We’ve all seen the movie. An outsider finds a rag-tag group of kids to coach, and with some leadership skills, a few words of wisdom, and a lot of grit, they’re somehow able to turn these kids into a championship-winning team.
Seems simple enough, right?
The reality is vastly different from a Hollywood fantasy. Coaching requires patience and support, but there’s more to it. It’s hard work, and sometimes we find ourselves asking if we’re actually helping our clients. But with these six effective coaching techniques that we can incorporate into our coaching processes, we’ll be more confident in our abilities. (And rightly so.)
Most people think of sports when they think of coaching, but coaching also happens off the fields and courts. Coaching is everywhere. Coaches work in schools, industries, and with individuals. Anytime people are striving to reach their peak potential, someone is guiding and supporting them. That’s the purpose of coaching.
The coaching skills we need to be successful are the same whether we use them to help others to improve their sales performance, diet and health outcomes, relationships, and more.
What defines an effective coach?
The characteristics of an effective coach are the same across the various types of coaching. It doesn’t matter if we’re coaching Little League or high-level executives. What makes a coach effective is:
- Goal-orientation: An effective coach has their eyes on the prize, and they help their clients do the same. A coach helps define a goal and illuminate why it’s essential for their clients to commit and reach their objectives.
- Positivity: Instead of focusing on a mistake, effective coaching determines what specific actions clients need to achieve the desired results. For example, coaches who think positively will say: “Next time, what can you do differently?” instead of “What did you do wrong?”
- Support: Being a supportive coach means more than just offering an encouraging word here and there. It means helping our clients access the tools, training, and resources they need to develop new skills and achieve their goals.
- Focus: Helping clients reach long-term goals requires a big picture view. But that doesn’t mean coaches can ignore the small targets along the way. A successful coach will break large goals into smaller, attainable milestones to keep their clients moving forward without becoming overwhelmed.
- Enthusiasm: A coach’s attitude is contagious. If they’re excited about working with clients, the clients will feel the same. A positive attitude goes a long way toward helping clients make progress.
We may be good coaches, but our aim is to improve and become great coaches. After all, we live, breathe, and teach self-improvement and progress. We can use these coaching techniques to hit the ground running. Let’s dig into how to be an effective coach at a fundamental level to build a solid foundation to lead us to greatness.
6 tips to attain coaching greatness
Great coaches, like great leaders, have an entire skill set they leverage to motivate their clients and team members to make the changes needed to be successful and reach their goals. Whatever coaching style we use, here are the top six fundamental competencies we need to become the best coaches in the field:
1. Build trust
This is the cornerstone of every coaching relationship. Whether we’re coaching employees or individual clients, we must show them we have faith in their abilities. Even mistakes offer an opportunity to guide them and demonstrate we’re confident they’ll do better next time.
Trust is a two-way street. We must be honest and transparent when dealing with our coachees. Our clients need to be confident we’re on their side and have their best interests at heart. Without this trust, our clients won’t apply our coaching tips to their life.
2. Listen more than you talk
It doesn’t matter how well developed our communication skills are; if we’re doing all the talking, our clients won’t make progress. Step back and let clients talk, asking questions only when we need clarity. We’ll understand the heart of their issues faster and offer better advice while demonstrating to our clients we genuinely care about them and what they have to say.
3. Be open to feedback
To be good at our jobs, implementing feedback into our coaching models helps us grow as coaches. We must listen to our clients with an open, flexible mindset when they tell us what’s working for them and what isn’t to adjust our programs to meet their needs. Remember, coaching isn’t about us; it’s about helping our clients develop and move forward.
4. Set attainable goals
Some people think an effective leader should set multiple, lofty goals to inspire others to achieve greatness. The opposite is true. We should aim for a single target if we want our clients and team to perform well and meet their objectives. They can devote their entire focus to their goal without being distracted or overwhelmed.
And remember, always stick to the SMART goal framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Here’s a breakdown and how an executive coaching client’s professional goals fall into the SMART framework:
- Specific: Increase units sold
- Measurable: By 10%
- Attainable: For the entire team
- Realistic: Compared to last year
- Timely: By the end of the fiscal year
5. Celebrate success
Don’t wait until a performance review or the end of our coaching period to pat people on the back. Take the time to recognize progress, no matter how small. It’s a great way to motivate people and keep them invested in success.
6. Ask focused questions
Sometimes, making a breakthrough comes down to asking the right questions. In coaching conversations, we use open-ended questions to drive clients toward self-awareness to fuel critical evaluation of their current circumstances and creative problem-solving. We should prepare a few questions ahead of our sessions:
- What’s your ideal outcome?
- Why do you want to reach this goal?
- What has contributed to your success so far?
- What have you already tried?
- What could be your next step?
- Who do you know that’s been in a similar situation? What did they do?
- If anything was possible, what would you do?
Become an effective coach with Practice
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to coaching. You need to adapt and evolve if you’re going to meet (and exceed) your clients’ needs. Be open to feedback and use this information to improve your coaching abilities and practice.
Set yourself up for coaching greatness by taking advantage of Practice’s platform and tools. We have everything you need, from customer relationship management software to scheduling tools and coaching practice templates, to take your business to the next level. Try Practice today.