I do a lot of 1-on-1 executive and entrepreneurial coaching. Which means I have a lot of pre-engagement conversations with people who would like to create bigger results and think coaching could help.
But some aren’t coachable — yet they don’t know it.
Why do I say this?
The people with whom I enter a successful coaching relationship have several things in common that is missing in those with whom I don’t begin a relationship.
The ones who are good coaching clients are:
- Open to new ideas. They don’t immediately say, “That won’t work for me.” Not that I always have a perfect solution for them. But coachable people are more apt to say, “Help me through where I’m stuck thinking this won’t work.” Or “I’m having a hard time seeing how that would work given my restrictions. Tell me more.” Or “I understand your idea, but I’d like to brainstorm some modifications to it.”
- Focused in the conversation. They may go on brief tangents, but they know they’re going there to make a point soon. They may even say, “This will sound tangental, but I’ll bring it back.” Those who aren’t good coaching clients go off on long digressions and get irritated when I try to bring it back to the topic.
- Respectful of our time together. They know every minute we have is precious and they come prepared with an agenda based on the priorities they want to cover. They don’t dilly dally.
- Not argumentative. When they disagree they do so respectfully, as I work to do.
- Focused on implementation. They use me as a sounding board to help them move through what’s stopping them and are committed to the execution plan we co-create. They know excuses keep them stuck so make regular progress on the tasks set out to achieve what they want.
- Honest with themselves and with me. If they know they are procrastinating, they say so, not try to hide it.
- Savvy in understanding that the coach isn’t going to do their work for them.
- Truly want help, not to make it seem that they don’t really need help.
- Willing to hear direct, respectful, feedback, not be told that something they’ve produced is good when it isn’t.
- Don’t go on and on about minutia that isn’t relevant to the issue at hand. They are paying me for my perspective, insights, questions and advice and they know to get value they have to allow me to share what I think would be useful to them.
- Able to know when they are being too needy. Coaches usually have agreements that outline how often there will be communication. While there can be emergencies or extenuating circumstances, it’s important that both parties acknowledge when there’s more contact — or less — than what’s been contracted.