Category: Coaching

How to create the best climate for your coaching clients

By , April 11, 2012 4:50 pm

“I care about you. I care about your future. I care about your growth. I’m here to create a climate in which you will blossom and flourish.”

~ Marshall Goldsmith and Laurence Lyons, Authors.


James, one of my clients, is a manager in corporate. One of his many roles is to coach his staff.

Two weeks ago he asked me how to create a coaching environment over the phone. He has recently acquired a virtual team that presented him with communication and time zone challenges. He was worried that he’d not be able to coach his staff effectively.

Here’s what we discussed…

Helping others is a natural human motive and is stronger in some people than others and it’s especially important if you are a coach.

The quality of the conversation is EVERYTHING…

I believe that all coaches are motivated by their ‘desire’ to help others. The above quote summarises this perfectly for me (it’s also an awesome intention to set before any coaching session!). A great coach will authentically communicate this all the time.

(By the way, if you don’t buy into the quotation – You shouldn’t be coaching!)

It’s important to create the right climate and hold coaching space for every person you coach.

What do I mean by this?

Have you ever tried to impose your wisdom onto someone else?!

No matter how hard you try, you can’t change someone else – The other person has got to be open to the conversation and WANT to change.

Sometimes the mention of the word coaching is enough to make someone resist a conversation, especially in the corporate world, where coaching is imposed because it’s part of the manager’s job. This could be for many reasons:

  • It feels like it’s something that is imposed and done to you
  • There’s a low level of respect for the coach
  • The person is resistance to change
  • They have a low motivation to learn
  • There’s a lack of understanding
  • The timing is wrong

Some coaches fail because they jump straight into the coaching and try to drive through their own agenda. This creates lip service and resistance to coaching.

Here’s how to create and hold a safe coaching space:

Before any coaching session:

1. Consider your motives – What is the purpose of the session? What are you intending as an outcome? What do you want your client to do, be or have as a result of your time together? Get clear before you begin.

2. Who’s leading? – Who is driving the conversation? Is the session coach led or client led? Or a combination of the two? If you are the client’s manager, this might influence your approach.

 3. Set the scene – It’s good to have a framework for the conversation. Signposting the way helps put your client at ease because they understand what is going to happen to them during your time together. If the conversation is client led, let them set the scene. What do they want to do, be or have as a result of the conversation?

4. The Environment - Choose a neutral environment, private and away from any distractions – other people, phones and computers.


During the session…

1. Build rapport – Be yourself! Create a natural conversation where the other person can feel comfortable and safe to speak. Set a relaxed and focused tone. Lead the way here. This will naturally guide you to the purpose of the session rather than jumping right in, “so what do you want?”

2. Lose your ego – Strive for authenticity instead popularity! You might be their boss, but you are both human beings and have the same level of value, worth and dignity. The client needs to feel comfortable and that they can speak freely. If you exert your authority as a manager, (or as the coach) then you’ll create an environment of compliance rather than engagement. Create a sense of leadership in the way that you navigate through the session without being controlling.

3. Be 100% Present – Make your client feel like they are the most important person in the room. Let go of your To Do List, emails and your outstanding challenges. This session is 100% about them. So be 110% present for them.

4. Be ‘genuinely interested’ in the growth and success of the person you are coaching. If you’re a manager and you’re coaching one of your team, you also have vested interest in their success – After all, they help you to achieve your goals!

5. Know the balance of when to help and how much to help is also important in the relationship. If the coach doesn’t act in a way that reflects a genuine interest in being helpful then coaching will be unsuccessful.


How to recognise when you’re having a coaching conversation

By , April 4, 2012 4:27 pm

“Coaching is a conversation, or series of conversations, that one person has with another. The person who is the coach intends to produce a conversation that will benefit the other person (the coachee) in a way that relates to the coachee’s learning and progress.”

Julie Starr, Author The Coaching Manual


It’s impossible for us to learn everything on our own. We sometimes need help and support. It’s great to have a conversation with someone who can be a sounding board or who provokes deeper thinking on a topic or issue that you might be struggling with.

Coaching can be an informal five minute conversation at the water cooler or a formal development session lasting an hour or more. It’s all about helping someone move forward, make some changes and progress towards their goals.

