I’m so excited to help you answer the question of whether you’re meant to be a coach or not. Deep down, I suspect you already know the answer. That’s why you’re here checking out this podcast and that tells me that, yes, you probably are meant to be a coach.
But I still think it will be helpful for me to do a deep dive into the five qualities and traits that successful transformational coaches embody and that’s exactly what I’m doing in this episode.
- How powerful coaches redefine what it means to be creative
- Why embodying openness is critical for a transformational coach
- How awareness helps transformational coaches provide effective guidance
- How curiosity helps powerful coaches take their relationship with their client to a deeper level
- Why heart-centered coaches know their clients don’t need them
- How you can cultivate each of five qualities of a successful transformational coach
- Coach with Clarity Membership
- Coach with Clarity | Episode 1: What is Coaching?
- Discover Your Coaching Superpower Quiz
Now it’s time for you to show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity! Screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and let me know what you’re more excited to explore in future podcast episodes!
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Discover your Coaching Superpower! Go to https://coachingquiz.com to learn more about your strengths – and what to look out for – as a coach.
Want to work together? Become a Coach with Clarity Member today!
Well, hello friend, and welcome back to the Coach with Clarity podcast. This is Lee Chaix McDonough, and I am so excited about today's episode because we are about to answer a very important question. And actually, I suspect deep down you already know the answer to it, which is why you're here, which is why you're listening to this podcast. But the question that we are going to address today is: Are you meant to be a coach?
See, I'm willing to bet that because you are listening to this show, you’re already suspecting that coaching may be the right path, the right profession for you. And so the fact that you're listening to this show today tells me that the answer is probably yes, yes, you are meant to be a coach. But I thought it would also be helpful to dive a little deeper into the qualities and traits that really successful transformational coaches embody.
And here's the good news. I fully believe that coaches, to varying levels, naturally embody most, if not all, of these traits. But let's say there's one that you feel not quite as strong in. That's okay. Because there are ways that we can cultivate more of these traits in our lives. And I'll walk you through how to do that at the end of the podcast.
But before we get into those qualities and traits, and before I give you some ideas about how to build them in your life, I want to make sure that we're starting from the same place. So again, I'm making some assumptions about you. I am assuming that you are listening to this podcast because you have a deep interest in coaching, that you feel a calling or a longing to show up and serve your people in a new way, in a different way, maybe a more powerful way. So whatever it is you're currently doing right now in your life, whether you are serving others as a health care provider, whether you're a creative entrepreneur who's focused on the service that you provide your clients, whatever your background, my assumption is that you love the people you serve. You love the work you do, you're really good at it. And for a while, that was enough.
But recently, or maybe for some of you, even for a while, there's been this sense that you are meant for more, that you are destined to have a greater impact on the lives of the people you serve, or the lives of your friends and family, and in your own life as well. And you've started exploring coaching as a way to deepen that impact. That is our starting point.
So those are the assumptions I'm making about you – that you are a very talented, very devoted professional, that no matter who you serve, or how you serve them, you have fully committed to the process and it served you very well for a long time. And now you are feeling pulled to work with your people in a different way. And that's why you're exploring coaching.
So if that's where you're at, you are in the right place. And I'm willing to bet that you do possess these qualities that I'm about to cover. So I invite you to listen with an open heart and an open mind, and as we go through these five qualities, I want you to be thinking about how these qualities show up for you right now in your life. It might be in your professional capacity, it may be in your personal life, but I want you to listen to each one and start thinking about where they show up for you.
So the very first quality I want to talk about is creativity. Powerful coaches are creative. They naturally envision new ideas and they are always seeking new, different and innovative ways to approach common everyday situations. Now, sometimes when people hear the word creative, they automatically default to a very limited definition of what it means to be creative or creativity. I know I did for a very long time. WheneverI heard the word creative, I immediately went to the arts. Maybe it was fine arts like painting or sculpture. In my case, I was a theater major in college. And so dramatic art was certainly one way of expressing creativity. But even then, my scope of what it meant to be creative was really, really narrow.
