Great Coaching is Not Time Bound


As someone who trains and mentor coaches, I’ll often hear coaches say that if they had more time in a coaching session, they would have been able to ask this or say that.

Some coaches say that 30 minutes isn’t long enough. Others will say that 60 minutes isn’t long enough, and 90 minutes is perfect.

Time spent with a client does not equal value received

There might be a preference for how long a coaching session goes but good coaching isn’t time bound. Assuming there is willingness from the client to be coached, good coaching is determined by the;

  • Presence of the coach (ICF core competency of Coaching Presence)
  • Depth of listening (Active Listening)
  • Quality of questions, messages and observations (Powerful Questioning, Direct Communication and Creating Awareness)

Coaching Competencies flow organically

These coaching skills all meld together because the more present the coach is to the client, the more the coach will listen to the words being spoken and tone of voice, as well as pick up on the body language, emotional content, and the energy level of the client. The coach will use that information to craft thought-provoking questions, and offer observations and messages that may lead the client to having awareness bubble up from inside of them.

One well-crafted question that gets to the heart of the matter is worth 5 questions that are clarifying information or seeking more details.

An example

Let’s say a client wants to have a conversation with their most senior director about the direction of their division. Your client expresses that he hasn’t had a positive response from him in the past.

One coach might focus on understanding the details (focusing on the situation and problem-solving) and ask questions such as;

What would you like to have as an outcome for speaking with him?

What didn’t work the last time you spoke with him?

Another coach might focus on a question that gets to the heart of the matter such as;

What do you want him to know that you feel is too hard for you to say?

This question has more possibility for the client to dig deeper inside themself to get to their truth, and then be able to find their authentic voice. The coaching from there on may be about allowing the client to practice speaking from their truth so they can be more confident when speaking with their director.

More questions (and more time) may dilute the power of what the client discovers. And we know that client-led discovery leads to clarity, and is followed by authentic and inspired action.

In The Mentor Coaching Group, we support coaches to upgrade their coaching skills, and be in-the-flow with the ICF core competencies, using The Target Approach as the framework. Our focus is on the subtle distinctions about the mindset and presence of a coach, which can support transformative thinking in their clients. We do not want time to be the determining factor of whether the coaching was considered successful or ‘valuable.’

One Last Tip!

Be attentive to when the client is ‘done’ for the session. You’ll hear a natural ending, where the client is ‘full’ for this session. If this happens by 20 minutes into a 45 minute coaching session, then the coach may need to let go of their desire to add value by thinking it’s about keeping the client thinking, reflecting and talking for another 25 minutes. This could be counterproductive and take the client out of their optimal state that they may be in at 20 minutes.

You may need to have a conversation with your client about the value of coaching being their ability to gain the awareness they are seeking in order to move forward on their important outcomes….and that may mean the coaching session will end when the client is ‘done’ for now.

Registration for our last 3 month Mentor Coaching Group of 2014 is now open.

Commencing September 9 from noon-1.30pm Eastern/NY time. Registration is limited to 7 people on a first come, first served basis.


Carly Anderson and Karen Boskemper 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.

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

Carly and Karen also offer other mentoring options which you can find in the Store