163: The Art of Coaching: Supporting Client Awareness & Growth
Today marks the conclusion of our six-week exploration of what it means to be a transformative, powerful coach and how we can continue building our mastery. From developing your coaching presence to establishing agreements, we've deeply explored some fundamental coaching concepts.
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Today marks the conclusion of our six-week exploration of what it means to be a transformative, powerful coach and how we can continue building our mastery. From developing your coaching presence to establishing agreements, we’ve deeply explored some fundamental coaching concepts.
For this final episode of the series, we will look at how we can support our clients in developing awareness and then taking action that leads to growth. Each of the previous five elements plays a critical part in setting the stage for our clients to have deeper self-awareness, leading to growth.
Intentional growth comes when we make decisions to transform something in our lives based on an epiphany that we've had. I’m talking about what it means to be a powerful coach, why awareness and growth go hand in hand, how we, as coaches, can best support our client’s growth, and more. Enjoy the episode!
- What we’ve covered so far in this Art of Coaching series
- The exponential capacity for transformation that comes with awareness combined with growth
- Reactive versus intentional growth
- How coaches can help clients achieve intentional growth
- Using next-level listening along with powerful questions to help clients gain a deeper awareness
- Guiding clients through making connections using reflection and feedback
- How you can support your clients through the growth process
- The M.A.G.I.C. of Coaching Masterclass
- Coach with Clarity
- Episode 158: The Art of Coaching: Developing Your Coaching Presence
- Episode 159: The Art of Coaching: Next Level Listening
- Episode 160: The Art of Coaching: Embodying a Coaching Mindset
- Episode 161: The Art of Coaching: Creating Trust-Centered Relationships
- Episode 162: The Art of Coaching: Establishing and Maintaining Agreements
- Coach with Clarity Collective
- Connect with Me on Instagram
- Connect with Me on TikTok
- Email Me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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Well, hello, my friend. Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, I am honored to be your host. And today we are concluding our deep dive into The Art of Coaching. That's right. Today marks the conclusion of our six week exploration of what it really means to be a transformative, powerful coach and what we as coaches can do to continue building our mastery.
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So we started way back in episode 158, looking at what it meant to develop our coaching presence. I started with presence specifically because if we are not fully engaged with our client and also with our own inner wisdom, our own inner coach, if you will, if we're not fully present in the moment, we are going to miss things. We are going to feel disconnected from our client, from our own wisdom. And so understanding what a coaching presence is and how to build it is critical for any coach.
From there, we looked at next level listening. So in order to be present with our client and with ourselves, we need to understand how to listen. And this was in episode 159 and we took the traditional model of active listening and expanded it. So certainly we looked at Stephen Covey's five levels of listening and then we took it a step deeper to explore what next level listening looks like. And next level listening is both the listening we extend to our clients and the listening we extend to ourselves, and how we pay attention to our own internal cues, our own intuition, and how to balance that with paying attention to our client as well.
Then in episode 160, we looked at embodying a coaching mindset. We looked at what mindset is and what it's not. And then we explored specifically what a coaching mindset looks like, why it is so important that coaches understand this and actively seek to develop their own coaching mindset. And we took a look at what steps we could take to do that in episode 160.
Then in episode 161, which was our fourth episode in this miniseries, we looked at the importance of creating trust centered relationships. And of course, we focused on the relationships we're creating with our clients. Because if we don't have trust in the coaching relationship, that relationship is going to falter. And we also explored why having trust at the center of any relationship. So relationships with your colleagues, with your referral sources, with your family and friends and partner and kids and spouse, like every single relationship that matters to us must include an element of trust. And we talk about why and how to build trust in relationships in episode 161.
Then last week on episode 162, we looked at the role of agreements in the coaching relationship. We talked about what they were, how agreements differ from expectations. And then we looked at how we can both create or rather co-create agreements with our clients and then what it looks like to maintain those agreements over time. Often setting agreements or boundaries, if you will, can feel a little uncomfortable. And so that's why in last week's episode, episode 162, we really spent time examining how to craft agreements in a way where both coach and client and other stakeholders feel supported. And how you can uphold your boundaries, your limits, so that you're practicing within your scope, you are not being asked to do more than what you've committed to, and you're reinforcing that trust centered relationship we talked about earlier in the series.
