Follow your client down their yellow brick road…

client yellow brick road

Last month, I watched an updated movie version of the American classic book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (called The Wiz Live! on NBC). This book was immortalized in a movie classic in 1939 with Judy Garland cast as Dorothy. Every time I watch this movie I find more parallels to coaching.

One of the themes in the movie is to “follow the yellow brick road” to the Emerald City, to meet with the Wizard of Oz who it is alleged can help Dorothy find her way back home to Kansas (after being swept away in a tornado). Along the way to the Emerald City, Dorothy encounters a Scarecrow, a Tinman and a Lion.

Follow the yellow brick road is a great way to think of the client’s agenda in a coaching session (and a great use of metaphor which is a skill within Direct Communication). You start out by listening to your client to ascertain what their desired destination is in this coaching session (Creating the Coaching Agreement). Then you partner with your client to walk down their yellow brick road with them, where along the way you’ll hear about people, beliefs, values, emotions, etc.

You and your client may become deeply engaged in a conversation as you walk along the road, just as Dorothy first encountered the Scarecrow and had a conversation with him. Then they had to find the yellow brick road again, so they could now continue together to their destination, the Emerald City.

The conversation between Dorothy and the Scarecrow certainly had some value, yet the destination was still the Emerald City. This is a critical concept in Creating the Coaching Agreement, as well as Coaching Presence: the concept of partnering with your client to allow the client to choose where to go next in the conversation.

How does the conversation you’ve just had support the client to walk down their yellow brick road and closer to their destination? It’s so easy to ask a question like, “So how is what we’ve just spoken about related to your desired outcome (destination) for our coaching today?”

The Target Approach in Action

This will likely allow your client to recount where they are so far in the coaching session, and they may even reveal what they have uncovered so far (Creating Awareness), which may then naturally allow the client to know what to do next (Designing Actions). Those of you who know The Target Approach will recognize the flow of the ICF core competencies here. We explore this flow deeply in The Mentor Coaching Group, where we have a non-coach client be coached for 5 of our group sessions by our mentoring clients (one at a time).

Back to the story…..

Dorothy continued with the Scarecrow, following the yellow brick road, when they encountered a Tinman. Again, an earnest conversation ensued, with it being determined the Tinman would also join them to go to the Emerald City. Again, they had to find the yellow brick road, so they could follow it. Then an encounter with the Lion, another conversation, and a commitment to all go together to the Emerald City.

Think of a coaching session with your client as a conversation that unfolds along the way. You stop and have a conversation based on what has been uncovered. You may ask how this conversation relates to their desired destination. Then you check if it’s time to continue walking down the road further and see what else you encounter. Or maybe your client will want to veer off on another branch of their yellow brick road.

In The Wizard of Oz, the Emerald City is not the final destination!

For Dorothy, it’s getting home to Kansas (which may be a metaphor for getting ‘home’ to herself….). Likewise in a coaching session, the client might tell you what their initial destination is for this coaching session, yet as you walk together down their yellow brick road, they gain more clarity about what is an even better destination for them. This is often in the internal realm of the Who/Being of your client, where they might get to a deeper truth of what needs to be addressed in order for them to feel ‘at home’ with themselves, their choices, and their decisions.

One of the amazing things about a coaching session is what arises out of joint conversation in a trusted relationship between coach and client. The yellow brick road is your guide, and you have to walk with your client. Yet along the way, your client might find there is another yellow brick road that will get them to their destination more truly.

Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential?

Do you want to “Sharpen the Saw” as a Coaching Professional?

Our next Group/Individual Mentoring Program commences February 15, 2016 and carries 23.5 ICF Core Competency CCEUs!

Don’t wait until later in the year to start your mentoring requirements or to obtain CCEU’s for credential renewal!

You can learn more here

Carly Anderson and Karen Boskemper offer an awesome mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants. Both have been trained by the ICF to assess using the new PCC Markers.

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.

Here’s where you’ll find more about The Mentor Coaching Group