When some people think about coaching, they think it involves simply listening. But coaching is about much more than that — it is about building a relationship, more specifically a partnership.
My job as a coach is to attend, listen, and then facilitate a process that helps the client move from Point A to Point B. The key word is “facilitate.”- It is not my role as a coach to lead the conversation. It is not my role as a coach to tell the client what to do. It is my role to execute the essential skills and competencies that I’ve been trained in, and to be a partner. Not the lead.
This is a critical distinction. To the untrained eye it may seem like I’m just sitting there and “listening.” And that is what the client is paying me for. But clearly, the power and skill of facilitation counts for something, and that’s where coaching is a great challenge.
Here are three logistical reasons why coaching is more than listening:
- Number of clients I coach at one time. Because I have numerous clients at one time, I must prepare before coaching sessions and debrief after sessions. This includes taking notes during or after meetings, synthesizing and processing the ideas and discussion points, and then reviewing those together prior to the next discussion.
- I work with organizations that hire me to coach their first-time managers. This means I am constantly faced with balancing the needs of the individuals with the organization. This includes alignment between senior management and the “coachees” through a series of surveys, reports, and frameworks.
- Clients engage with me to see change and forward progress. This highlights the less tangible side of the entire process but is the part that actually requires the most time and energy. It includes the thought, consideration, and reflection that takes place through each engagement.
It is this third component to me, as a coach, has been the most surprising. Since every experience, client, and engagement is unique, as a coach I experience each moment for the first time. With each moment comes uncertainty, and how the client or I will respond at a given moment of time is both fascinating and depleting. Fascinating, because no two moments are alike, and the reward of coaching is really consistent. Depleting, because “being” and “giving” yourself as a coach to the client requires a significant amount of energy.
That is why the partnership of a coaching relationship is so vital. When I see my clients truly engaged and benefiting from the process we set together, I know the energy we are both expending is worth it. Together, we are building a more effective leadership style and a more successful future.