So over the last five weeks, we have really taken a deep dive into some fundamental coaching core concepts. And today we're going to wrap things up by looking at how we can support our clients in developing awareness and then taking action that leads to growth. So awareness and growth are the two words we're really going to focus on this week. And all of this is leading up to a fantastic Masterclass that I am hosting on Wednesday, May 17th. So if you are listening to today's episode right when it drops on Monday, May 15th, you still have a couple of days to register for The Magic of Coaching, my free Masterclass, where I'm going to walk you through the five elements every coach needs to have in order to have a thriving, successful and profitable coaching practice. We're going to be looking a little bit at the art of coaching,
so the things that we've talked about over the last several weeks. Of course, I'll also be looking at business practices that can support you in your coaching work, and we'll look at the different ways coaches can continue to build their fluency with the art and business of coaching. So all of this is taking place on Wednesday, May 17th. We are kicking things off at 01:00 p.m Eastern, which is 10:00 a.m Pacific and 06:00 p.m UK time/07:00 p.m Central Europe time. And the best part is that it costs absolutely nothing to attend. It is completely free, it is jampacked with value, and I would love to see you there. So if you have not already registered, do yourself a favor, head to coachwithclarity.com/magicmasterclass. That's all one word “magic masterclass.” Coachwithclarity.com/magicmasterclass and register to attend. If you can't make it live, that is completely okay. There will be a replay, but that replay will only be available to people who register in advance. So if you want to discover the five elements every coach needs to have in order to have a thriving coaching practice, and if you are interested in making a little magic in your coaching practice, you will not want to miss this Masterclass. Just head to coachwithclarity.com/magicmasterclass to register today. And I cannot wait to see you on the 17th. We are going to have so much fun. And of course, there will be time for Q and A. So if you have any burning coaching related questions that you want my take on, you're definitely going to want to register for The Magic of Coaching Masterclass. We are going to have a blast. So head to coachwithclarity.com/magicmasterclass. Sign up today and I will see you on the 17th.
So today we are going to be talking about two critical concepts in the world of coaching, and those are awareness and growth. I really see awareness and growth going hand in hand because while theoretically you can have one without the other, when you have them both together, that's where we see just exponential capacity for transformation. So when I think about awareness, I think about the process of bringing light to something. It may be something new, it may be a new realization for your client. Or perhaps it's reinforcing something they've already discovered, but they're seeing it in a new light. So we are raising their consciousness and developing a shift in their perspective, the way they think or feel about something or the way they view something. Now, I suppose you could argue that just the very act of building your awareness around something, especially around something new, is in itself a form of growth. And I think that's a fair argument to make. Certainly when we are thinking about something or looking at something from a different vantage point, we are expanding our mental capacity. That is growth. And I would argue that true growth happens when we allow our newfound awareness to inform our actions. I am more interested in how those insights can lead to external behavioral change because then that reinforces the internal change we're experiencing as well. I have conducted a number of sessions, both therapy sessions and coaching sessions in my 20 plus years of working with human beings. And oftentimes in those sessions, my clients will have an epiphany. They'll have a huge AHA moment, a realization that just shakes up everything. It completely changes the way they view a given situation or even how they view themselves or their relationships they have with other people. The word mind blowing would not be inappropriate to use here. So they've had this extraordinary internal shift, perhaps internal growth because of this awareness. And then for some clients, that's the end of the road. They don't do anything with that AHA moment. They return to their life as it was before and they continue the same behaviors and actions and activities that they've always done. And I'm not faulting them for that because I think that's our default mode as humans. We like routine, we like structure, we like habits. And so to create a new way of taking action requires a level of intentionality and quite frankly, work that isn't always easy and sometimes it's not even fun. And so I have worked with clients who've had this huge AHA moment, this hit of inspiration, and then life continues on as it was before. So while their awareness may have been raised, I'm not sure they are experiencing the level of growth that is available to them because they've not allowed their awareness to inform their actions. That is where coaching can be such a powerful intervention because as coaches we are experts at helping our clients take those AHA moments and convert them into external action. And that is where growth occurs. Growth happens when we are actively creating that change, trying something new, learning from our new experiences, mining them for data and allowing that data to then refine our actions. That is where true lasting growth occurs.
