Whether it's appropriate for coaches to give advice is an important debate that keeps arising. After hearing many different points of view and contemplating it myself, I have to question whether like for most things in life, there's truly a blanket answer. So in this quest...
Hmm I wonder: What’s considered to be “advice"?
- Something like ”you need to . . .” or “I think you should . . . ” or “It would be best if you . . .” is clearly advice. And I assume the majority of coaches probably prefer not to use this approach.
- Looking at my own coaching however I wondered about “May I make a bold request?” or “Would you be willing to take on some homework?” or “Could I share a tool with you that I have found to be invaluable?”
- Even with checking to be sure I'm in alignment with the client’s agenda, these kinds of conversations can certainly be seen as providing direction. And some may even consider it subtle advice cloaked in the form of a question.
Hmm I wonder: What about tips, tools and expertise?
- Across every niche, whether it be life, spiritual, relationship, health, etc., one would be hard pressed to find a coach’s website in which they don’t offer some wonderful information, tips, tools, etc., in their area of expertise.
- Do coaches not at some point(s) offer their hard-earned wisdom to their clients during a session? What form does this or “should” this take?
- Is this advice, sharing, teaching? What’s acceptable? Who decides?
Hmm I wonder: What does the ICF have to say about it?
- Even for the ICF credentialing purposes it’s not crystal clear: http://bit.ly/wy2Lvt They say that "one will not pass if they focus primarily on telling the client what to do or how to do it". So then is it OK to do it part of the time, if that’s the way someone wants to coach?
Hmm I wonder: Did Thomas Leonard offer any insights?
- Interestingly, Thomas Leonard, the man considered to have originated modern coaching and founded the ICF had this to say years ago about coaches giving advice:
"Many of the newer clients hiring coaches are hiring that coach not only for their coaching skills set but also for the coach's situational knowledge and solutions set. Traditional/purist coaching will be around for a long time, but the market is asking for coaches with solutions, not just coaches who are good at evoking or supporting. Both are important. The definition of coaching is expanding because the marketplace is demanding it."
Hmm I wonder: How much of a role might the specific niche play in this discussion?
- Personally I love and resonate with what I believe to be the basic premise of coaching: that there is an inherent greatness within each of us and we are the only ones who have the answers for our own lives.
- I liken it to the example of when Michelangelo was asked how he created his masterpiece sculpture, “David”. He replied that he didn’t, he simply chipped away all that wasn’t David.
- Nevertheless, when I go to a business or marketing coach, they could help me chip away from now until eternity, and I will never have the answer as to how to get better SEO or the mechanics of creating a successful landing page!
- In the purist coach approach yes they could ask me questions to help me discover where I could go to find the answers for myself but then again I might as well go to business school.
Hmm I wonder: Then where does this informal study that I really relate to fit in?
- A Master Executive Coach on one of the MMC calls (unfortunately I can’t remember just now who it was) said that she had performed her own personal study over a number of years. She found that when she gave the client advice, a very small percentage of the time it was acted upon. But when the client came up with their own strategy, a high percentage of them acted on it and to their advantage.
Hmm I wonder:
- Perhaps then for each of us it all depends on our definition, the approach, the intention, the frequency, the niche, the timing, the client, our own personal coaching style and of course good old trial and error.
And after all that wondering:
- I wind up where I began with my original premise: that neither life nor coaches nor coaching is all black and white, there are many beautiful shades of gray. There seems to be lots of room in the industry for all different styles and approaches. There are certainly many different needs and personalities of clients.
- So I just say thank God for the wonder of coaching:) And to be able to choose the shade of gray that works best for me.
Seriously: What a gift!
- How fortunate we are at MMC to hear many of the different styles of coaching that are happening out there in the world.
- It has opened & broadened my perspective. I’m learning and growing both as a coach and as a person.
- And as a result of hearing others coaching, especially the Masters, I’m constantly refining and redefining my coaching and who and what I want to be and represent as a coach.