If you hear the word creative, and you think, “Well, I'm not creative, I'm not artistic, I'm not a writer. I'm not a performer. I can't be creative.” I want to push back against that. And I want to challenge you to broaden your understanding of creativity, because within all of us lies the seed of creativity where we can bring new things to life. And yes, for some people, those things are art. But for others, they are ideas. For others, they are opportunities. And so when we are able to view the world through this broad lens, where we're looking for innovative solutions, well, that, my friends is creativity. So I want to give you permission to think of yourself as a creative person, as a creative being, because that creativity is crucial to being a powerful coach.
Because we are operating from this creative place, we reject black and white thinking. So whenever someone presents an either/or possibility to us – either I do this or I do that, either this happens or that happens – our first instinct is to wonder if that's true and to start to look for a different approach. We know that there are limitless possibilities and numerous ways to move forward in any given situation, even if on the surface, it seems like there's only one or maybe two ways forward. And we tap into our creativity to help us explore those new possibilities. So people who are creative are enthusiastic, they're inspired, and they really know no bounds when it comes to what's possible.
That’s the first quality – creativity. And before we move on to the next one, I want you to pause for a minute. I want you to think about where in your life you express your creativity. Is it in your relationship with your partner? Are you thinking of new fun things to do in order to strengthen your bond? Or perhaps you're a parent and you are really good at coming up with new ways to engage with your children. Or maybe it is in your profession, maybe you are known as someone who is innovative and cutting edge, and you are always on the forefront of new things in your industry. Each of those examples are different ways of being creative. So I want you to spend a moment thinking about what creativity looks like in your life.
And once you have that in mind, then we can move on to the second quality, which is openness. Powerful transformational coaches embody the quality of openness. They are deeply interested in other people's perspectives and viewpoints. They want to know what others think and how others would approach given situations.
People who are naturally open also are inherently resilient, because they tend to view challenges or unexpected events as opportunities. So let's say that they plan for something and the exact opposite happens. Well, for many of us, our initial impulse would be to be disappointed or angry or upset, but when we're able to really leverage our openness, then we can find the opportunity in that setback. That's a really powerful, important quality in a coach and it's something that we are often able to model for our clients.
The other thing to remember with openness is that it does mean that we are unattached to the outcome. So just like when that unexpected or even unwanted thing happens, we don't get wrapped up in what it means about us. We stay unattached from the outcome because we understand that there is meaning in purpose in everything, even the unexpected.
Now, there's another piece of openness that I want to talk about specifically with regard to coaching, and that is being open to our clients’ experiences and thoughts. Because, as I mentioned in Episode One, coaches do not tell their clients what to do and they don't come in with a strategy or a game plan that a client implements without question. No, coaching is a partnership and we believe in the client’s creativity and openness just as much as we do our own.
So that whole unattached to outcome and being interested in other people's perspectives, allows us to place sincere faith and trust in our client that they can develop the solutions that will work best for them, and that they know inherently what is right. And as the coach, our job then is to guide them to ask the right questions and to help them tap into their own inner wisdom. It's not for us to come in and tell them what to do, or to use our experiences as the bar for what's right and what's wrong.
A coach that is open is also open to the possibility that the client’s deep wisdom will guide them, and that wisdom may lead them to make a decision that we wouldn't make for ourselves. And that's okay, provided that everyone's safe and no laws are being broken. It is perfectly acceptable that the client may choose a path that's different from ours. And because we embody the quality of openness, we can accept that without judgment, without shame, without making it mean something about our success as a coach. Because again, at the end of the day, our job is to help the client achieve what they want, in the manner that's going to serve them best.
So just as I had you do with creativity, I want you to take a moment and think about the quality of openness and where you naturally exhibit it in your life. And once you've had a chance to do that, then come back, re-engage with me, and let's talk about the third quality of powerful coaches. And that is the quality of awareness.
Truly transformational coaches are fully and deeply aware of everything that's going on around them and within them. In many coach training programs, we place a high emphasis on being aware of the client, and noticing what they're thinking, how they're feeling, how those thoughts and feelings are influencing their actions. We’re aware of how the client is presenting in session, we listened for subtext, we are solely and singularly focused on the client’s experience, and we remain fully aware so that we can provide effective guidance. That is a critical part of being a powerful coach.
