5 Things You Should Expect From Your Coach

[This is the first of a two-part series on the role of your professional coach and your role in the coaching relationship.]

”I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” Bob Nardelli, former CEO, Home Depot

Or the past 20 years, we’ve all witnessed the explosive growth of the professional coaching industry. Today there are tens of thousands of individuals who claim to possess the wisdom, skills, and character to guide your next-level progressional growth.

While many are worthy indeed of your time and investment, I want to share five critical things you should expect from any professional coach. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting place for discussion whenever you consider your next coaching engagement.

[Side note: these are the exact five expectations I discuss with my potential coaching clients BEFORE we agree to a coaching arrangement.]

Here are the 5 things you should expect (even demand) of your professional coach.

A professional coach should:

1. Listen carefully and ask lots of questions. The primary role of any professional coach is to listen deeply to help uncover the real problem(s). Often the problem you think needs to be solved may not be the real issue. Great coaches ask probing, thoughtful questions, then help crystallize the foundational issues that need to be addressed.

2. Bring new knowledge and wisdom when appropriate. A coach is NOT a consultant, someone who brings you automatic, prescriptive solutions. A professional coach offers insights and new learning only at the appropriate time and place, not to overwhelm with their expertise, but to spur you along to achieving your goals (see #5). I tell my clients that I haven’t the foggiest idea how to run their business, but I can help them clarify what they need to do to become the leader they are called to be.

3. Encourage you to believe in yourself & exhort you to reach new heights. So often I work with men and women who have great skills, impressive resumes, and a passion to “do something big” but lack the belief in themselves to make it happen.  Every entrepreneur or leader (including you) occasionally needs an objective, blunt, no-sugar-coated outsider to offer unfiltered feedback that educates, exhorts, and encourages you to become all you were created by God to be. Nothing thrills me more than to sense the light bulbs go off inside the heart, soul, and spirit of my clients when they realize they CAN do it, whatever “it” is.

4. Help maximize your strengths and make your weaknesses irrelevant. Through assessments and work history analysis, a good coach can help crystallize and better leverage your core professional strengths. Likewise, a good coach can help you find creative ways to work around your professional weaknesses so you can concentrate more on doing what you do best.

There is one big exception – if one of your weaknesses seriously debilitates your ability to function or excel, then minimizing that issue could become the focus of the coaching engagement (e.g. – lack or professional tact, poor communication skills, an over-controlling nature, etc.)

5. Hold you accountable for the action plans you develop. Here is the biggest pay off of a coach – to hold you accountable for the goals YOU create through the coach’s guidance. Once your goals are clear, the coach then guides, supports, and redirects with more questions, wisdom, and encouragement reminding you to continue leveraging your strengths (#1-#4 above) all the while monitoring your progress toward maximizing your results

These are the five things I teach all my clients to expect from me. In the next post, I’ll review five things all great coaches should expect from their clients.

What else should you expect from your professional coach? Leave your comments and expectations below.