Being an Awesome Coach vs “Just a Coach”
There’s a BIG difference between being an every day, “Average Joe” coach and being an amazing coach that your client attributes their success to.
A key to making that difference is: assuming the responsibilities that come with being a coach!
Who can forget the famous line of Peter Parker’s uncle? He said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Society expects Spiderman, a comic book, TV and movie superhero with extraordinary powers, to be responsible for saving his town and the world from the forces of Evil. And he never lets us down. Despite the temptations of owning such powers, he uses his abilities only for the good of the people around him.
Being a coach has similar parallels. They don’t have superhuman powers such as x-ray vision or flying through the air with magic sticky ropes, but great coaches can have real power through their abilities to help others and, with it, the responsibility to guide others towards success. This is REAL power that can be used to help real people in THIS world. Done well, coaches can help others turn their lives around. Done wrong, and a coach could guide a client down the wrong path, leaving them more lost than when they first found you.I’ve seen this happen and it can be devastating to the client. Like doctors, I think we have a duty to “do no harm”.
Naturally, with this power to coach your clients towards manifesting their personal and/or business vision comes responsibilities. Great coaches assume them all as part of professional responsibility. This can include everything from making sure your client is moving in the right direction, getting them back on course when they are not, and developing and tracking their use of exercises to help them along the way.
There are a few things you can do to be a more responsible coach. Just as important, these same skills can be imparted to your clients to help them lead more responsible, integrity-filled lives.
How to Bring out the more Responsible You in Yourself and your Client
#1 — Develop Self-Awareness
Learn and know your own strengths and weaknesses to be able to view your behavior objectively. Recognize your shortcomings, receive feedback, and make changes when necessary. The more self-aware you become of all your aspects, the more you will know what kind of clients you can coach best and, just as important, know when to refer out to others.
Dr. Gerard Bell, a business consultant and professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, advises us on how to expand our self-knowledge.
He said, “Study yourself closely and practice self-assessment techniques to learn how you behave, and the effects you have on others. Ask others for their opinion, feedback, and suggestions to become a better coach.”
The lesson is simple: the more we grow, the more we can offer, and the more we can help others.
#2: Learn to Separate Responsibility from Worry
When we hear the word “responsibility”, we often think to ourselves, “Another task, another problem.” However, responsibility is not about worrying over things given to us to work out. Consider this story:
One night at the end of the second shift, a Head of Operations walked out of the plant he managed and passed a porter. The porter said, “Mr. Smith, I sure wish I had your pay. But I wouldn’t want the worry that goes with it.”
Mr. Smith answered, “I give the best I can when I am here. But I drop the worry when I leave so I can be 100% with my family when I’m at home.”
You, too, can learn to give your best to challenging work, but then “leave it at the door” when you’re off-duty. Worrying accomplishes nothing except to eat away at us, and actually ends up making us less effective! Don’t let worry taint your clarity of judgment and ability to take decisive action. You can learn this as you grow.
Carrying the responsibility of coaching should not intimidate you. It is the ability to help others that coaching is all about. Embrace the responsibilities that come with it.
Nothing is gained by worrying about whether your clients achieve their goals or not. Focus on supporting and inspiring them. Be their partner in their growth. Brainstorm with them when it is called for. But ultimately, it is your client’s responsibility to assume responsibility for accomplishing their goals. You merely help them see and achieve this state.
#3: Take Calculated Risks and Learn from Your Mistakes
Effective coaches have the courage to ask their clients to take risks when results and success are uncertain. A willingness to risk failure is a core attribute of all successful people.
As a coach, you can help your clients work with risk and possible failure. Help them learn to analyze their situation and options. Work with them to list the pros and cons for each option, then assign each choice a risk factor rating from 1 to 5. Next, have them determine the likelihood of each occurring. This will help them quantify and manage the risk-taking process.
Also, lead them to a better paradigm regarding failure. What is failure other than great feedback that our current course of action isn’t the right path? Use this information for course correction. Failure doesn’t happen until we give up. If you don’t give up, then failure isn’t an option.
#4: Own and admit our mistakes
Our greatest lessons and growth come through our mistakes. Everyone makes them; it is part of life. Help your client understand this, and they will be able to draw the necessary lessons and take corrective action. If we play the “blame game”, we don’t even take the first step (ownership) in this process.
Not only does owning our mistakes and failures help us to be more truthful and powerful in our own lives. Owning and assuming responsibility for them lets others see the integrity and virtue within us, and hence further gain their respect.
The reality is, at the end of the day, our clients are ultimately responsible for making decisions about their own lives and taking the action that best aligns with the goals they want to achieve. We, as coaches, cannot “make” them do anything.
It is also not our clients' responsibility to be successful in order to make us look good as coaches.
But as coaches, we are being entrusted to support another human being to reach the highest potential that they can while in our “care”. We, therefore, have a responsibility to them to get out of our own way in order to show up for them with all we have to give.
- Cultivate self-awareness
- Let go of worry
- Take calculated risks and learn from your mistakes
- and take OWNERSHIP of your own journey…it’s one of the most valuable assets you offer your client.
You are meant to be more than an average coach. Do whatever it takes and know that you’re helping more people reach their potential every day.
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This is a curated, licensed, and adapted article