Working with a coach is different to working with a manager or a consultant. The coach manages the process and guides you along the way since they have that experience. Unless you have worked with professional coaches previously you man not know what to expect. The best coaches will make sure you understand what to expect prior to a series of coaching sessions.

Understanding Accountability

Some people can get confused about accountability when they start working with a coach for the first time. In some ways the power in the coaching relationship might appear to sit with the coach so a new coachee might want to keep their coach happy, as they might with their boss.

This can show itself with the coachee giving answers that they think the coach would like to hear. This isn’t the purpose of coaching at all and a professional coach will recognize this if it starts to show. A client is only ever accountable to themselves and they hold all the power in all coaching conversations.

There are times during coaching sessions when the conversation seems to lose focus and drift from one topic to another. Professional coaches know these aren’t always the times to say “now let’s get back to the coaching objectives”. These can be the times when the client is exploring possibilities – even if they don’t realize it themselves.

Such times can’t be prompted, they just happen. When they do they need to be allowed to develop. They could turn out to be nothing at all but they could equally turn up a real eureka moment for the client.

Don’t be surprised if the direction you started off your coaching sessions in changes along the way. Coaching conversations, even those that have very clear and measurable goals to start with often explore far more than the specifics in question. In doing so the opportunity to consider other aspects of our work and home life comes into play.

Each of us is a complex mix of emotions, motivations, desires and experiences so it’s little wonder they all come into play during coaching conversations – let them.

You Create Goals With Your Coach

Setting action plans or goals to be aimed at is something that you can work at with your coach. Working together you can determine what goals are right for you but your coach will never set those goals for you, that’s your responsibility alone.

It’s Not Just About The Coaching Sessions

Coaching isn’t just about the individual sessions you have with your coach. Even before the first session there will be work to be done, often prompted by the coach, as a way to prepare yourself.

Between sessions too there will be activities to undertake, things to reflect on and observe. These might be suggested by your coach but equally they may be self started after considering the outcomes from a particular session. The value of coaching is in the sessions themselves but even more so in the intervening periods when you can work on what was discussed.

Responsible coaches will “hold their client’s hand” through the coaching programme. Some clients may need more hand-holding than others but that’s the responsibility of the coach. Successful outcomes only come about from coaching programmes when the coaching client is at ease and feels comfortable working with their coach.

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© Paul Slater and Reflect & Lead, 2015.