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Coaching Accountability Isn't What You Think It is

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching accountability with a bullhorn cropped

Managing Progress and Accountability is an ICF Core Coaching Competency that is frequently missed when coaches apply for certification, according to ICF certifiers.

I could be wrong, but I think the name, itself, confuses coaches. It sounds like the coach literally manages the client and holds them accountable to achieve their goals the way an employer might, but that's not what helps clients progress, and it's really not what ICF certifiers are looking for.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

It's time somebody told you the secret of motivation and it has nothing to do with holding your clients accountable...

Here's why: Have you ever caught yourself being stubborn with someone (your friend, sibling, spouse, perhaps) about something you really wanted to do but you were only willing to do it your way or not at all? Or has someone ever told you that you need to change something about yourself, and even if you agreed with them, you didn't do it? Or do you ever ask for advice and then don't follow it?

If yes to any of these, you're normal. People naturally resist doing what others tell them to do and unless that other has something important to hang over their head, like their job, they often won't do it even if they want to.

 

We all get a little negative in these situations and that negativity has power over us that most people underestimate.

 

Here's an example: An SCM graduate just posted a meme on Facebook that said she never shares memes that say, "I bet I won't get even one share," even if she otherwise likes the meme. I don't share them, either. In fact, I did an impromptu poll once on my Facebook feed to see if others shared them. Nobody did. They're annoying.

Subtle levels of negativity, defensiveness, resistance, anxiety, or irritation of any type trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response unconsciously, which in turn delivers a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can stay in the blood stream for quite a while and hold the client back from taking action. Essentially, they freeze.

 

So if a coach presumes to manage a client in any way, especially by checking up on them, or requiring the client to check in with the coach, or in any way holding them accountable, there's a good chance that will backfire. Don't do it.

 

What does work? A recent article by researcher, Richard Boyatzis and colleagues, at TrainingIndustry.com, offered five possibilities that have been found to help people change. Boyatzis is well-known for his research and teachings on coaching, emotional intelligence, and leadership. His change theory of positive emotional attractors (PEAs) v negative emotional attractors (NEAs), which roughly translate to positivity v negativity in positive psychology terms, helps explain why some approaches to change don't work while others do.

 

In a nutshell, change is stressful and that releases stress hormones that trigger the fight, flight or freeze response.

 

Something or someone needs to continually bring the client back to positivity so negativity doesn't prevent them from proceeding. That someone is often the coach.

 

Forcing or requiring people to do things increase stress so pushy coaches often fail.

 

Goals, alone, aren't motivating unless they are aligned with what matters most to the client, such as their personal values, vision, mission, calling, dream, passion, or life purpose. Any goals, especially challenging goals, that aren't aligned with the client's bigger picture, are unlikely to provide sufficient positivity to carry the client forward.

 

Growth and Transformation aren't just a byproduct of great coaching. They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. So, we need to help link their goals to what really inspires in order for them to succeed.

 

To learn more about the science of coaching and prepare yourself to become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, join the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches and attend our series on the nine NEW  Positive Psychology Coaching Skills, from Optimum Positivity, to Goals & Achievement, and Growth & Transformation.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Science of Coaching, personal values, IAPPC

Making the Case for Positivity in Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

positivity in coaching

Positivity is so accepted in coaching that most coaches don't even think about it. But what would they discover if they did?

I'm asking because, after observing thousands of coaching sessions, I'm convinced many coaches aren't using positivity as effectively as they might. We've known positivity, which is often defined as positive affect or positive emotions, has a powerful effect on us, both in the moment and later on. It doesn't just feel good, it's correlated with greater emotional and physical health, more success, better relationships, and even longer life.

Plus, according to recent research, positivity is a powerful tool, by itself, for getting results in coaching and it can enhance other powerful coaching tools for even more effective results.*

There are several theories often cited that help make the case for positivity in coaching.

Barbara Fredrickson's "Broaden and Build" theory of positivity, or positive affect, which dates back over twenty years, is often cited as a pathway to flexible thinking, noticing possibilities, more creative thinking, action planning, building resources, and goal striving, all of which can positively influence coaching session outcomes.

Marciel Losada's research on working teams found that team conversations that were significantly more positive, which was defined as focusing on others vs focusing on oneself, asking questions vs defending points of view, and making positive vs negative statements, enjoyed significantly more success than those that did not, which suggests these approaches may support improved outcomes in coaching.

