People ask me, “What does a personal coach do?” There is certainly curiosity in the spoken question, but often I am actually answering an unspoken question: “Could I benefit from personal coaching?” The deceptively basic answer to the first question is that a personal coach assists the client in achieving greater potential. Using proven, science-backed tools and specifically targeted coaching techniques, the coach and client progress through activities and discussions designed to produce actionable self-awareness and personal accountability. To answer the unspoken question, again the answer may appear deceptively simple. You’ll benefit from personal coaching when you come to a decision that there is more available, more in store, more meant for you.
Reaching Our Potential – You know When There is More
More? Yes. But illustrating more is tricky. Every individual is unique. Here I’ll swing wide with examples to paint a picture. More might be:
- Feeling more fulfilled professionally or personally
- Becoming a more effective leader
- Making a critical decision
- A sense of peace with a dictated situation
- Greater financial success
- Greater personal flexibility
- Less stress
- A more effective team
- Higher level of emotional intelligence
- Seeking to expand thinking and/or stop adverse thinking patterns.
Over the years, my client’s backgrounds and situations have varied, but the one thing they have had in common is a growth mindset, and this is critical to success with coaching. They were open to change; in fact, they were seeking it. They were after their more.
Understanding How We Arrive at More
Understanding how we have arrived at the more threshold is informative in-and-of-itself and often serves as a starting point for the coach/client engagement. Gaining this understanding is part of the greater self-awareness effective coaching delivers. Again, every individual is unique, but perhaps:
- Changes in life have altered the landscape and the client is seeking to better align their life with their core values.
- A person comes to the realization that, though they are professionally accomplished, they feel unfulfilled in their personal life, or that their professional success may have come at the cost of their personal relationships.
- Individuals feeling stuck in a job they don’t like.
- Transitioning out of child-rearing responsibilities, looking to find endeavors that fulfilling.
- Competing priorities or high stakes have clouded decision-making, leading to inaction.
- An executive with a solid track record realizes s/he has stalled out or has been given feedback that suggests her/his actions and reactions are keeping her/him from advancing.
Groups and partnerships come to the door of “there is more”, too. Consider:
- A team of high-individual performers not translating into a cohesive group with greater collective output.
- A newly formed group struggling with trust.
- A group lacking real knowledge of the individual players, including unique strengths and weaknesses, and without a clear understanding of how the diverse roles fit together.
- Individuals running into repeat intra-personal obstacles to success driven by default behaviors or challenging attitudes or personality traits.
What You Can Expect from a Personal Coach
Pssst: The Coach Doesn’t Have the Answer
Answering what a coach doesn’t do informs the answer of what they do. A coach does not give you the answers. A coach does not tell you what to do. Much more valuable, a coach enables you to answer your own questions, because what works for you is unique to you. What coaching does do is expand an individual’s capacity to grow and learn through:
It is hard to see a new perspective when we are working with me, myself and I. You don’t know what you don’t know. A personal coach brings informed, professional perspective rooted in their training. They serve as an outside, neutral observer of the situation. Many coaches bring valuable personal experience to the engagement as well, i.e. a quality business-focused coach will use their business experience to further edify their technique.
Closely related to new perspectives, effective coaching produces clarity. Because they are trained to probe deeply and link together key fundamental beliefs and individual drivers, a coach can help the client uncover their true motivations and desires. Importantly, the coach will assist the client in distinguishing the real roadblocks from the perceived, parsing through competing objectives, always keeping the focus on the client’s established core values. A coach helps the client see what is holding them back from their more.
Foundational to building emotional intelligence, gaining greater self-awareness enables the client to understand their driving (and possibly conflicting) motivations, default reactions and even camouflaged or suppressed values. With this information, decisions become clearer. Behaviors can be adapted to generate greater returns. Possibly detrimental triggers can be circumvented. And then, reflecting on and analyzing the actions taken through the greater self-awareness further informs the growth; the cycle perpetuates greater improvement, clearing the path to more.
To produce actionable self-awareness in my practice, I utilize several professional coaching tools, including the Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I) assessment and the EQ-I 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment. We typically conduct a personal values inventory exercise. And, I often pull in effective communication building tools to supplement what is discovered regarding the client’s dominate communication style. Throughout this process, we examine core beliefs so that we can determine what choices or changes will be best. We are gaining a deeper understanding of how the client typically shows up, and how changes in how they show up might work in their favor. We’re carving the path more.
Goal Setting & Accountability
Setting clearly defined personal goals is the first step in reaching those personal goals. A coach facilitates the personal goal setting and might use tools like “ideal image” visioning or personal mission authoring. Bringing even greater value, the coach/client relationship establishes a proven, science-backed system for garnering results – personal accountability. The coach returns the client to their defined goals through established and committed follow-up. The team works together to analyze progress, generating resolutions when progress is thwarted.
Dedicated Time to Focus on Growth
Finally, at its most basic level, a professional coaching engagement ensures time is carved out for the client to focus on their growth. On any given day, a myriad of situations and obligations can turn our attention away from even the best-laid plans, but a coaching consultation can keep personal development a priority.
Many factors will influence the duration of the coaching engagement. I work with clients on both weekly and monthly cycles. Some I work with for weeks, some years. I have clients that find “as-needed” maintenance sessions give them the accountability they need. I have clients that seek coaching for independent needs, and I have clients who seek cross-functional coaching for personal and team improvement.
Real-Life Examples of More
A proficient personal coach can be an effective conduit to more in many diverse scenarios. I’ve coached individuals:
- looking for a new job
- deciding on a possible job promotion or the acceptance of a new job offer
- working through decisions that lack clarity
- seeking more effective ways to manage a team or role
- desiring less stress in life and a higher level of happiness
- searching for their right work/life balance
- thirsty for a feeling of fulfillment
- looking for a “better” way personally and professionally
- seeking a higher level of emotional intelligence
- relationship challenges
And, I’ve coached teams:
- seeking to build better and more effective working relationships
- newly established, needing foundational relationship building
- established, in need of stress management
- through their goal setting
- through their establishment of written company principles
Ready for Your More?
The above begins to answer the question of why one might benefit from a personal coach. The real answers, however, are revealed through the process. Coaching is instrumental as it transforms our thinking. Clarity and new perspectives bring diversity to the equation, expanding our thinking. Actionable self-awareness generates novel and valuable tools that focus and enhance goal setting. The built-in accountability fuels the entire process. A personal coaching engagement forges the path for, and facilitates the travel on, an individual’s journey to their more.
Through her work at Brain Basics, Kathy Walter has the privilege of guiding individuals and teams to their full potential – to their “more.” Combining targeted, science-backed tools with proven coaching techniques, she works with clients to expand thinking, enhance output and create opportunity. Contact Brain Basics to learn more.