We unconsciously coach people more than we realise. We just don’t label a conversation as coaching. Sometimes it just happens naturally… I’ve coached people in the most unlikely places, at airports, on planes, while having a pedicure, at parties even during a hike!

As an accredited trainer of coaches, I’m often asked: what is the difference between coaching, mentoring and training? New coaches often get hung up on the ‘label’ coaching and worry that they’re not doing it right! Will the Coaching Police track them down if they stray into mentoring or training?!

The term coaching means different things to different people (Trust me here okay?! I spent months at University researching the definition of coaching and there isn’t a definitive answer!).

The reality is that as a coach, you may use mentoring, training and consulting as part of your approach. You are the facilitator of an engaging conversation that creates space for the other person to come up with creative solutions that they hadn’t thought of before. In other words you are helping them to build their own creative fires within.

 Let go of the label and focus on the quality of the conversation!

 The word coaching is often used as a generic term to label the relationship between the two people involved in a learning partnership. It’s rare that anyone uses coaching in its purest form 100% of the time. What’s important is that you are creating a learning conversation that helps the other person to grow or make change.

The only person who determines whether the conversation was actually a coaching one is the person on the receiving end of it!

 Here are ways five ways to recognise when you are having a coaching conversation:

1. The focus is on the other person – It’s ALL about the other person’s current situation or experience.  It’s not about you, your ideas, the story of when this happened to you or your solutions!

2. You are listening more than talking – You are listening, questioning and observing the conversation.  You are 100% present and your focus and attention in on the other person and what they are saying. You are fully tuned into them and what they have to say.

3. You’re helping them describe their current reality – Through your questioning you are helping them explore and describe their reality of a situation. You are facilitating the conversation so they can understand what is going on, recognise any challenges and then begin to generate options to move forward.

4. They are asking you for answers or advice – The other person is looking to you for help. They don’t know what to do. Most people jump in with their advice and tell them what to do. They miss the opportunity to coach!  Create space and encourage them to think it through for themselves, with a few questions from yourself.

5. Your expanding their view of the situation – You encourage others to work it out for themselves through your conversation and discussion. You are helping the other person expand their thinking or view something from a different perspective. You might be holding up a mirror to reflect their own view back to them.

If you’re learning to be a coach these are good reminders of how to show up for your client. It’s so easy to give advice and offer solutions instead of allowing the other person to work it out for themselves with your support. If you’re thinking of working with a coach, these are great characteristics to look out for!

Happy coaching!



Not making any progress with your goals? Try these six steps…

By , March 21, 2012 9:10 pm

“My life is one long obstacle course, with me being chief obstacle.”

Jack Paar.

I’ve come to realise that learning and success is NOT about doing more.

And often, the one key thing that gets in my way… is me!

Growing is about taking action towards your goal and completing things.

I started working with a new client this week (Jenny). She began our session by describing how disappointed she was with the progress of her year so far. She blamed constant interruptions for her lack of productivity (on reflection, she realized that none of these were necessities, just bad habits, a lack of boundaries and not being selective – we’re now working on these together).

Jenny’s great plans for the year had all fallen away since January. She’d not made any meaningful progress and was back telling the same story she’d been telling everyone last year: how unfair everything was and feeling sorry for herself that she had no time to make anything happen.

Then she started ‘should-ing…’ Her conversation was peppered with “I know I should be more…”

It’s difficult to be fully present and focused on what’s important when you have many demands on your attention. You become distracted by the noise of interruptions and it’s hard to get BACK ON TRACK.

These distractions can become valid excuses (an alibi) for not achieving your goal. Over time your goal remains an idea as things begin to fall away.

Jenny was exerting a lot of effort and energy to maintain her alibi and at the same time she was creating self-imposed disappointment and grief. Her alibi had become more attractive than taking what was perceived to be a more difficult path towards achieving her goals. She put extra demands upon herself and baled out with excuses instead of taking action.

Most of us are undisciplined in our approach and it’s easy to become distracted and unfocused. When we’re under pressure we move out of our left-brain – logical thinking, into the right brain - emotive thinking and it’s difficult to be rational from this place.

