I was having a conversation with a client yesterday. He and I both went through the same coaching certification program, IPEC.
(PS: If you’re looking for a certification program, IPEC is the bee’s knees.)
A certification program will teach you that the true definition of coaching is to ask open ended questions, reflect back what you hear, and avoid giving advice because clients already have the answers. Your job is simply to help them realize the answer on their own.
Great advice. Yet, I rarely follow that model.
Yes, I ask open ended questions, and yes I reflect back what I hear, but if I have an idea or a resource that I think would be good for my client and their goals, I don’t hesitate to share it.
I call this style of coaching “mentorship.”
For my client and fellow IPEC grad, however, this is easier said than done.
He has trouble reconciling his role as a well-trained coach who was taught to refrain from giving advice and a coach who can fast-track his clients results by sharing his ideas, advice and direct feedback.
So, how do you honor your client’s unique process, trust that they truly do have all the answers, and also give them what they’ve actually signed up for: your expertise and guidance?
Because, in my opinion, people don’t hire me because they want me to help them explore their inner feelings about how they’re going to grow their business. They hire me because they want to learn from my experience.
So here’s how I strike the balance…
Rule #1: I offer advice with an asterisk.
That might be something like, “I have experience with this if it would be helpful…”
Or, “I have some feedback for this. How about I share what worked for me, and then we can talk about how to make it your own.”
Rule #2: Let your clients discover next steps.
Once you offer your experience or advice, ask them how they might apply it to their unique circumstances.
That might look like this…
“Since this resonated with you, what are the next steps you might take to make this your own?”
That way they’ll have a roadmap in their own words and based on a foundation of experience instead of feelings and crossed fingers.
So, here’s where I stand: If your client only wanted you to ask them questions, they would hire a therapist.
And that doesn’t mean that, as a business mentor, internal feelings don’t come up. They do. And thanks to my training as a coach, I can absolutely help clients work through that stuff. But it’s not the only thing I do, and I don’t think it should be the only thing you do as a coach, either.
In my opinion, you’re truly of service when you are willing to draw on your own ideas and experience, while giving the client the final say.
Where do you stand on this? Let me know below…