The dance of a coaching relationship can be as complex and nuanced as any other human interaction. You, as a coach, are looking to assist, inspire, and spark change. Your potential client is hoping to find a confidante and catalyst who can help them navigate challenges and make meaningful strides towards their goals.
However, not all dances can be performed with every partner. Just as in life, finding the right fit in coaching is critical to the success and satisfaction of both parties involved. A mismatched relationship can lead to frustration, stagnation, and disappointment. It’s crucial to ensure that both you and your potential client are in tune and in step from the very beginning.
Below are five steps to help you discover if you and a prospective client are a good match for working together:
1. Understand and Align on the Coaching Process
Before you embark on this partnership, it's essential to make sure that your potential client understands what coaching actually is and how it differs from mentoring, consulting, or therapy. This understanding and clarity of purpose set the stage for a successful coaching engagement.
Use your initial discussion to get very clear on your coaching process and the outcomes your client can expect from this relationship. The goal at this stage is to achieve understanding, buy-in, and genuine excitement from your potential client.
2. Evaluate Coachability
Determine whether what the client wants to achieve is a coachable area or not. Simply put, ask yourself if coaching can effectively create a meaningful impact, given the client's current situation and where they aspire to be or do.
Don't shy away from asking probing questions during intake to decode any metaphors and gain a clear understanding of their expectations. Reflect on what you, as a coach, expect from them and whether these expectations are realistic and achievable.
3. Address Confidentiality
Openness and honesty are pillars of a coaching relationship. However, unlike certain other professional relationships, confidentiality in a coaching engagement is not legally privileged.
It's crucial to communicate this to your potential client from the outset. Discuss your duties as a coach regarding the disclosure of client information when legally obligated.
4. Set Boundaries
Be sure to be clear about how and when you work. Setting boundaries and expectations around communication and working together early on can save you both a lot of stress and trouble. If the potential client struggles to respect your boundaries early on, it may indicate potential friction down the line. Examples of boundaries for you as a coach might include: only working by phone or video, texting or not texting between sessions, overall availability, etc.
5. Assess Personal Compatibility
Now, consider whether or not you have a good synchronicity with your potential client. Coaching requires mutual respect and trust, for it to be a successful engagement.
Reflect on your feelings about partnering for coaching with this person. Are you ready to care for them, believe in them, and can you sense the same respect and belief from them? A coaching relationship is a partnership of equals, and mutual agreement and alignment are crucial for success.
6. Check for Professional Alignment
Does your professional expertise align with what the client wants to accomplish? Reflect on your niche, background, techniques, and interventions, and evaluate whether these can help the client accomplish their goals.
7. Acknowledge Any Potential Issues
Similarly, be conscious of your triggers and values - if the client's objectives conflict with your own beliefs or ethics in a way that you are not able to resolve, it may impact the coaching relationship and they may not be YOUR client.
It's perfectly normal, healthy and okay to acknowledge that you may not be the right fit for every client. If there's any discord or discomfort, it's best not to proceed with the coaching relationship.
Being a successful coach is about more than just wanting to help others. It involves aligning your professional capabilities and personal values with those of your client. Remember, not being a good fit for a certain client doesn't diminish your worth or capabilities as a coach. Every coach has a unique style and approach, and there's a client who needs what you have to offer.
Coaching is a rapidly growing field that is continuously evolving. Even for seasoned coaches and managers, there’s always more to discover. If you’ve not already earned your ICF coaching credential, there’s no better time than now to get started! Come check out Lumia Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a collective force for good.
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