Now, I do think it's possible to have maybe we'll call it accidental growth or growth by default, the kind of growth that happens because we're doing our thing, living our life and maybe we run up against an obstacle and in order to move through it or around it, we have to change our behaviors. And so that maybe instead of accidental growth, what I mean is reactive growth. We are reacting to something and therefore we are changing how we approach a given situation or circumstance. That feels like a better term. So let's call that reactive growth. We can have reactive growth without awareness. We can change our habits, we can experience a level of growth because we are responding to external stimuli and yet not be fully conscious of the changes we're making. We're not bringing a level of awareness to them. Reactive growth feels very different to me than what I've been thinking about as intentional growth. Intentional growth to me is the growth that happens once we've had that shift in our awareness. So the awareness comes and then the intentional growth comes. We are making decisions to change something, to transform something in our lives based on that epiphany or AHA moment that we've had. And so certainly we can have awareness that doesn't lead to growth. We can have growth that doesn't stem from awareness. That's that reactive growth. But to me, the most powerful kind of growth, that intentional growth is anchored in awareness. So as coaches, when we're working with our clients, I want us to think about that almost like a one two punch. We've got awareness and then growth. So our role then as coaches is to first evoke awareness. And in fact that's one of the core competencies from the International Coaching Federation is the process of evoking awareness in our clients. That's part one. And then part two is to facilitate growth, that's another core competency. And supporting our clients as they take these newfound insights and apply them and then create change which leads to growth. So our role as coaches, we take all of the skills that we've talked about over the last five weeks and they support that awareness to growth process.
So let's start then by exploring how we as coaches can support our clients in building their self awareness. And first and foremost, we're going to go back to what we talked about in the second episode of this miniseries, we're going to go back to next level listening. We want to use those next level listening skills to help our clients better understand their own internal experiences, their thoughts, their feelings, their sensations, their emotions, their memories, all of that. And we also want to help our clients understand their external experiences, their behaviors and how they connect with and relate to other people. So when we use next level listening we are of course paying attention to what the client is saying verbally. We're paying attention to nonverbal cues, we're listening to tone, we're listening to the message beneath the message. And we're also using that intuitive level of listening, that intrapersonal listening, where we're paying attention to our own internal cues, our own responses to what our clients are sharing because our own internal responses can then inform the questions that we ask in order to elicit deeper awareness in order to evoke that awareness in our clients. Oftentimes those AHA moments that our clients experience happen when a client uncovers a previously unseen pattern or habit. So when they are making some connections between what they've always done and how it connects to how they've always felt or how they've always thought when they see those patterns and then they understand how they can break that cycle by making a subtle shift, a subtle change that often leads to an AHA moment. And so we can support the client in making those connections and identifying those patterns in their thinking and in their behavior when we incorporate those next level listening practices, when we are paying attention fully to the client and also to our own internal cues; and then following that up with powerful questions that really get our clients thinking and then noticing those shifts in how they think, how they feel, and how that informs their behavior. So we use the phrase powerful questions or powerful questioning a lot in the coaching profession. And to be honest with you, I had never heard or used the word power or powerful nearly to the extent that I do now as a coach. I worry a little bit that the term powerful is becoming one of those overused buzzwords in the coaching lexicon and yet it is such an appropriate and accurate word. We want to use powerful questions. We want to empower our clients through our questioning. So at risk of using an overused word, I am going to continue to talk about asking powerful questions because this is how we can support our clients in their own internal exploration where they're really taking a close look at their thoughts, their feelings, their emotions, all of those internal experiences and their external behaviors as well. So when we are asking powerful questions, generally speaking they're going to be open ended, so they're not yes/no questions. They are designed to elicit a response from our client that encourages that level of self reflection. We want our clients thinking critically and analytically about themselves and their lives. So we use powerful questioning in order to help our clients gain additional insight into not just their internal experiences, not just the thoughts and feelings and emotions, but also what's beneath them. The values, the beliefs, their desires, what motivates them. When we help our clients get down to the core what it is that really matters to them, what it is they believe, what they are willing to fight for and stand up for, then that often tells us a lot about how and why the clients are thinking and feeling and doing what they are thinking, feeling and doing. So those powerful questions that get to the heart of a client's core belief system, those are the questions then that are likely to elicit that level of awareness and then those AHA moments with our clients.