John Gottman's research on what makes successful marriages work, identifies specific responses from one partner to another when the second partner shares something positive, as a key to promoting strong relationships. Gottman sometimes calls this "turning toward" vs "turning away" and says this can be even more powerful in building strong relationships than showing empathy and compassion in times of trouble.

Four categories have emerged to describe levels of turning toward and only one, which is called, Active and Constructive Responding, helps build relationships. Coaching tends to be less effective when the relationship between coach and client is weak and although I have never heard a competent coach engage in the most destructive type of response, Active and Destructive Responding, which a coach might express in a coaching conversation as something like, "You'll never be able to do that because you aren't smart enough," I have heard even "good" coaches sink to the level of Passive and Destructive Responding and Passive and Constructive Responding, which despite its name, doesn't help improve relationships.

Mastering Active and Constructive Responding, without letting it get in the way of other important coaching tools, is a key to masterful coaching because it raises positivity and strengthens the relationship.

But is positivity enough by itself to improve coaching?

According to a recent article by coaching psychology researchers, Anthony Grant and Sean O'Connor, using questions designed to raise positive affect or positivity (an example of such a question might be, "What's  something great that happened this week?') improves coaching outcomes, by itself, but when combined with another important coaching tool, solution-focused questions, outcomes are even more improved.

Previous coaching psychology research has shown that problem-focused questions are less effective in coaching than solution-focused questions. To simplify, problem-focused questions are referred to as "Why" questions, such as, "Why do you have this problem?" They have been found to lower negative affect and raise confidence in the client's ability to solve (self-efficacy). While solution-focused questions, referred to as, "How?" questions, or, "How could you solve this?" have been shown to lower negative affect, raise self-efficacy, and raise positive affect, as well.

But research that studied three types of coaching questions, problem-focused, solution-focused, and positivity-focused, found that combining solution-focused questions with positivity-focused questions had the most positive outcomes, of all, suggesting this powerful combo may need to be adopted by coaches who want to be most effective.

Interestingly, the ICF Core Coaching Competencies don't mention positive-focused questions or positivity even in some of their most detailed descriptions, such as their Core Competencies Comparison Table.

That's not to suggest the ICF discourages positivity and positive-focused questions. The outcomes of positivity that one might expect in effective coaching are described, but the tools of positivity are not. The Competencies are among the most influential coaching technologies. What if the ICF encouraged these tools that have been found so effective?

[UPDATE, 10-10-2019: The ICF just announced to owners of ICF-accredited programs, such as the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, a new coaching competency model which they want to keep confidential until they announce it to their entire membership. There some mention of positivity tools now but limited.]

That's why the new International Association of Positive Psychology Coaching (IAPPC) is developing its own coaching technology and positivity, which we define broadly as including positive affect, positive-focused questions, positive conversations, turning toward and more, as important tools in effective coaching, making it  critical to great coaching.

In fact, "Optimum Positivity" is our first coaching skill.

The word, "optimum" is important because maximum positivity can damage. We're placing optimum positivity as a top-line coaching skill set which can enhance almost every other coaching skill.

I'll be introducing the Positive Psychology Coaching Skills in next month's meeting of the IAPPC and will highlight fascinating research, coaching "how-tos", and examples on leading with positivity during our 75-minute interactive webinar.

 

If you are already a member, watch for your invitation to this important meeting that may instantly upgrade your coaching.

 

If you aren't already a member, join while it is still free, below:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

* Shout out and thanks to the Institute of Coaching for sharing this research with its members.

Topics: ICF, coaching questions, Barbara L Fredrickson, coaching skills, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaches, positivity, IAPPC

We're Building a New Home for Positive Psychology Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAPPC logo 1 8-18

A small community of positive psychology coaches has recently incorporated as the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

The original community was launched by David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me in 2016. We began meetings by identifying who were are by exploring our shared strengths, values, and needs. It soon became clear that we are an organization of peers who are passionate about learning and mastering the new field of positive psychology coaching and sharing what we learn to help create a better world for all.

At this point, we have over 400 members and haven't even launched our website, yet!

[UPDATE 8-27-19: We officially have over1000 members now and are 4 months ahead of schedule. Thanks so much for your support!]

We're not here to compete with other coaching and positive psychology organizations, but to fill the gaps that other organizations haven't met.

