Expert Series Part 4: Keeping your client engaged while coaching
Solving the 4 Biggest Challenges of Coaching Leaders:
Keeping Them Engaged
Kim Ades, MBA
Coaches by and large struggle with the following four issues related to coaching leaders:
- Establishing Credibility
- Facilitating Transparency and Openness
- Getting Results – Fast!
- Keeping Them Engaged
In this segment we will focus on the area of facilitating transparency and openness with the leaders whom we are coaching. In order for transparency to happen, it is crucial that a strong foundation of trust is built. While trust is vital for all coaching relationships, it seems to play a more prominent role when coaching leaders, for if this trust is broken, even for a split second, the entire coaching relationship is at risk, jeopardizing the value of any progress that has been made, as well as the future of the coaching relationship.
So – what are some effective strategies that you can use for building trust and encouraging your leaders and high potential leader clients to be open?
- Keep your promises – It is vital that you follow through on any commitments you make to the leader you are coaching. If you promise to send a contract – do not delay – make sure it is sent quickly. If you promise to make an introduction, do it the same day it is promised. This is an easy and simple way to build trust with leaders.
- Be available – Leaders appreciate your ability to respond to their needs when they come up. Make sure to allow for this degree of flexibility in your schedule. Nothing goes further than helping out when you are needed – this certainly increases the sense of dependability you are building with your leader clients. If an emergency comes up and they reach out, your responsiveness is key to building trust and encouraging openness.
- Be in contact frequently – It is recommended that you find a way to stay in contact with your clients in between coaching calls – this helps to build the relationship in many ways. The more touch points you have with your clients, the easier it is to cement the trust required for them to feel comfortable sharing the more difficult aspects of their personal and professional lives.
- Be open yourself – Make sure to share bits and pieces of your own life while you are coaching. This allows leaders to get to know you and understand that you too are human and have overcome some interesting obstacles along the way. This helps to build the intimacy that is required to get to some of the dark places that is often instrumental to powerful coaching.
- Introduce a Journaling Dialogue – Asking your clients to journal in between sessions is a very effective way of staying in contact, while simultaneously moving the coaching process forward. Journaling invites the client to provide a more personal account of what is going on in their lives. This format of communication naturally invites transparency and openness and provides incredibly rich data for you to work with on coaching calls. Journals provide remarkable insight into the beliefs, values, experiences, and self-perceptions of clients. This window into their soul acts as a catalyst for deep, meaningful conversations that have the potential to truly transform the client.
It always helps to think about the people in your life who you feel a strong sense of trust and openness towards. What are their characteristics? What compels you to share your ‘stuff’ with them? What type of relationship do you have in place? How often do you communicate and in what ways? These questions are good to use as an aid for constructing your coaching program to really establish the type of relationship that breeds trust and encourages transparency.