As I start back training leaders in communication and coaching skills this week after the holiday break and as I start back working with my own coaching clients, this question comes up time and time again. What coaching model works best? Sigh
There are many great coaching models out there but if we get too fixated on following a model to a T, it can restrict and even destroy a powerful and effective coaching experience for our clients.
Coaching is different to mentoring and consulting. Some coaches wear all 3 hats and are acutely aware of which hat is relevant for each client at any given time and the impact that each hat can have.
Coaching as described by the International Coaches Federation is ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential’.
Mentoring, paid or non-paid, in my view is more of a ‘I’ve been there and done that and I can guide you from my own experiences to help you to achieve your goals too’ approach and consulting is more aligned to the advice approach and you have specific expertise that can help your clients to achieve agreed outcomes.
Many successful business owners and executives have worked with coaches for years to help them to navigate through the day-to-day challenges of their roles. Should everyone have a coach? perhaps or at least someone to chat to that is at arm’s length from your role, business or troubles.
So, what’s wrong with coaching? Well for a start it is a de-regulated industry, so anyone can call themselves a coach. So make sure you do your due diligence before agreeing to work with one and secondly many new coaches or even experienced coaches rely way too heavily on someone else’s coaching model. Don’t get me wrong, coaching models provide a great framework and many clients find great comfort in knowing their coach is following a proven process and there is a visual model for them to refer to. In fact, following these prescribed models is how we passed our counselling or coaching exams at university to prove we had at least some idea on how to guide a client through a process, however, many coaches will not deviate from their step-by-step model or structure and this is where effective and transformational coaching falls short.
Not every conversation can be planned, coaching sometimes looks like a wild rollercoaster rather than a neat road map. This reflects the real world of business and life. Coaches who can be flexible, who are confident to go where their clients need to go and can draw from frameworks and models when needed are far more valuable to their clients.
I found this great research paper that I encourage coaches and people considering working with a coach to read. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JWAM-07-2017-0019/full/html
I do like the paragraph that states ‘Sadly, many practitioners embarking on their careers believe that a coaching model is representative of what happens, or will happen, in the coaching conversation. They therefore do not move outside of this structure. It could be that here lies the danger. It can give the client an experience of being manoeuvred through a process, as a sheep would be driven though a sheep dip’
Models have value, especially when you are new to coaching, but be brave enough to go where your client needs to go and if you are working with a coach have the ‘model’ conversation.
Experienced coaches (and qualified in most cases) are worth their weight in gold.
Do your due diligence.
And to answer the question, which coaching model is the best? The answer is the one that suits the client best not the one that suits the coach the best.
Are you ready to start working with a coach?