Of course, in coaching, not every statement has to be a question. Often we may use feedback and reflection to guide our clients towards making a connection as well. So it's not uncommon for me to be in session with a client and they'll talk about one thing and then they'll pivot and talk about another thing and those two things are seemingly unconnected. Yet I view my role as the coach as paying attention to any possible connections that may exist and then reflecting that back to my client. So saying something to the effect of “You know, it's interesting, earlier when you were talking about X, then you pivoted to Y and I'm just wondering in what ways X and Y might be connected to each other?” And then I'll ask the client to elaborate on that. Oftentimes when given the opportunity to make those connections, clients will do that on their own. That's always my preference. Because when a client makes the connection themselves, that's typically what leads to the epiphany and they have a greater sense of ownership over it. If I sense a connection that maybe my client doesn't see, I'll gauge whether or not now is the appropriate time to share it. Often it is. But if I get a sense that I might be leapfrogging my client, that's what happens when we reach a level of awareness before our client has. Sometimes that's a sign to slow things down, to do a little more exploration and to help the client get to a point where maybe they're able to make that connection themselves. Again, that's always my preference, but sometimes, for whatever reasons, we're not able to get there. And so then at that point I may be a little more explicit and say “It's so interesting you were talking about X and Y and I can't help but notice that they're connected through Z.” And then I might introduce the concept of whatever Z is for my clients to reflect on. And of course, for some of them that's going to hold meaning and it's going to lead to their awareness and further exploration. And for some clients, it may not. And maybe that's a sign that this is something that holds meaning for me, but it may not hold meaning for my client. Okay, duly noted. Let's get back into it. So in addition to asking questions, we can also use the process of reflection and reflective statements to help our clients gain a better understanding of how their thoughts and behaviors and internal experiences influence their behaviors and what adjustments they might need to make in order to reach their goals. So we've talked about next level listening. We've talked about asking powerful questions. We've looked at the role of reflection and even feedback. All of these things can play a part in helping our clients develop a higher level of self awareness. And that level of self awareness starts when the coach and client have reached agreements about how they're going to engage with each other. It is reliant on having a relationship that is anchored in trust and mutual respect. And so hopefully you're seeing why we've explored all of these other issues within this Art of Coaching miniseries because they all play a part and they all set the stage for our clients to have that deeper level of self awareness which then leads to their growth.
So this is a perfect time to segue into how we as coaches can support our clients and guide them through the growth process. And I'm approaching this as the process of externalizing the internal. So we have these internal awarenesses and epiphanies, now let's make them manifest in the real world. So how can we do that? How can we, as coaches, help our clients externalize these insights so that they can achieve their goals? Well and there's the first thing right there. We first need to know what the goals are and as a coach, we can work with our clients to help them set goals that mean something to them. Goals that are connected to their values, their beliefs and their desires. We want to help our clients not just come up with that big picture goal, that big vision, but we can also help them break it down into smaller, more achievable steps. So once a client has had that awareness, they know they want to create a change. They've set a goal around that change. We can then partner with our clients to create an action plan that includes those smaller, more achievable steps and that over time, those steps will guide the client towards their larger goal. We also want to pay close attention to what will support our clients level of motivation as they are working towards those smaller steps in service to their larger goal. It's not uncommon for a client to be really excited when they're first starting out a new program or something that's going to create change. It's kind of the honeymoon period, but then we get into it and then it's the continued work. It's lost its luster a little bit, the clients wondering, “Is this really worth it?” And we as the coach, we hold that broader outside perspective. We can see where the client is heading, we know they're on the right path. And so then our job may be to step in and support them, even celebrating the successes they've had along the way, in order for our client to continue to feel motivated. So certainly we don't want to save our celebrations for the very end. We want to celebrate when our clients hit that goal, absolutely. But we also want to find ways to encourage them and celebrate them throughout the process so that our clients stay on track, they stay motivated, so they get closer and closer to achieving their goal every day. So we can work with our clients to set goals, we want to celebrate their success along the way. And ideally, all of this is anchored in a strong plan, an action plan that includes those small steps that support that larger goal. So that plan may include timelines, it may include milestones, it likely includes accountability measures to help our clients stay on track and stay motivated as well. And accountability is a really important concept in coaching. It's one that as we are creating our agreements with our clients, we want to explore that with them. So understanding what types of