How can you learn more about the new IAPPC and get a limited-time free membership?

  • Attend the exciting upcoming meeting. This is where stuff really happens. Learn what's coming from IAPPC and share your thoughts on what will help you most. You need to be a member to get an invitation.
  • Join IAPPC now and enjoy free benefits for Founding Members. It won't all be free forever, but we intend to delight you so much that continuing membership will be a no-brainer. Join now and get your Founding Member badge.
  • Join us on Facebook here. Discover other members and share exciting news.
  • Invite your friends to join us. The more members, the more benefits we can provide for less cost. We'd love to attract 1,000 members by 2020! Use the social sharing buttons at the top of this post to share with others. Thanks so much!

What's the relationship between SCM and IAPPC?

Previous coaching organizations, such as the ICF and IAC, were launched by the owners of coaching schools. That makes sense because we have mailing lists of coaches, connections and know-how, and infrastructure that can support a fledgling organization until it's ready to fly. SCM has been there for this organization through its infancy and will continue to support it as it matures.

That said, IAPPC is for all positive psychology coaches, regardless where you trained. You can get involved now and you can qualify to apply for IAPPC's upcoming certifications when they are available. Our goal is to launch the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches as a fully independent not-for-profit professional association with its own certification. Please join us!

 

Join now while it's still free and get your Founding Member badge:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, IAPPC

Dos and Don't for Better Coaching Outcomes

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do's and Don't for Coaching

The Institute of Coaching (IOC) is a great resource for research on coaching and related topics.

Recently the IOC featured a literature review on research into negative side effects of coaching by Carsten C. Schermuly and Carolin Grassmann. It's an important topic that needs attention. The conclusions of the authors was that coaches need to discuss potential negative side effects with their clients, may need supervision (coaching for their coaching) in order to mitigate negative effects while coaching, and that coaching education needs to train coaches in how to prevent negative effects.

I found many of the effects, themselves, to be dismaying examples of what can go wrong if a coach is not thoroughly trained to prevent problems, so this post will address issues from that perspective.

What are negative effects of coaching? They "...are defined as harmful of unwanted results for clients directly caused by coaching..." Negative effects can also impact the coach and these effects were telling.

I suspect many of the negative effects for clients were related to the negative effects for coaches and if the coaches had prepared, trained, and set up the coaching relationships proactively, there would have been far fewer negative effects for either.

Negative effects on coaches and Dos and Don'ts to prevent them:

  1. Unable to observe the long-term influences of coaching - Do set this up at the start of the client engagement by finding out both the goals for the coaching and how the client will measure them. Likewise, set up each coaching session with its own goals and measurements. Don't coach without this level of clarity.

  2. Being personally affected by the topics discussed during coaching - Do work on your own personal development continuously, including hiring your own coach. Learning to maintain appropriate compassion without getting caught by the client's dramas is a critical coaching skill that takes practice, self-care, and better-then-average resilience. Don't continue coaching someone if their issues personally effect you.

  3. Fear that s/he would not be able to fulfill the coach role - Do get the training, hours of practice, certification, and evidence for coaching itself, as well as for your own coaching results, so you can coach with confidence. Confidence is a coaching deliverable. Without it, the coach and client are both disadvantaged.

  4. Dislike of the client or the client’s behaviors - Do interview potential clients in advance. Don't coach anyone you don't like. It's unpleasant and rarely goes well. And although this isn't quite the same as liking a client, believing in your client goes a long way toward helping both of you like, trust, and respect one another, which are the foundations for an effective coaching relationship. It's unethical to coach clients you don't believe in.

  5. Disappointment in the coaching results - The first four negative effects are likely to lead to disappointment in positive coaching results, so don't let them occur. If you don't like the client, aren't confident, don't know how to measure, and tend to get caught in the client's dramas, you're results are likely to be poor-to-mediocre, at best. If you add ineffective communication skills (see below), then emotional exhaustion and feeling underpaid are likely outcomes, as well. Do negotiate coaching engagements that set you and your clients up for success.

  6. Emotional exhaustion, high pressure, over-challenged, or stress - Do keep your client roster small enough that exhaustion isn't a factor. Don't let clients and sponsors pressure you into doing a mediocre job.

