I do quite a lot of executive coaching and have done this for a number of years. I enjoy working with chief executives, senior executives and managers in private and public sector organisations. I particularly enjoy it when you have a meaningful impact and deliver outcomes for individuals and their organisations professionally and personally.
In the past, I took on everyone as a client. I believed that I could help everyone, and that everyone has the right to receive coaching from people that care enough to positively impact their leadership in a constructive manner. It was noble but draining and not right for both parties. I found that I was not prepared to fully engage with clients that were not fully committed to the coaching process or to the challenges that arise when becoming more self-aware. Harsh? Perhaps. Do I believe it was the right thing to do for both parties? I do and am even more convinced that down the track being selective is critical to having a powerful impact as a consultant and a coach if you are serious about delivering outcomes that are sustainable.
From these experiences, I now have some criteria I utilise when aligning with a potential client that is seeking coaching. I have put this down below and would welcome any thoughts that others may have around what they use to select coaching partnerships that work. Key criteria for me is as follows:
- are they committed? Do they understand their ‘whys’ and the benefits of the coaching they will be working through?;
- are they open to learning and improvement? Or do they have a fixed mindset? This is critical for me in ensuring they are open to the challenging but impactful feedback and insights they are about to work through;
- are they doing it for the right reasons? Are they doing it because the organisation or chief executive have set up a panel or is this something that they realise they need and want?;
- can you add value to them? What experiences, insights and ideas do you bring that will assist the senior coachee to respond and act on your feedback and insights?; and
- are they ready now to act? Not down the track when everything is aligned, but now. They need to be fully focussed on committing and delivering on actions that are not just what they have always done before, but new constructive actions that will improve their leadership and their personal and professional lives.
Coaching can be a game changer when the student is ready and the right coach arrives. However, it should be a privilege rather than a right. Being coachable for me is meeting the criteria above. Don’t assume that the coach has to coach. Really think about this from both perspectives and what will ensure successful outcomes for both parties.