accountability support our clients. Some clients are going to be strictly internally motivated and they can hold themselves accountable. Once they've committed to doing something, they're going to do it. But a lot of clients and a lot of coaches, myself included, really do well when there's some level of external accountability. So you and your client will want to talk about what accountability measures work best for them and also what role you as the coach may play in your client's accountability process. I have no problem being a check in person for my client. I can be an accountability person for them. But the way I generally structure it is that they will initiate that contact. So it's not me running after my clients, constantly checking in on them. Sometimes that can almost feel like babysitting. And that's not good energy for the coaching relationship. The clients may start to resent it, the coach may start to resent it. So generally speaking, I recommend that if the coach is part of the client's accountability plan, measures are set up so that it is the client who is initiating the contact with the coach. So maybe you have something set where every Friday your client completes a form or checks in with you on Voxer or does something to update you on their progress. So you are that accountability person for them, but you're not chasing them down every Friday. They know it's their responsibility to reach out to you. That's something that I find works really well in a coaching relationship. It empowers the client to take responsibility for their action, but it also reminds them that the coach is there every step of the way to support them, and it also helps them stay motivated. If I know that I have to check in with my coach every Friday, you better believe I'm going to get my work done so that when I'm reporting to my coach on Friday, I can talk about all the things that I've done, all the things that are working well. And I can seek support in the areas where I need additional help, guidance, or feedback. And those areas may be a wonderful opportunity for the coach to provide some support around developing whatever skills the client needs to hit their goals. So a lot of times I get questions from coaches around, “Well, when is it okay for me to share my thoughts or ideas with my clients? When can I provide some instruction?” This is an ideal time to do so. So when a client has come to you and said, “I'm working on this, it's going really well, except I've got questions about this,” if that's an area where you have a level of knowledge or expertise, absolutely show up for your client and support them. Just make sure you always offer your client the opportunity to refine or modify the feedback or suggestions you've given so that they still feel like their process is their own. And of course, as they are working through this, they may come up against some obstacles, some challenges, some of them may be external. A lot of times it's going to be internal. It's their own thought process or cognitions that are getting in the way. And so we can support our clients in identifying what those challenges are and then how to create a path through or around them. So maybe we're looking at addressing their limiting beliefs. Maybe we're helping our clients develop new strategies. All of this is certainly going to help our clients build their own resilience when they come up against challenges or setbacks. So you can see there are so many things that we as coaches can do to support our clients in their growth. It starts with creating a strong plan, setting goals, having some accountability measures in there, supporting our clients in building their skills around a given topic, navigating any obstacles or changes that come up, and of course, celebrating our client's success along the way. There are few feelings better than witnessing your client have a success. Ideally, that success is connected to the original goal and action plan. But sometimes we have to modify things as we go along and our clients create new success metrics and they create new goals. And that can be really exciting as well. But to celebrate and support our clients in that process is one of the greatest honors we have as coaches. And it's something I look forward to. It's why I love celebrating each and every step that my clients take on their journey. And as a fellow heart centered, intuitive coach. I'm sure you know that feeling well. And that's why when we are engaging with our clients to support them in building their awareness, we want to make sure we don't stop there. We want to take that awareness and lead it into intentional growth so that we can support our clients in working towards their vision, in building out their dreams and achieving success.
Well, my friend, I think that brings us to the end and not just the end of today's episode, but the end of our six week exploration of The Art of Coaching. I want to thank you for being present with me today and for the whole series. If you missed any of the episodes, no worries. All you have to do is go to the Coach with Clarity feed, wherever you listen to your podcasts, you'll find those previous episodes so you can listen to them anytime you like and they are the perfect preview of what we are going to be exploring during that free Masterclass on Wednesday, May 17th, all about The Magic of Coaching. So don't forget to head to coachwithclarity.com/magicMasterclass to register for that free training. I can't wait to see you there.
I also hope you'll join me next week for another episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. I am so excited to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Mary Williams of Sensible Woo. We are going to be talking all about how we can combine systems and strategies, strategy with intuition. It's going to be a fantastic conversation. You won't want to miss it. So make sure you are following or subscribed to the Coach with Clarity podcast, which you can do for free wherever you listen to your shows. So until next week, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.