Here’s how to make meaningful progress and get BACK ON TRACK:

1. Re-align to your goal - Get clear on WHAT you want to achieve and WHY you want to do it. Write down your intention and keep this in a place where you can see it regularly.

2. Stop avoiding – Decide that you’ll no longer use excuses to keep you from your goal. Look out for convenient excuses that have taken you off track in the past. Do something that you’ve been avoiding today! Write down your excuses and turn them around with an action step instead, then go make it happen.

3. Not interested in the easy way out – Let your sub-conscious know that you’re no longer taking the path of convenience. Be your own cheerleader and congratulate yourself for having the courage and determination to move into feeling uncomfortable. Be open to making difficult choices rather than the usual easier ones. This is how you’ll create success.

4. Create a process - Write down what needs to be done. Create a system or process for things to happen – one step at a time. The only way you’ll be successful is to have a plan and follow the plan. What is the next step? Have discipline to follow the steps one at a time, as this will create momentum.

5. Take conscious action – Take small action steps consistently and make it a habit. Consciously check in weekly with your progress and schedule dates and times in your planner to keep things moving – little and often.

6. Get some support – Shifting habits and creating new ways of working requires discipline and persistence if you’re determined to achieve your goals. In other words – You have to do the work! Hiring a coach is a great way to invest in your success. A good coach provides a high level of support and guidance to help you get BACK ON TRACK as you get clear, claim your power, take action and create new outcomes in your life and work.

NOW is the time to get Back on Track, re-align with your dreams, get strategic, and start to make things happen!

What’s your next step?

How are you progressing your goals this year? Is it time to get Back on Track?

By , March 21, 2012 9:25 am

“Eliminate the time between the idea and the act, and your dreams will become realities.”

~ Dr Edward L Kramer, inventor of ‘Synchromatics’


This morning I went to the gym and nobody was there, all the crowds that were once there are gone. I guess the New Year novelty has worn off! People are back to their usual.

Are you going to let this happen for you?

This is one of the most depressing things for me as a coach, as I see people have these visions and dreams, then they all fall away.

When you’re a leader, you’re a leader of your own life and part of that is to recognize when things are starting to slip into the cracks, when you’re going back to your old habits because you know, elaine, we all go back to our old habits.  I go back into my old patterns of finding a million other things to do rather than what I said I was going to do! You might go into the drama!

Once back in our old habits we stay stuck and our dreams are relegated to our wish list.

So I want to offer you a coaching opportunity to help you get Back on Track, so you can re-align with your dreams, get strategic, and start to make things happen.

I’m offering a limited number of spaces in my Back on Track special. It’s an opportunity for you to work with me as your coach for 8 weeks (plus a few extra goodies!).

CLICK HERE to get the details and join me for some weekly support as you start to make some awesome changes in your life. Also the first five people who sign up will get an extra month’s coaching for FREE.

This Special offer ends Saturday (March 31) at midnight GMT!

Have a Brilliant Spring!

Why Interrupting Someone Could Be Ruining the Quality of Their Thinking

By , February 2, 2012 12:18 pm

“The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.”

Nancy Kline – Author.

Many years ago I used to have a boss who liked the sound of her own voice so much that she wouldn’t let you speak. If you did get a chance to talk, she would talk over you and finish your sentences.

She used to equate talking with being the manager. She was a poor listener jumping in too soon with her own ideas. It was suffocating to be on the receiving end because she’d never give you any time to think. She was too eager to give advice.

My attention was splattered every time I was interrupted. I’d avoid speaking with her unless it was really necessary because I always felt drained by the experience.

We are all guilty of tailgating someone else’s conversation. In some way interrupting seems irresistible. For a few of us, interrupting has become a habit – it’s hard not to do it.

This was true for one of my coaching clients who realized that when he finished people’s sentences he was making these assumptions:

  • I’m the boss so I’m more important
  • I knew what they were going to say
  • The other person was over-talking so it was the only way to get my idea across
  • I was saving time
  • My solution was better than theirs
  • If I didn’t say my idea in the moment I would forget it

When you finish someone’s sentence for them, you’re usually making one or more of these assumptions:

  1. That they can’t finish it for themselves
  2. That you know the exact words they are about to use.
  3. That your choice of words will be better!

