In advanced coach training, one of the most enjoyable sections is the case study approach that unpacks how particular coaches handle a challenging coaching situation. The details are different every time, but what’s really fascinating is that every coach approaches these case studies differently. Some are strategic and focus on the big picture. Some are tactical and drive their questions toward specific next steps. Others focus on asking the right question or wonder aloud about the relational impact of working together over time. Every coach has their own approach, and the approaches are as different as the coaches themselves.
But there is one key question that every coach MUST ask as they prepare for a coaching session: “What can I do in this session to serve this client in the way they need most?” A coaching relationship exists so that the coach can help the client systematically address their key issues, but with an eye toward the reality that the client knows the key issues better than the coach. No matter what you think you know, the client absolutely knows what’s what better than you do. That’s where the question comes it.
Answering this question scares a lot of coaches. The answer might mean adapting your coaching style to fit the client. Or it might mean asking the client how the coaching relationship is going. Or even kicking your commitment to listening up to a new level. Bottom line, when you ask yourself about serving your client the way they need to be served, you are committing to make it about them and not about you. And you have a chance to roll your sleeves up and commit to serving the client. Will you?
Coaching at highest level is always about the client—their situation, the underlying challenges of their situation, their personality, their growth, and most of all, the client’s results. Coaching is about drawing the best out the client at every turn, and that’s not about you, the coach.
What other questions do you ask yourself in preparation for your coaching sessions? What must-ask-yourself question would you suggest that other coaches use? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.