  7. Difficulties in being an effective communicator - Do develop advanced communication skills. This is a coaching basic. An effective coach training school will address this and tell you if you have issues to work on. So will a good coach, or coaching supervisor, or coaching certification. Communication is your instrument. Don't coach until you've tuned it to optimum quality.

  8. Feeling underpaid - Do avoid all these pitfalls. Then you can demand and get what you deserve to be paid, because client outcomes will be impressively positive with few negative effects. Don't coach without getting the training you need.

The following negative outcomes for clients were identified by the authors, but could be mitigated by the above Dos and Don'ts: Deeper problems can be triggered but may beyond the scope of coaching. Client's new behaviors led to conflict with current relationships. Client's perspective on their work downshifted to less meaningful or satisfying. Client performance temporarily declined as they mastered new behaviors.

In a nutshell, coaches in these studies may have benefited from more training, or at least more effective training, as well as from coaching on the coach's coaching, otherwise known as supervision, and by more practice, better communication, negotiation, and agreement setting, and by the coaches raising their own standards for their work.

 

Thinking about advanced coach training? Consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, accredited for 210 ICF hours:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

Topics: coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

The Role of Positive Psychology in Planetary Consciousness

Posted by Julia Stewart

Planetary Consciousness

At the International Positive Psychology Association's 6th World Congress this year, positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*, gave a talk called, Towards a Planetary Consciousness.

He asked, "What is the contribution Positive Psychology can make to the global society evolving on this planet--which could result either in an unprecedented flowering of life, or in its total extinction?

That's a heavy question for what is often referred to as, "the science of happiness", but it's similar to questions being asked worldwide by thought leaders as the Climate Crisis heats up and critical resources run out. Currently, large percentages of the world's populations are without reliable food and water, while natural disasters are on the rise, and the resulting conflicts, migrations, political turmoil, economic instability, and wars have left many feeling anxious about the future while also mourning what's already been lost.

By the way, this is a massive coaching opportunity: helping people develop the resilience they need so they can flourish in an increasingly difficult future.

Csikszentmihalyi is neither a marketer nor politician. Nor is he a spiritual teacher who promises to help you evolve your consciousness, so there was no soaring rhetoric nor sweeping promises in his talk. He's a scientist who is opening up a conversation on where positive psychology might help help in developing universal values that may help people thrive, without forcing one culture's values upon others. It's unusual even to hear a scientist use the word, "consciousness" because it is so difficult to define.

"Unless we find good solutions, the future will be a pretty bad place to live for our children and grandchildren."

Positive psychology deviates from previous psychological study by looking at what constitutes "the good life", a question usually asked by philosophers. Csikszentmihalyi said scientists need to explore the teachings of spiritual leaders such as Zoroaster and the Buddha to find what works best in today's world and share their findings with the leaders of the future.

Clearly this is an important issue for leadership coaches, who will want to pay close attention to the research that results from this focus. We all will.

 

Thinking about becoming a positive psychology coach? Download the FREE eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* If you're not quite sure how to pronounce "Csikszentmihalyi", here's a useful mnemonic: "Chick sent me high."

Topics: future of coaching, Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Values, Climate Change, become a positive psychology coach, IPPA

How to Distinguish Healthy Positivity From Toxic Positivity

Posted by Julia Stewart

Toxic Positivity

Most coaches are highly positive and that is a wonderful thing.

Positivity helps our clients believe in themselves and their goals. And that's a key to helping them reach those goals. So positivity is one of the keys to masterful coaching. But sometimes coaches, and their clients, misunderstand what positivity really is, when it is most powerful, how to cultivate it, and how to use it well. Like all powerful tools, positivity, when used incorrectly, can cause problems. Big problems!

This is one of the many reasons professional coaches need to be well trained, so they understand the nuances of the powerful tools they use. Otherwise they may backfire.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, calls positivity the experience of positive emotions such as gratitude, serenity, love, and more. Experiencing enough of these on a regular basis can be transformative and leads to flourishing by broadening awareness, building our strengths, and helping us become the best versions of ourselves. She makes distinctions about the most useful forms of positivity, such as positivity that is natural vs. artificial, spontaneous vs. insincere, and positivity that's harmonious vs. obsessive. The latter are less useful, but according to Fredrickson, most people can benefit from experiencing more the the former.

Barbara Fredrickson's definition of positivity is what I call Healthy Positivity.

