How many of you are in the room during your individual client coaching sessions? It seems like an unnecessary question, why? 2 of course: my client and me. I would challenge you to ensure that is stays that way, as I challenge myself and question when is my ego appearing and how can I suppress it.
I have recently had a few conversations with people about their experience with their own coaches and have been uncomfortable with what I have heard…
My friend recently came out of their session and said to me “it must be wonderful to be a coach and see the transformation”. I wondered what had elicited this and she went on to say her coach had said “hers was a text book breakthrough”. This is a strange comment and I am not sure who it serves. My friend was very happy with her coaching experience and I am sure theirs is a very good coach. As an onlooker, however, I can’t help but feel that the coach’s ego has slipped into the room, as in this comment they are both imposing the idea that transformation has occurred and that it follows a “text book” approach. For my friend this was fine, but for people less independent I am concerned that this could create a dependence, whereby the coaching client feel they have achieved the transformation because of the coach rather than their own resources.
So, as I was interested in my reaction, I mentioned this to a coach I respect, their face said it all and confirmed my concern that a coaching engagement should be classified as “text book”. My story reminded them of their own coaching experience with a coach whose ego had joined them in the room. On this occasion the coach ignored the wishes of the client to reflect on a new topic and made them go back to the aspects of the previous session. As they felt that my friend, a very experienced coach, had unfinished business. My friend on the other had wanted to explore a new topic. Their coach wouldn’t allow this and so pushed their agenda and forced my friend to go over, what felt for them, like old ground. At the end of the session the coach exclaimed that they thought that was a good session and that a real breakthrough had been achieved… my friend however, did not! They voted with their feet, never to return to that coach again. This is not only not good for the client, who really wanted to move along their new agenda item but not good for the coach’s business!
I reflect then: What gives when a coach sets the agenda against the wishes of their client or a coach hijacks someone’s progress? I can’t think of a good reason or example for the coach’s ego to be in the room and I remind myself of this when I reflect on how well or otherwise a session is going or went. It’s not about me, I am there to enable the situation not to bathe in the outcome or otherwise… It is essential that the coach let the client set the agenda, and support them as they achieve their goals but do not hijack their success. Also, even if there is unfinished business, the client must be allowed to set the agenda for what they want to achieve.
Allow the third person in the room at your peril!