The best coaches bring their unique ‘zingy’ energy, heart-centred passion and vibrant personality to their work.
Beautiful Coaching allows the client time and space to step into their power and grow. But this won’t happen if the coach is Mrs Boring with a blank face and confuses the client by jumping around with different coaching strategies.
So, what’s the best way to become a Beautiful Coach?
Quite simply, you need to be yourself AND learn sound coaching techniques to ensure your sessions are professional, productive and get great results that people talk about all the time.
Where other modalities require a more distant, questioning approach, coaching allows you the opportunity to share your experiences in ways that help your client to pause and reflect and, ultimately, to feel empowered, supported, inspired and resilient. This means there’s a great opportunity for picking from different coaching models within each session and tailoring everything to suit your individual client.
BUT…. you’ll only make this pick n’ mix style successful IF you’ve practiced each model thoroughly before.
So, the best way to start is to practice just one model with each client until you’ve mastered it. Think of it like cooking – you make the best lasagne when you buy quality ingredients and practice making it over and over again, sharing it with friends who tell you how great it tastes, or how it needs a little more salt or herbs. You’ll never become a lasagne-making-genius if you only try it once a year and eat it by yourself!
Let’s get cooking!
The GROW model, created in the 1980s by business coaches Alexander, Fine and Sir Whitmore can be likened to planning a journey. It starts with deciding where you’re going (the goal), establishing where you’re travelling from (your current reality) and then looking at all the various routes to your destination (the options). The final step adds a crucial part to the journey: your commitment and preparation for the obstacles ahead. The model assumes the coach is not an expert in the client’s situation (e.g. like a skiing coach coaching a tennis player) and therefore requires the coach to act as a facilitator, helping the client select the best options but without offering advice or direction. GROW is, therefore, a non-directive coaching model.
To structure a Beautiful Coaching session using GROW, follow these steps:
- Establish the goal (e.g. a behaviour change)
- Make sure the goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound)
- Examine the current reality (very important to consider the starting point before trying toproblem solve). Use questions such as ‘What is happening now? (What, who, when, how often?)What is the effect/result of this? Have you already taken steps towards your goal?
- Explore the options. Instead of offering advice, use further questions: What else could you do?What are the advantages/disadvantages of each option? What do you need to stop doing toachieve this goal?
- Establish the will. Use questions to establish your client’s commitment and motivation, such as:What will you do now, and when? What else will you do? What could stop you moving forward?How can you keep yourself motivated?
- Finally decide on how/when to review progress. This provides accountability and allow for theplan to be adapted as necessary.Beautiful Coaching Top TipIf you’re new to coaching and haven’t yet begun working with paying clients, do begin by practising all the coaching models on yourself. Work on getting yourself unstuck and figuring out
the most helpful questions. Write these down and create a list of stock questions to use as prompts for future coaching sessions.
Remember, that in addition to being a good questioner, you must also develop excellent listening skills. This includes becoming skilled at asking open (versus closed) questions and using active listening skills to enable your client to do most of the talking.
And the golden nugget: Silence provides valuable thinking time. You don’t have to try to fill the silence with a new question.
FDPW is a home-grown methodology that I’ve perfected over the years and I KNOW it works! You can combine this with GROW for spectacular results.
FDPW stands for: Flow, Dive, Poke, Wild Intrigued? Let’s explore this in more detail…
FLOW: A selection of questions to use when you first meet a client or at the beginning of a session to build rapport and create the conversation flow.
DIVE: This is the part where you take your questioning a little deeper; to dive into your client’s mindset and create more challenge and growth.
POKE: I call these my Poke the Bear questions. If you poke a bear you’re going to get a strong reaction! These are designed to challenge and provoke but can be a short cut to a goal.
WILD: My wild cards are exactly that! Throw a wild card into the ring to change the energy, shake things up and shift thought patterns.
There are a couple of different versions of STAR (Situation. Thoughts. Action. Results.) but I prefer this one developed by David Bonham-Carter which is rooted in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). It’s most suited to problem solving and stress management.
