It is the responsibility of the coach to help the client to get the most out of their coaching session, starting with asking the client for the focus, and what they’d like to accomplish in this session (e.g. What would you like to have by the end of this session that you don’t have now?). This is part of the skill set of the ICF core competency of Establishing the Coaching Agreement.
If you have already established the larger coaching agreement for the entire coaching engagement (Planning and Goal Setting), then asking the client what they’d like to focus on in this session will relate in some way to them moving forward with their larger coaching plan.
It takes practice to become good at establishing the coaching session agreement, because what the client initially says they want to be coached on may not be what they really want. Their initial stated focus may be the entry point to inquiring about the deeper or real outcome they desire. This is where the ICF core competency of Coaching Presence of the coach comes into play.
For example, the client may initially say they want to make sure their direct report is successful in a new role they are being promoted in to. With further inquiry, it becomes clear that what the client really wants is to figure out how to be a great mentor to their direct report, a role they may be unfamiliar with.
If the coach has the presence (and mindset) of being a problem-solver, then they will focus the coaching session around solving the client’s problem and circumstances, also known as focusing on the What.
If the coach has the presence and mindset of seeing the client as resourceful, possessing self-knowledge, and strengths, then they will seek to focus the session more on the mindset and Who level of the client. Then the initial ‘issue’ or ‘problem’ the client describes will be viewed as simply an obstacle in the way to their true vision. This completely shifts the focus for the coaching session, and provides an opportunity for deeper and more transformational coaching to occur.
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