.
Powerful, thought-provoking questions help you understand what´s going through your client´s mind, so they can stop feeling stuck and get moving towards their goals again.
One way to ask powerful questions is to ask why as opposed to what. Why questions deal with motivation and the reasons they did what they did. Why questions also invite better conversations and pave the way to a deepened understanding between the two of you.
One thing that can really lead clients astray is a lack of focus. It is actually one of the primary reasons people need coaches in the first place. When a person lacks focus, it can be hard to do what needs to be done.
Your job is to provide that focus and lead your client in the right direction.
When your client has an ambitious goal, they know they want it but they may not know how to get it. Give them something to focus on to help keep them from getting distracted which will only take them off track. Help them with their strategy. Help them prioritize their actions.
That increased focus will help your client use their energy to build the momentum they need to achieve the results they want.
By a consistent presence, I am not telling you that you have to be with your clients 24/7! I simply mean that you should be there for them when they need you.
There will come a time when your client is frustrated because they feel the progress they are making is too slow or they are overwhelmed by everything that still needs to be done. Perhaps they are struggling with limiting beliefs that keep cropping up, just when they thought they´d gotten a handle on them.
This is when they need you most. As their coach and friend, you should be present to listen, advise, support and cheer them on. Being a consistent presence means caring about your client on an intensely personal level.
The best coaches are the ones who coach from the heart. They are the ones who know how to listen and who are real friends to their clients.
Aim to achieve the levels of coaching excellence we´ve talked about here and you can´t help but become that expert coach everyone wants to have on their "team".
William Holt is the go-to coach and trainer for executive women wanting to transition to coaching as a way of sharing their professional expertise with the world. He is also the creator of the Holt Coaching Method as well as the founder and leader of the LinkedIn Group - Executive Women´s Growth Forum.
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