I want to suggest another type of awareness that is just as important, and that maybe doesn't get as much attention paid to it. That first one was being conscious of others, so it's more of an interpersonal awareness. It is also incredibly important for a coach to be conscious of the self. So more of an intrapersonal awareness. This is where we are fully engaged with our own thoughts and feelings in the coaching session, so that while we are taking in all of the information and data that we're getting from our clients, we're also aware of our own internal responses. We are attuned to what is coming up for ourselves as we are in session with the client.
So if a client says something that sends our mind on a tangent, if it triggers us, if we have some sort of visceral response to it, we have the self-awareness needed to note that. We can say, “Oh, look what's coming up for me.” But then we don't follow that tangent down a rabbit hole, we re-engage in the present moment, and we stay with the client because that's our role as a coach.
We can only do that when we have the self-awareness to notice that process, to meet ourselves again with that openness and without judgment, and to do our own work at a later time. We can only do that when we are fully aware of what's going on within us. As we cultivate that balance between being fully present and aware for the client while maintaining that internal awareness, that balance – that's a skill that comes with practice, it comes with maturity. And I believe that that is the sign of a truly masterful coach.
This high level of awareness means that powerful coaches are able to make connections based on their observations. That includes the observations they have from the world around them and from their client, and also from the observations that they're making internally. And so having that level of awareness, and having that balance, allows a powerful coach to pay attention to the cues, to make connections between what we know ,what we see, and what we feel, and then allow that to inform how we engage with the client.
The types of questions we're asking, the types of actions were encouraging, again, coaches with a high level of awareness are naturally attentive. They're very insightful and they know how to pay attention to and honor their intuition. Again, that's all part of being tuned into the self, as well as being conscious of others and understanding the interplay between the two.
Take a moment and think about this concept of awareness. Notice where it naturally occurs in your life. Where or when do you find yourself being fully aware? What does that look like in your life? So we've covered the first three of the five qualities I want to go over today: creativity, openness and awareness.
So the fourth quality is curiosity. Masterful transformational coaches are naturally curious. They have a strong drive to learn more, to discover new things to go deeper. And I think that curiosity is really what allows coaches to tap into their own potential and also help their clients tap into theirs. There is a belief that there's always more to see and understand and explore, and that curiosity is what propels really powerful coaches into deep relationships with their clients.
Coaches who are curious are interested in more than just the what. A lot of times when we're working with clients and we start the session by asking what they want to talk about, the client stays very much on the superficial level. They may give us details about what's been going on in their life for the last day or the last week, they may want to fill us in on office drama. They're very much detail-oriented with the what, and coaches pick up on that, with that awareness we can pay attention to those details.
And we are also very much interested in the how and the why and the what if. We are able to take the data that the client is giving us through their words and through their nonverbal cues, and we can hear the what. But we also are so curious, we want to know more about what's driving the what we want to know how something is happening. We want to know why something's happening. And we want to know what if something changes, because that's really where the fun happens. That's where we can partner with our clients to explore new ways of approaching a given situation.
Coaches that are naturally curious, or coaches who have really taken time to cultivate curiosity, are willing to take risks and they're willing to try new things. And that makes sense because when you're curious, you're stretching yourself. You are pushing yourself outside the bounds of what's on the surface, or what's part of our normal everyday life. No, they want to go deep.
And in order to do that, that does mean taking a risk. It means trying something new and understanding that that new thing may or may not work out. And that's okay. Because when we match that curiosity, with openness, then we can try those new things, we can take a new approach. And if it doesn't work out the way we think, if we have an unexpected outcome, because we are detached from that outcome, we don't take it personally. We just view it as data that can inform our next decision.
So coaches that are curious are naturally inquisitive. They are our true explorers. They are always looking for what's out there. And what's next. And as a result, they're very cutting edge and very innovative. So I'm curious, no pun intended. Where does curiosity show up in your life? In what areas of your life are you constantly seeking more knowledge, wanting to go deeper? Where does that curiosity streak show up for you?
