The What Who and How of Coaching

Every single coaching client (and their corporation) I’ve worked with over the past 21 years wants a result from our coaching. That’s a given in every coaching engagement.

Yet the way we engage with our client makes a huge difference to the results the client might attain from our coaching.

Coaching is simple in that it’s about establishing where the client is now, where they want to be instead, and how to bridge the gap between current and future desired state.

This article is offers What, Who and How distinctions, which can be applied to the overall coaching engagement. Or could be the subject of any individual coaching session.

Establish the desired coaching results (What)  

The WHAT of coaching is important to know. Which is, Why is this client engaging in coaching at this time?

Coaching is human focused, so ask Ideal Future State questions to establish the reason for this human’s engagement in this coaching. Some example questions;

What are you ideally wanting to create next?

How do you want to be describing yourself when you’ve attained the results you want from our coaching?

What is motivating you to want this?

Why now?

What will you be doing differently?

What emotions will you be experiencing more of or less of?

Focus on the client (WHO)

Focus on the WHO of your client – Yes, that’s coaching training jargon! My assertion is that focusing on the Who of the client gives the potential for transformational versus transactional results for your client. Meaning more long-lasting results than short term fixes.

You’ll notice in my question examples above, some of the questions are already focused on the Who of the client; their ideal self in their situation.

Other questions to get to the Who are below. Some of this might be illuminated from an assessment (e.g. 360, strengths, values, emotional and social intelligence). Or just through your good coaching questions and listening.

What strengths do you have that you’re using effectively?

Which of your strengths might be under-utilized?

Which of your strengths might be overused?

What personal values are important to you?

How effectively are you expressing your values and strengths in this context (e.g. work)?

What is your current level of fulfillment?

How do you use your emotions effectively?

How do you use your emotions ineffectively?

Bridge the gap from Present to Future (HOW)

Once the Ideal Future State, and Current State are established, then the rest of coaching is around bridging the Gap between those two, which is the HOW.

So much great coaching can occur from engaging the client in what I’ve already outlined. Now, here are some example questions about the How part of the client. I deliberately started all questions with How, yet questions could start with What as well. For example, “What needs to shift in you to be more authentically yourself at work?”

Notice how all of the questions below are about the Who of the client, which are questions about themselves, which in turn will help them to be more effective in their situation.

How do you be more authentically you at work?

How do you be even more congruent with what you think, espouse, and what you actually do?

How can you express your values more often?

How do you engage your strengths more effectively?

How do you engage others who you do not have rapport with?

How do you engage with others with conflicting views to you?

How do you communicate more effectively (what does that mean to you to communicate more effectively)?

How do you engage in self-care and self-kindness?

How do shift your mindset (attitude, habits) in order to achieve your Ideal Future State?

How do you manage yourself when you are in upset or fear?

How do you engage with people who are upset, fearful or angry?

How do you engage with people who are happy, excited, effusive or passionate?

How do you use your emotions more effectively?

How can you use non-logic driven information (e.g. knowing, sensing, intuition) to inform your behavior as well?

In closing…

It’s our role as coach to really listen to and hear our client. To draw their self-knowledge to their conscious awareness; their strengths, values, emotions, what they know about themselves when seeking to change their behavior or mindset. So they can use that knowledge. And help them figure out for themselves what else is missing and how to bridge the gap to where they want to be next. Only then, might there be some other expert knowledge brought in.

Focus on truly being curious about Who your Client Is. Notice and listen for their Greatness. Draw out and connect them to their self-knowledge first. Support them to see themselves in new and different ways. Establish where they are now and where they want to be. Then coach your client to move closer to that Future Ideal State, one coaching session at a time.

Here’s some inspiration from the late David Bowie which could be a great mindset for any coach to embrace.

“What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That’s what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.”


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2 thoughts on “The What Who and How of Coaching

    1. Thank you Rahman. That is my number 1 intention when I write my articles. Short, simple and adding value to coaches.

      Warmest regards, Carly

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