Whether you are an organisational coach, career, or life coach there are some unique skills and behaviours that truly elevate your coaching practice.
What differentiates good coaching from great? Here are some ideas from Joseph Grech, a PCC Coach and the Course Leader of our ICF accredited Coaching Diplomas.
1. Great coaches trust a lot. They coach from their heart and mind. They lead with positive intent, warmth and respect and they show it. This behaviour really shines through when a coach is fully committed to their client. They believe them and do not judge in any way. Instead their focus is to understand, care and be really, really present. When a coach works using both their heart and their mind their client notices this. They open up that little bit more, they challenge themselves that bit further, they dig that bit deeper.
2. Great coaches listen with all their senses, not just their ears. To show that you are coaching from your heart and mind you need to 1. listen with many of your senses and 2. show your client that you are listening. I prefer the word ‘sensing’ to listening, as listening inherently focuses on what we can hear. But in reality we gain information about our client through a number of different senses. We notice the client’s expressions, their general behaviour (e.g. do they always turn up late?), their mood, congruency (or not) between communication methods (e.g. are they the same over emails and in the session?) Most importantly I listen for ‘meaning’ – what is the client really trying to communicate to me?
3. Great coaches do not just focus on actions but on the whole person. The ICF calls this as focusing on the ‘who’ as well as the ‘what’ in a session. It can be easy to get wrapped up in actions, next steps and external progress. What great coaches do on top of this is to explore what these actions or changes actually mean to the client. How do they impact them? What are they learning as part of their progress on a coaching journey? What are they learning about themselves? This bridging between the actions and the person is key. This articles explores this idea more deeply.
4. Great coaches know that the session is not about them. At times new coaches tend to get (without meaning to!) distracted. This is natural. At first coaching can be daunting. New coaches might overthink their questions, how they are going to show up, what they are going to do, or over-emphasise ways to coach in a way that is compliant with ethical standards and ICF Competencies. Some of this is about the client, and their benefit of course, but focusing too much on this leads the coach to make the session more about the coach rather than the client. Asking a great question is great! Seeing the client grow and change and evolve is amazing. But, ultimately the session is not about the coach, (and the coach getting that buzz when an AHA! moment appears). It’s entirely about the client. Ask yourself, how might I be shifting the session to be more about me than them?
5. Great coaches don’t go over what the client already knows. Instead they spend more time identifying what the client wants, desire, craves or their definition of success. Focusing too narrowly on questions about the problem or a client’s challenge can limit what the client gets from a coaching session. A quick way to not do this is to ask yourself before presenting a question to the client, ‘do they already know the answer to this?’ If yes, you might wish to change it.
6. Great coaches focus on their continuous development. Coaching is not something that you develop from one course. ICF programmes, particularly those that lead to accreditation, are fantastic. They help you build a solid foundation of coaching skills that are in line with a robust code of ethics. However, great coaches know that it’s not just about getting a Diploma. Great coaches identify new ways of learning, get regular mentoring or supervision and are curious about the profession.