And you may be curious what the fifth and final quality is that I'm going to talk about today. And if you've been using your awareness skills, then you've noticed that I've started spelling a word. We have creativity, openness, awareness, curiosity – C O A C. So yeah, you better believe the fifth word starts with an H to make the acronym COACH.
And that fifth quality is heart. Transformational coaches embody heart. They are always seeking to connect deeply with others. They come from a place of true service, and love. They are deeply devoted to serving and supporting others, and not from a place of “Here, let me help you” or “Here, there's something wrong, let me fix it.” But actually more from a place of empowerment, from a place of saying, “I want to walk with you and partner with you, so that you can become everything you want to be and more.” We approach this from an unconditional perspective of acceptance, faith and love for our clients, because we know, we believe that they are capable of so much. And so in serving them, we are empowering them.
I think it's worth spending a little time on this point, because I've known many people who have pursued coaching because they want to help people, because they know that they bring a lot of wisdom and experience with them from their own lives, and they want to share that with others so that they can improve the lives of others. And listen, there's nothing wrong with that. That's very noble and to devote your life to helping others. That is an honorable path.
But let's be clear that when we approach life and when we approach other people and view them as needing our help, or needing our guidance, well then, we are disempowering them. We are viewing them as someone or something that is not perfect the way they are, that can't do it alone, and that, in fact, if they don't have us in their life, they're not going to make it. That is not the approach that a heart-centered coach takes.
A heart-centered coach understands that our clients don't need us. They already have everything they need to be successful. And stay with me here, because I know this might sound a little odd. But truly, our clients don't need us. But our clients want us. They know that when they partner with us, they will achieve everything that they're capable of and then some, and they will likely do it faster, and with more fulfillment and fun.
So when we enter the profession of coaching, and we come at it with a heart-centered perspective, it's not because we need to fix our clients. And it's not even that we need to help them either. Because our clients don't need our help. But they want to partner with us. They will want to learn with us, and they want to create an experience that's rooted in mutual respect, in creativity and in possibility. So when we bring this heart into coaching, we are empathic, we are empathetic, and we are service oriented, but not from a place of fixing, but from a place of empowering.
So take a minute and really sit with this quality of heart. How does it show up in your life? Where do you show up with unconditional love and positive regard for the people in your life? And how do you serve them from this place of empowerment?
And now that we've covered all five qualities of a powerful coach, creativity, openness, awareness, curiosity and heart, it's time to explore how to put these into action in the Clarity in Action moment.
So let's really talk about what it looks like to harness these five qualities of creativity, openness, awareness, curiosity and heart. And actually, if you haven't yet gone to https://coachingquiz.com and taken the quiz, I want to encourage you to do, so because these five qualities that we've just gone through today, they show up in different ways for different people. And when you know your unique coaching style, and how it shows up in the work that you do, it becomes easier to connect that with these five traits. So be sure to head to https://coachingquiz.com and find out what type of coach you are, because that will give you another lens through which you can view these five qualities.
I want you to remember that it is perfectly okay if one or two of these come more easily or more naturally to you, and if one or two maybe take a little practice – that's certainly the case for me.
To be perfectly honest with you, I think the awareness and heart qualities are ones that I tend to embody pretty naturally. Whereas I really have to practice curiosity and openness. It's really easy for me to kind of do what I've always done, to even get stuck in a rut. And if I'm honest, I can get attached to the outcome. I want things to go my way and I can get really disappointed when they don't. Openness and curiosity are the qualities that I am constantly working on cultivating more of in my life. So again, if you're feeling like some of these qualities come naturally to you and others take a little more work, that's okay. You're in the right place.
So let's talk about how you can cultivate each one of the five qualities. If you are interested in bringing more creativity into your life, then I'm going to encourage you to look for new approaches or new ways of doing things. It can be as simple as taking a different route the next time you go for a walk or a run. Or if there's an issue or problem that regularly occurs for you throughout your day, then pause and ask yourself, what could be a new way to approach this? How can I bring a different view to the situation? So again, it's really asking us to develop and stretch our creativity muscles when we look for new solutions or new ways of approaching routine things in our life. So that's one way that you can cultivate creativity.
