I’m often asked what model I use to coach leaders and executives. The answer really is “I customize every single coaching process to suit my client.”
However, I do have a ‘model’ that I can share:
Given that I believe in coaching holistically, I feel strongly that I as a coach also need to bring my whole self with all my talents and gifts, as well as my professional and life experience to coaching.
I have had feedback from a myriad of people, including coaching clients, that I am a good listener. Thus, my model is one where I listen intently to every single word my client says, as well as the words they do not say. I also love music and so my coaching model flows like a song .
My model is a mix of Listening followed by several words all beginning with the letter A. My model is easily remembered with the acronym LA LA LA LA LA LA LA
In my experience Listening is the most important part of communication. Effective communication is key to good coaching. As coaches we need to establish a safe space for the client who needs to feel that they are being heard. Furthermore, the coach has to keep the conversation natural and flowing even when there are long pauses.
Whilst the L stands for Listen and Listening, throughout my model, there are times that it will also stand for Lightness and Light. As coaches, we support the client to ‘shed Light’ on their challenges or dilemmas and we bring Lightness to the session, if appropriate. Humor is not always appropriate, but can be a superb way of allowing the client to relax.
My model enables the client to resolve the topic they bring to the session through alternating periods of me Listening and then questioning. A broad overview of the coaching journey that I take clients on over a period of 4 – 6 months, is guided by seven words beginning with the letter A and interspersed with careful Listening. The seven A words : Ask , Acknowledge , Awareness, Allow, Advance , Action and Accountability are all pertinent to the coaching session.
The journey is seldom direct and thus, the list of A words grows and varies from session to session according to the client’s needs. Words such as: Approach, Align, Achieve, Ambition, Autonomy, Agree, Affirm, Apply, Attention, Applaud, Appropriate, Address, Assumptions, Assess, Accelerate, Aspire, Anxious, Appreciate, and Authentic, all have a role to play in the dialogue between coach and client. There is no prescriptive pattern and the process is not linear. As I, the coach Listen and reflect, using the client’s language and learning style, the various A words guide me.
If I am face to face with my client, I “Listen” to non-verbal cues as diligently as I Listen to the words that my client is speaking. Often, more is said in body-language than in audible words. However, coaching on the telephone is very powerful too. Listening for changes in pitch, pace and tone is as informative as viewing the body-language of the client. At times, the Listening on the phone sheds greater light on the client’s topic than the conversation held in person. I Listen meticulously for changes in my client’s emotion and then I will explore that change with my client.
My model is simple. I Aim to create a safe space for my client to focus on the topic they bring to the session and will Ask as many questions as necessary to ensure I have clarity on the topic. I will always Ask if we have Accomplished what we set out to Achieve in the session before I wrap up the session. Often I will check-in mid-way through the session to establish we are on-track.
It is in its simplicity that my model is valuable. In order to shift the client from where they are to where they want to be, I Apply this model.