5 Mistakes Coaches Should Avoid
Fact: No one became a great coach overnight.
It takes years of consistent, intentional practice, studying and learning from mistakes accumulated along the way.
As a professional coach for quite some time now, I have had my own share of mistakes back when I was just a newbie in the industry, all of which have taught me important lessons I now apply religiously in my coaching practice.
But what I realized is that when you’re starting out as a coach (come to think of it, at times, even as a professional one), it’s very important to review and reflect on your practice along the way so that you will be able to identify the things that don’t really help in the process, with full humility and openness. Because at times, we get too excited to help our clients and forget everything else that matters, including mistakes we should avoid.
And if you do recognize any of these mistakes listed here and have been guilty of doing them, the solution isn’t to beat yourself up, but rather to recalibrate and start over again with a clean slate. Be kinder to yourself and give your practice some credit.
At the end of the day, it’s all about progress, not perfection.
Allow me to share with you five common mistakes coaches should avoid, helping you in your own journey toward becoming the great coach you’re meant to be.
1. Making the Session All About You
In a coaching session, the client takes the lead. The client is the star of the show, not you. Don’t mind the fact that you have similar experiences with the client – you don’t have to share it during the session. Nor does it matter if you learned a new coaching technique that you want to showcase immediately – there are other ways (and better times) to practice before doing so. Don’t try to steal the limelight to affirm yourself one way or another. Allow the client to shine by being genuinely interested and curious as you ask powerful questions that allow your clients to get to know and better understand themselves.
2. Using Complicated, Layered Questioning
There is not an award for a coach who dishes out the most questions in the shortest span of time. It should always be about quality over quantity. Again, the simpler the coaching conversation is, the better. Use words that are easily understood, simple sentence constructions, and don’t let your questions pile up in one go. Give the client ample time and space to process by asking a single, highly focused, strategic question at a time. Be clear before clever.
3. Bringing in Judgments
The client knows themself best. So, when in doubt, ask – never assume. Your assumptions frame the conversation, which can block the wonderful passageway toward beautiful breakthroughs. Also, judging yourself and the client in the process won’t allow you to build a genuine relationship along the way. No need to bring in any form of excess baggage in your coaching session. You will only end up shortchanging yourself and your client if you do so.
4. Being Distracted
If you want a coaching session to work out well, both you and your client should be 100% present. Ask curiously. Listen actively. Process accordingly. Don’t rush. Pause if needed. Be in the now. Don’t let the noise, whether internal or external, get the best of you. Always give your best and always be present.
5. Pressuring Yourself Too Much
Relax. Like your client, you must also learn to enjoy the journey. Don’t waste your time and energy by forcing the results you’ve envisioned for yourself and the client. The focus should not be on results alone – it’s about the entire coaching journey. Stop stressing yourself out as you anticipate each and every reply of your client with a question in your bag. Go with the flow and grow with it thereafter
So, there you have it. Can you relate with some of these? Know that it’s OK and you now have a chance to work on these moving forward.
Becoming the professional coach that I am now was an enlightening journey. We can rely on ICF’s Core Competencies and Code of Ethics to guide us in our practice, helping us uphold the highest standards in coaching and keeping us from making the same mistakes again.
In the end, what matters is that we learned and grew from the experience to become our own #bestmeever.