But what if you're like me, what if you're someone for whom openness isn't always the easiest quality to embody? Well, I'll tell you what not to do. First, do not shame yourself or make yourself feel badly if you find yourself getting attached to an outcome or disappointed if something doesn't go your way. It is totally normal and understandable to be disappointed or upset or even angry if things don't go the way you want.
If you notice those feelings, or when you notice those feelings come up, well, then the first step is to be open to those feelings. So instead of trying to shut them down or avoid them, we simply notice them. We can even say, “Oh look, I noticed that I'm having the feeling of disappointment because this didn't go my way.” That's actually the first step towards cultivating openness because you are remaining open to your experiences, and then just notice what comes up for you.
Once you've had a chance to work through the emotions, then perhaps the next step may be to ask yourself where the opportunity is in this unexpected or even unwanted event. But we don't want to blow past our emotions to get to the opportunity. We do need to acknowledge the thoughts and feelings that come up first, and then we can remain open to what might be possible as a result of this unexpected outcome.
Now what if you wanted to cultivate the quality of awareness in your life? Well first, I want you to assess the two levels of awareness we talked about: the interpersonal, which involves other people, or the intrapersonal, which involves looking within the self. I want you to choose one of those, so before we take on both, let's really focus on developing one type of awareness.
For example, if you would like to cultivate greater intrapersonal awareness, then I suggest you really lean into your internal experiences. Notice what's going on within your body, both from a physical sensation, but also from an emotional sensation as well. It can even be right now as you're listening to this podcast. Notice where you are in the world. If you're seated, notice where your body is making contact with your chair. If you're going for a walk while you're listening to this podcast, which sounds lovely, notice your thoughts or your feelings as you take in the world around you.
So really lean in to your inner life, and start noticing the connection between that rich inner life and your inner wisdom, or your intuition. Pay attention if you get any nudges or hunches, or any feeling that perhaps you can't logically explain, but you just sense that this is the right step, or this is the next thing I should do. That's all a part of cultivating your internal awareness.
Now, if you'd like to really build your curiosity, I'm going to bring you back to the three elements I mentioned before about what curious coaches are interested in. Remember, they're not just curious in the what, but they are also interested in the how, the why and the what if. So, by bringing those three questions into our day-to-day life – the how, the why, and the what if – then we are naturally building our curiosity. That causes us to question our perspective and to even reevaluate our routines, to look for new ways of doing things, and to understand on a deeper level why we've done the things we've done and maybe what other opportunities might be out there waiting for us.
And finally, if you're someone who wants to cultivate more heart, then I'm going to suggest that you use your experiences and your wisdom not to instruct others or tell other people what to do. Instead, use those experiences to connect with others and to empathize with others. There's a big difference between sharing your story so that other people know what to do, and sharing your story so that other people can see themselves in you and use your message in such a way where they can apply it to their own life. It's a subtle but important distinction. So again, to build more heart, try to use your experiences to connect rather than instruct.
Well, my friend, we have covered a lot in today's podcast episode! We have talked about the qualities needed to be a really powerful coach, and hopefully by digging deep into each one of these five qualities and exploring where they naturally show up in your life, we've helped answer that question: Are you meant to be a coach?
And if the answer is yes, then I have a few suggestions for you. First and foremost, if you have not already subscribed to the Coach with Clarity podcast, be sure to do that. That way you won't miss any future episodes where we go even deeper into the art and business of coaching. Then head over to https://www.coachwithclarity.com where you can get more detail about today's episode, including the show notes, and find some resources that will help you on your coaching journey.
Finally, if you're interested in going even deeper, I would encourage you to check out the Coach with Clarity membership while you're there, or head to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/membership to learn more.
I hope you'll join me next week where we are kicking off a really fantastic series. I'm calling it the Getting Started series, and we are going to cover the basics of everything you need to know to get your coaching practice up and running. Trust me, you won't want to miss it. So meet me back here next week and until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough reminding you to get out there and show the world what it looks like to be a Coach with Clarity.