The coaching process is a conversation that happens in a unique context. A big part of that milieu is the relationship formed between client and coach. At its heart it is relationship-based. The power of coaching to change lives comes from the belief, trust and support that flow through the transparent bond between coach and client. The relationship comes first, then the change. Take away the relationship and you eliminate much of coaching’s potential for change.
Second, the coaching process is client-centered. Here’s what that means. If the relationship were coach-centered, the coach would define what needed to be talked about, solve the problems, and impart insight and advice to the client. The relationship would be centered on what the coach has to give. Instead, the client is the center of attention in the coaching relationship. The client generates all the agenda, goals, solutions and action steps. In the coaching methodology, the client does the heavy lifting, not the coach.
Third, coaching relationships are goal-driven. This is a relationship that is going somewhere. We aren’t here merely to chat—we formed this relationship for the express purpose of accomplishing a growth goal and we’ve covenanted together to diligently work toward it. Coaching relationships are high-commitment, professional, growth-oriented relationships with clear, written goals and expectations.
These three elements—relationship-based, client-centered and goal-driven—form the context within which the coaching conversation takes place.
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, Leadership Coaching.