Coaching Demystified: what a client and a coach need to make coaching work

TV cook Delia Smith was watched in our household when I was growing up. I had no desire to cook at that stage, but I did like the straightforward, unfussy way her recipes were explained: clear, and direct. When I think of the benefits of coaching (both on me and on my clients) I think of recipes.

Coaches learn from their clients all the time. A coaching session last week highlighted three things for me. When I reflected on what they meant for, it reminded me of some of the expectations people have around coaching.

Like any good recipe, the points can be condensed into a few simple principles.

1. You will need … appetite, curiosity, and openness

Stock the cupboard full of appetite, curiosity, and openness.

For a thinking partnership to work, you’ll need to have an appetite for change.

You’ll need to be curious about your behaviours, outlooks, and thinking patterns. For change to happen, you’ll to be possess a sense of openness, or be willing to develop that sense.

The combination of these three will raise levels of engagement between you and your coach.

2. Habits take time to change

Be patient and kind with yourself during the coaching programme.

A lot of coaching conversations centre around reaching new goals. Often that demands confronting long-held beliefs, and either acknowledging their usefulness, or exchanging them for new ones.

In that way coaching can help change habitual thinking. And habits take time and effort to shift.

Sometimes you’ll return to an issue you’d thought you’d ‘already dealt with. Doing so doesn’t mean the coaching hasn’t worked. Rather it means that we need to come at the long-held belief from a series of different angles.

3. Change doesn’t need to be big to be effective; sometimes it’s small

We use the word ‘change’ in coaching, but it can sometimes have negative connotations, setting up an expectation that for change to be valuable it must be big.

Small incremental changes are as valuable as profound ones.


Jon Jacob is ICF Accredited Coach, specialising in management, executive, and leadership coaching at the BBC, and further education establishments. To discuss how coaching could benefit you, contact him on 07768 864655 or at Jon Jacob is @TGoodCoach on Twitter. 

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