Clients Don’t Need Advice

Clients Dont Need AdviceAs coaches, we are hired to support our client to achieve their desired outcomes.

Coaching is a partnership where the client brings knowledge about themselves, their circumstances, their strengths, hopes, fears, beliefs, mindset, and their life in general. The client has specialized information about themselves that the coach needs to listen for and draw out in order to support them find their way to move toward their desired outcomes.

The coach brings a range of coaching skills that starts with coaching presence, which is understanding and working within a coaching model and process, and being present to what they are hearing, sensing, intuiting and feeling as they listen to the client. They ask questions, make observations, reflect back what they are hearing, and offer what their gut or intuition is telling them.

Coaches bring other knowledge and expertise too, which can be the reason why a client hires you. The client thinks they want your expertise and what you know, yet in a coaching model, the coach has a different way of sharing that expertise than if they were being hired as a consultant.

How a consultant gives advice

Let’s say the client wants marketing advice to grow their business. A consultant will share their model and what the client needs to do. They will assume that their model or advice is the best way to engage in marketing. The consultant may have been very successful at implementing their advice for their own marketing and that’s what they are now selling and training you in. Social media marketing systems for coaches is a great example of this, as are webinar systems for building business.

I have hired such marketing consultants myself and spent many thousands of dollars to learn their system. I am yet to implement any of that advice to the extent that it would pay for the outlay I made, let alone achieve the heights of success they promised. Can you relate to this? So what’s missing?

What a consultant may not take into consideration

The consultant doesn’t live in my head, in my world or have my background. There is often the implication that if I just follow their system ‘correctly’ then I’ll be as successful as they are. There is an implied message that if I’m not successful using their system or advice, I must not have been committed enough, or wanted it enough, or even not followed their system properly. Somehow it’s my fault for not making their system work.

How a coach gives advice

A coach will not automatically give advice but will first find their gaps by asking questions to find out what the client wants to be able to do, along with what they already know about marketing, what they’ve already tried, what worked, what didn’t. They will understand the client’s way of doing things and how to leverage their self-knowledge to create success. They’ll help the client to figure out what barriers or underlying issues need to be addressed and coach them to remove those barriers.

What’s important to the client?

Given we can Google anything and find advice on any and everything, a coach recognizes that advice is not what the client really wants. What they do want is to take action that feels congruent with their beliefs and way of doing things that energizes them and will help them to get to their desired outcome. They want to feel and be successful, doing it their way.

When I’m conducting an ICF MCC, PCC or ACC coaching session evaluation for a credential applicant, I often hear the coach giving unsolicited advice. The coach will say they are going to send an article, or just start talking about a model, or the coach just starts telling the client what to do without asking whether the client wants that.

As the coach gives that advice, I can often hear the client’s energy waning, indicating they now have been given more things they should do according to someone else’s beliefs, rather than helping them to discover their own best way. Giving unsolicited advice assumes the client doesn’t know what they are doing, and will assure you of failing your coaching credential exam.

Can coaching and consulting co-exist?

Consulting has its place if you need a system to be implemented and there isn’t any leeway for how it’s done. Financial systems might be one example, where you offer training about the right way to implement the system.

Coaching is best used to help the client become more fully invested and engaged in developing their ability to create their desired outcomes.

You can successfully mix consulting and coaching if you bring in a new system that has leeway for how each person takes ownership. An example might be a leadership program delivered as training that can have coaching as follow up so each participant can apply the program to their unique needs.

So the next time your client asks you for advice, empower them by putting them in the driving seat towards their destination rather than telling them where to go.


Are you preparing to apply for your MCC, PCC or ACC credential?

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We offer an awesome mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants. One of those offerings is an extensive library of MCC, PCC and ACC coaching sessions for our participants to listen to, evaluate, debrief, and learn from, along with The Target Approach to demystifying the ICF core competencies. These are incredibly valuable learning tools, and will accelerate your understanding of competency distinctions.

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