A few years ago–before I was married–I heard a sermon series about ways to build love that lasts. I wasn’t even thinking about getting married at the time–I thought I was called to be single–but one concept really changed the way I think about relationships, not just marriages.
The pastor of my church had built a whole series around Dr. Willard Harley’s concept of The Love Bank. The idea is that every one of us has an account in our Love Bank for every other person with whom we have a relationship. We make deposits, driving the balance up. When we goof up, we make withdrawals, driving the balance down. Dr. Harley builds an entire marriage philosophy around the idea that our spouse should always have a big, positive balance. If we’re diligent about maintaining the positive balance, our marriage gets stronger because it’s built on that large, positive cushion. We always operate from abundance, in this case, an abundance of love.
What a simple, easy idea about how to treat the people who are most important to us!
Coaching works on a similar idea, but it’s not love (though it’s probably grounded in a love for people). Coaches strive to maintain a positive Help Balance in their Coaching Bank.
If coaching is a relationship focused on God’s purpose that facilitates change and accomplishes the client’s purpose(s)–which it is!–then one of the key measures of effectiveness is how helpful a coaching relationship is in bringing the client’s goals to life. Maintaining a positive Help Balance is a good running measurement.
Here’s how it works: A client designs an action that is intended to move them toward their purpose. The coach has a role in identifying and structuring that action. If you’ve made a positive contribution in that design, you make a deposit! If you’re not helpful or you work against it, well, that’s a withdrawal. The more positive–the more helpful–you are, the bigger your balance gets.
This is a key orientation for coaches. Be helpful to your clients!
You’re helpful when you come alongside a client to draw out an action–any action–that moves the client closer to their goal. Lots of coaches are almost judgmental about the actions their clients choose. That’s NOT helpful!
A good rule of thumb is to ask the client to connect how the action will move them closer to the goal. If they can’t, ask another question to re-evaluate the action under consideration. (The action should also align with the bigger picture plan–remember, actions are individual steps toward a goal–or tactics–and plans are initiatives made up of multiple actions that cover a lot of ground over the course of a coaching relationship.)
Another helpful coaching behavior is to commit to going deep by default. Listen a little longer than is comfortable. Ask “What” questions that invite deeper reflection. When your coaching gets a client to work on the cause of situation and not the details, you are automatically making a Help Deposit.
The bigger your Help Balance is, the more likely you are to get extended contracts, referrals, and to build a sterling reputation.
What are your best strategies for building a big Help Balance with your clients? Please put them in the comments below!