You may recognize some of these…

How often have you finished someone’s sentence and got it wrong? You may have chosen the wrong word or totally changed the ending of the sentence and said the opposite to what they were about to say!

We’re often too focused on our own self-importance to notice how our interruption affects the other person.

Their internal experience changes the moment you started thinking for them rather than allowing them to think for themselves. Their attention is lost because your interruption cuts them off from their own understanding of what they were saying.

The important thing is that they were saying it.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to listen with respectful attention and without assumption.

As a coach and people manager, I have come to realize that listening with attention is hugely important because the quality of my attention impacts the effectiveness of the other person’s thinking.

Allowing someone space to search for their words adds quality to their thinking. You’re allowing people to think for themselves rather than imposing your own thinking upon them.

Most people have ideas that matter whatever their status or position. Don’t judge them with your assumptions. By ‘getting out of their way’ you are creating a space for their thoughts to be fully developed. This opens up new possibilities that could make a difference.

Next time you feel the urge to interrupt or finish someone’s sentence:

  1. Notice that you’re about to interrupt them.
  2. Shut up!
  3. Step back and allow them some space to search for the words themselves.
  4. Stop trying to think for them.
  5. Allow them to play in their own dog park! I LOVE this metaphor: It’s safe environment where they know you won’t keep interrupting them. Where their mind can be allowed to roam around freely to imagine, create and explore things without being on a leash! In other words: without being manipulated by your assumptions!

LiveBrilliant Platinum Coaching Mastermind – 2012

By , December 22, 2011 7:43 pm

Stop Resisting!

By , June 11, 2011 3:08 pm

“Just trust that everything is unfolding the way it is supposed to. Don’t resist. Surrender to what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”

Sonia Ricotti – Author.

“I’ve got so much work to do I can’t see the end of it. I’m always going to be working late. I’ll never have any time for me or my relationships. I’m in a big black hole. My life really sucks!”

George, a coaching client.

Do you ever feel like things are not turning out the way they’re supposed to?

Sometimes we set off in the direction of our goal, we try something and it doesn’t work out the way we intended it.

You may not get the result you thought you wanted: 1st prize in the competition.  Your VISA card is up to it’s limit. You didn’t find the man of your dreams on or only two people signed up for your workshop.

Whatever the situation, it’s easy to become reactive and resistant. You get locked into negative thoughts such as: ‘I’m just not cut out for this…’ or ‘I knew I wouldn’t win anyway!’ or ‘It shouldn’t be this way…’

It’s easy to become the victim. Complaining, resisting, getting upset or judging just prolongs the pain of the situation and it doesn’t help you to change anything. Instead you’ll continue to resist the reality of it.

Resisting takes a lot of energy and effort to maintain (I know this personally!).

The important thing here is to keep moving in the direction of your goal, no matter what the Universe presents to you! Your intended result may not always happen and this is perfectly okay. Rather than cling onto the pain or discomfort, let it go so that you can move onto something better.

You can’t fail to learn…

When one door closes, I always find that another door opens and it’s usually to a bigger and better place.

Here are some ways to move forward:

1. Stop resisting what is – Stop resisting what’s going on in your life just now, and choose to accept the current situation and the facts. E.g. I didn’t win 1st Prize. I currently have a heavy workload. Just accepting the situation can release the pressure and make you feel better. Don’t associate any meaning or emotions to it (This is not about giving up by the way!). This is all about accepting what is.

2. Get Clear on what you want – Re-align to your goal. Get clear and re-decide on what you really want. Remember WHY it is important to you and re-commit your attention and energy.

3. The Source of your power is YOU – Take responsibility for the current situation – It’s okay. Learn to listen and pay attention to your instincts – don’t ignore them. (You know – That little intuitive voice deep inside but you often ignore?!) You already have the solution inside of you. It is drowned out by all the resistance and noise. Choose to step into your power and listen to your inner wisdom. Create a plan to follow.

4. Take Action – Choose one small thing and do it. Start with the first logical step, then take another one, then another. Lean in and create some momentum every day.

5. Get support – You can’t do everything alone. Sometimes it helps to have a sounding board, someone who isn’t close to the situation who can offer support. A coach can support you in many ways. Asking for help is perfectly okay and sometimes can be very important.

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