The first two of three common mistakes in the previous blogs, failure to have a clear agreement and leading, are closely related to the third common mistake, telling, teaching, or advising. During coach training, the biggest paradigm shift for most is that coaches do NOT tell, teach, or advise – instead, they ask questions. A coach is a trained professional who holds the client as a whole person who is fully capable.
In exploring the third common mistake shared by Jim Smith in his presentation to ICF’s Ethics Community of Practice, there are several key points to highlight . From ICF’s Code of Ethics the definition for a coaching relationship includes having an agreement that defines responsibilities and expectations. This is again stated in number 2 in the code. In number 11 it talks about actively managing power or status difference. Number 21 addresses accuracy around what coaching offers. From the Core Competencies, under Embodies a Coaching Mindset, it says: Acknowledges clients are responsible for their own choices. Under Establishes and Maintains Agreements there are four points on partnering with the client so they determine focus, what to address, and their measure of success. Assessors are trained that if the conversation involves the coach primarily telling, teaching, or advising then it is a fail on the basis of coaching ethics.
The bottom line to all this is that it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure the coach asks powerful questions so the client explores for themself, makes their own choices, creates their own strategies and action plan, and celebrates their progress and success. Coaching certification teaches the competencies and ethics. Coach training includes practicing this during coaching sessions.
It is easy to tell people what to do. Coaching them so they find their own answers takes more time, skill, and patience. Coaching is a profession that requires training and ongoing learning to best serve clients. The good news? It works.