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What does it mean to you?

  • Positioned as an expert.
  • Ask (in the best possible way, i.e. without leading) – makes the client the expert.
  • At it’s purest, asking keeps the client as expert; though, there are tricky ways one can “ask” that still places the coach as expert.

Can you tell and be a good coach.

I do ask and I do tell.

I do tell based on

  • a previous experiences
  • my own evolution – becoming a SME in an area – difficult conversations and finding that role play and being directive is highly effective at creating change (people need to crawl then walk before learning to run)
  • my exposure to SL II based on my work as a Ken Blanchard subcontract coach
  • my experience and belief that asking doesn’t always lead to insight or action and can be frustrating for the client (such as when they don’t know what they don’t know.

Trying to tease something out of a client that I know does not feel right.  Too much time – I feel that one 15-min conversation was worth more than 6 months of coaching around one particular issue with an early client when I was somewhat fresh out of coach training and worked so hard to maintain the integrity in the coaching process that I missed the client’s needs along the way.  He felt helped nonetheless and we’ve stayed in touch but looking back at it, I would have been far more helpful if I were more direct in this one area that he truly was lacking (I was working with another leader who was close to this client that provided additional insight validating my perception).

Use a SL II model to guide telling based on the client’s stage of development.  If the client doesn’t know/ does know that influences ask v tell. We could probably come up with a list of 5 – 10 ways of knowing a best practice in the moment – e.g., is the client losing or gaining energy?  Is the client gaining or losing confidence over time? Does the client appear to show a dependency (e.g., pushy around wanting an answer)? Have the coach and client colluded into a default mode of client seeking answers and coaching giving answers, rather than a default of partnering around discovery?

Became an expert on difficult conversations… being direct to give the client a language and model the situation has been extremely helpful. : being direct can: (1) provide a language; (2) provide a starting place (letting go of the rope over time as the client gains more competence and to help the client gain more confidence and independence; (3) be more efficient; (4) reduce frustration when the client really doesn’t have any idea; (5) leverage expertise of the coach (a missed opportunity of the coach never offers advice / suggestion)