STAR casts a spotlight on the things that are irrational and is a fast and highly effective behaviour to help someone get rid of damaging or limiting thoughts and behaviours.
Here’s an example:
Situation: What is the specific situation that is creating difficulty?
Thoughts (or task): What thoughts go through your mind and what do you think you should do? Action: How do you typically act in the situation in response to it, and in response to your thoughts and feelings?
Results: What are the usual results of your actions in practical terms and in terms of how you feel afterwards?
STAR is a way to have the client explore their own behaviour and to see that this may be based on groundless fears or worries and to start developing a coping strategy or behaviour modification.
Just as it sounds, coaches need to frame things. Think of a picture: the frame focuses the attention on the picture within, rather than the frame itself. In coaching terms, we can imagine a frame where the conversation sits within. For example, an agreement frame where we talk about what we are agreeing – this helps to focus the attention and encourage inclusion. It gets rid of what is and isn’t relevant for that conversation.
PROGRESS AND SCALING
Coaching scaling techniques are a really useful way to help a coachee assess their progress or their state of satisfaction in relation to their desired outcomes, or to clarify their commitment to a way forward.
For example: (in the simplest form)
On a scale of 1-10 …
… to what extent have you made progress towards this goal? … how content are you in this area?
… how committed are you to taking this action?
This allows the coachee to assess their position and gives a foundation on which to move forward.
Scaling techniques in coaching practice forms part of a solution focused approach. It allows you to assess progress and allows your client to be aware of how far they’ve come and creates opportunity to set further goals or targets.
One powerful benefit of scaling is to help your coachee to assess their position in relation to their ideal outcome (their 10/10). When you ask a scaling question, remember to give a brief description of their 10/10 and their 1/10, ensuring that what you describe for the latter is well blow their current position.
Here’s an example:
On a scale of 1-10, where 10/10 is your perfect scenario, where you’re totally centred, you know what you have to do and you achieve everything you want to achieve in a day, and more, and as a result you feel great…. and 1/10 is where you feel so un-centred that you achieve absolutely nothing in a day, you don’t know what you want to achieve and you feel ‘all over the place’… where are you on this scale?
In this example your coachee will most likely to be able to identify some midpoint between the two extremes on which you can then build with a further question such as: ’So, what do you know you are doing well which is giving you the score of 4?’ which then leads to further positive exploration.
Positivity is the key here, lovely!
Remember, always use the number one as the lowest end of the scale rather than zero, as zero cannot built upon should your coachee choose the lowest extreme.
Once you’ve established your coachee’s current position, ask questions to help them move forward and in the right direction towards their goals.
E.g. ‘So, if you are now at a 6, what things can you do right now to move to a 7?’ Honestly, this works beautifully!
Simply asking your clients ‘Are you committed?’ is a closed question and will more likely prompt a ‘yes’ , while asking ‘how committed are you’ might elicit a vague ‘very committed’ response which could mean many things. Instead, using a scaling question enables your client to put some measure on it which you can then explore further and prompt you to ask ‘so what would bring your commitment to a 10/10?’
From experience, clients with a commitment of less than 8/10 usually require further exploration to establish underlying issues affecting their motivation and to establish what action they will be more committed to.
Now we’re done talking nerdy, it’s time to talk dirty…
TALK DIRTY TO ME: This is a coaching reminder to ensure that we reflect back cleanly to the
client what they have said, rather than our own interpretation of what they said. And finally…
In most professions these days, continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential part of the ongoing learning and growth cycle to ensure you’re delivering the best possible standard of work to your clients or in the workplace. It’s imperative that throughout your coaching journey you chuck on your wellies and jump in the mud in order to highlight your own coaching issues, specific problems with clients and to gain valuable feedback and insights. This is personal development at its best – so don’t shy away from this essential part of the journey!
Coaching supervision is where you really get to flex your coaching muscles and can be utterly fun, transformative and illuminating.
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With love and mischief, Kate xx