As a business coach over the past 13 years, here’s what I have discovered: Everyone is silently begging to be led. Now there are two schools of coaching if you will:
1) The first says you cannot and should not advise. You must pull answers only from what the client says.
2) The second is more like consulting and I believe in this type because that’s what I pay for.
Every once in a while it’s nice when a coach asks, “What do you think you should do?” This allows the client to coach herself which is empowering. But, my personal feeling is, if I’m going to invest money for someone’s expertise, then I want direction. I want best practices, I want that person’s intuition and all of that as well. The truth is, most people are begging to be led.
Thomas Leonard, the founder of CoachU and Coachville did a survey and the number one thing clients asked for was a strong coach because they are looking for direction, reassurance and confidence. I found that fascinating. So no matter what you do, from holistic coaching to business, people want a strong and loving coach. The combination is important to build a productive coaching relationship.
Clients may seek direction and guidance, but, there is a caveat. In certain circumstances when you don’t have the knowledge to consult, you say, “Well Susan, I can’t advise you in this because it’s not within my realm of expertise. You’ve got to do your due diligence, check in with your intuition, and get the facts first. So I can’t tell you what to do. But I can say if it were me, I would probably do this.”
One of the first things I learned in coach training, during the model on advising, was to be very careful. Ask clients to make their own decisions. You can suggest, “if it feels right to you, then…” to be sure clients gain confidence in making their own decisions once the information is gathered.
There is also room for asking clients what they think they should do. I don’t believe clients want that 100% of the time, but it works very well from time to time and is highly empowering.
Your Client Attraction Assignment
Of the two coaching styles, which one do you use more often? Consultative or the hands off approach? Remember that if you tend to be highly directive, it can be a good switch to ask your client what she thinks to guide her to make future decisions on her own.