This concept of curiosity and being willing to deconstruct a story is not just crucial for me – it is also fundamentally important for the client. However, there are a lot of leaders who do not know how to be in a coach/client engagement and often struggle to get value out of this vital relationship.
So, what does it mean to be a good client?
I have come across a lot of different people in my ten years of coaching. There are those in pain trying to recover from a professional setback. Others are anxious to promote and want to soak in as much professional development as possible to be prepared. Some clients feel stuck and unmotivated; they need someone to help them get clear on all their possibilities. Certain leaders have clear objectives and bring them into a coaching relationship. And then others do not know the first thing about being coached, but they want to take advantage of an opportunity and see where it takes them.
Here are two tips that apply to every client, especially those in the last category.
- Be ready to tell your story. Go beyond just your resume and what got you to the current conversation. A leadership coach wants to understand what is important to you and what you think, feel, or believe. It requires sharing from the heart. For those who are a bit guarded, ask yourself: How often do I get to speak uninterrupted? When is the last time I got to talk about myself to a person who held no judgment? A good client will take full advantage of this opportunity with each coaching session because it is within our own story that we hear ourselves say things that need to be named. Once spoken, new awareness can surprisingly emerge. With awareness comes options that your coach can help you explore.
- Be ready to reflect. Your coach will ask you hard questions that go beyond providing mere context or easy answers. Clients need to allow themselves to be challenged with not knowing how to respond and then to sit in the ambiguity. A good coach will offer up statements of what they notice you say, and when you hear it back, it may not be comfortable. It is within this discomfort that growth occurs. Allow yourself to be in these moments even when it is not easy – this is your work as a client. Coaches are not paid to have friendly conversations with you; they are paid to help you grow.
There are other ways to be a good client, but these two are fundamental. When I know someone is ready to share their story and is willing to stay open and reflect – growth is inevitable!
In my next post, I will talk about the importance of having clear objectives when working with a coach and how to prepare for the coaching sessions.
Do I know my own story? Who has heard it?
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash