Everywhere you turn these days, you seem to run into coaches. But how do you know if coaching is right for you?
Broadly, coaches help clients identify and make progress toward one or more goals. They help clients get from where they are, to where they want to be.
Ascent’s coaching clients are seeking assistance primarily with goals related to executive and leadership development. They want to find new ways to grow their companies or find professional success.
When changing habits or behaviors accountability is essential for success.
Coaching sessions are great check points for clients, and some clients even ask for check ins between sessions - usually a quick text or email for a status update.
Coaches help keep clients focused on the objectives they've identified, both short-term and long-term.
As an ICF certified coach, I follow the ICF’s client-focused framework. This is not a one-size-fits-all or pre-canned multi-step program that you may encounter with other coaches.
Rather, the ICF framework is designed to help the client generate new insights and learning around specific issues. The client can then decide whether and how to integrate those insights and that new learning into their goal achievement strategies.
Clients are creative, resourceful, and whole. Coaching is designed to reveal those capabilities and empower the client for success.
Reflection & Preparation
Sometimes clients just need to brainstorm or talk through a particular issue. Coaching sessions can be space to double check and reaffirm strategies, as well as for creating them.
To paraphrase the ICF definition of coaching, coaches act as “thinking partners” with our clients.
ICF coaches help their clients examine their current perspectives and discover new ones.
This could be asking the client about a new angle on a specific matter, or stepping back and asking why and how that specific matter fits into the client’s “bigger picture” goals.
New perspectives can inspire new ways of thinking. Coaches help clients shine a light on previously unexplored perspectives and inquire about what the client sees from that new vantage point.
One of my clients runs a growing manufacturing and sales company. I’ve worked with them for several years in an advisory role which has included coaching.
Each session could be put into the “structure” and “perspective” categories. This client always has specific topics and clear objectives in mind for each session.
Additionally, the client examines in every session how and why that unique topic rose to importance in the context of the client’s big, higher-order goals.
Several other clients often use coaching for the “reflection & preparation” category. This has meant helping clients prepare themselves for an upcoming presentation, a personnel review, or a high-level meeting.
In these instances, coaching sessions focus on what the client still needs in order to feel confident and prepared, and how they will get to that state.
Finally, sessions occasionally fall into the “accountability” and “structure” categories. In these cases, the coaching session usually focuses on helping the client create a strategy or outline an action plan for a particular issue.
Coda: My Own Experience as a Coaching Client
I have been working with an ICF certified coach regularly since late 2019. Yes, I am also a CLIENT because I know just how beneficial coaching is!
Regular coaching gives me access to new perspectives which creates opportunities for learning and growth.
I choose topics by asking a very broad question: “What does my business need at the moment, and how do I create that?”
Sometimes that question generates a specific topic. Sometimes that question IS the topic.
Regardless of the topic, my coaching sessions give me dedicated time and a “thinking partner” to help me go to work on my business. It has been a very valuable addition to my personal and professional development plan.
About the Author:
Matt Beckmann is the Founder & Managing Director of Ascent Consultants. In addition to experience as a former Chief of Staff to the Missouri Auditor and as a Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, he has advanced training and certifications in law, business, and executive coaching. His blog content, inspired by his deep passion for unlocking his reader's best potential, consistently equips business owners and individuals with the knowledge and resources to overcome obstacles that may be hindering growth.
Ascent Consultants provides business and strategy consulting, executive and leadership coaching, and leadership assessments. By converting client growth goals into an actionable "game plan," we help companies and individuals unlock their full potential.