Healthy Positivity may sometimes include intense positive emotions, but more often includes subtle feelings such as open-mindedness, curiosity, empathy, contentment, optimism, generosity, harmony, kindness, compassion, wisdom, perseverance, flexibility, and belief in others (notice that most of these are Character Strengths). Healthy Positivity isn't 100% positive. It's more like 75-90% positive, over time. You can be positive and still have some difficult moments and even some bad days. The point is that you can respond to life instead of trying to control it. And you use your wisdom to help build positive habits that feel good, but ultimately, help you and the people around you enjoy more health, greater success, stronger relationships, and even longer life (according to some researchers).

In contrast, Toxic Positivity tends to be intense, even relentless. The person has an agenda to be 100% positive and wants people around them to be positive too. Toxic Positivity is self-centered, artificial, rigid, can drive others away, is sometimes desperate, and tends to lead to failure.

What is Toxic Positivity like?

  • Toxic Positivity has a manic quality to it. It fails to notice genuine concerns or to respond to what is going on. It feels fake to other people and they are less likely to trust it (Imagine an overly friendly or excited salesman who makes you want to run away.) Toxic positivity isn't curious or responsive because the person has already decided how they will be - POSITIVE!!! - no matter the cost. Instead of being open to learning from what's happening, or to notice how others are responding, Toxic Positivity claims everything is GREAT!!!. Example: I had a friend I'll call, Bob*, who was studying the Law of Attraction hoping it would help him build his coaching business. He tried a new marketing campaign and I texted him later to see if he got a good response. He replied, "Nope! Not a one! LOL!" I was glad he wasn't discouraged, but curiosity about what wasn't working and a plan to make it better might have led him to success faster.
  • Toxic positivity is judgmental or lacks compassion. It tells others to stop being so negative. It avoids people who are sick or depressed (If being around suffering is harming your mood, do give yourself a break, but you don't have to avoid every friend who is down. Compassion is positive.) Toxic positivity is self-absorbed and others often respond negatively to it. Example: When Bob's city was engulfed in a dangerous weather disaster that knocked out power and internet for thousands, made roads impassible for days, and put countless humans and animals in life threatening situations, I reached out to see if he was okay. His response? "I thought it was fun! LOL!" Wow, Bob, you used to be such a caring person.
  • Toxic positivity is selfish and can't see past its own agenda. This is a disservice to others and people feel drained by it. Example: I took a break from Bob's relentless laugh track and explained why to him. Not surprisingly, he didn't understand, possibly because his agenda was in the way. I know he'll come back to himself overtime. Most people do recover from Toxic Positivity. But if you're being positive and it's annoying or offending people, or friends are just drifting away, maybe it's not them. It could be you.

By now, you have a pretty good idea of the difference between Healthy Positivity, which is transformative, and Toxic Positivity, which can be harmful to you and others. Knowing when to apply Fredrickson's positivity is a key. Continuing to be yourself is another. And don't forget, emotions are just information about how life is going for you. Most people, most of the time, don't need to override negative feelings. They need to pay attention to the information they're receiving from those feelings and respond to it. That's a positive approach. But there are times when negativity really doesn't help and even harms. That's when added positivity can make the biggest impact.

Here are three times when increasing your positivity matters most, depending on your current habits:

  1. THE PAST, if you're a habitual ruminator: someone who mulls over every mistake you've made, every embarrassment, or every perceived slight or criticism from others, every hurt feeling or moment of anger you've experienced, every frustration, etc., you're in danger of making yourself depressed. Shifting your thoughts - toward more positive reframes, such as accepting mistakes or criticisms as opportunities to learn and make better choices, or to design your life so you get to do more of what you're good at and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. Caveat: If you're already moderately to severely depressed, positive thinking may not be enough. Do get assistance from a therapist. But cultivating honest positivity is a healthy habit.
  2. THE PRESENT, if you're a chronic complainer: someone who is never quite satisfied, who is disappointed by less than excellence in every area, who does battle with every moment and maybe even with every other human, you're wearing yourself out and everyone around you. Complainers are drainers. They also can be toxic and literally harm their own health and that of those around them. We all have a negativity bias that makes it easier to notice the bad than the good, and when we are stressed, this tendency gets even stronger. Problem is, the more we focus on what we don't want, the more we get what we don't want. Moreover, people start to avoid us. Don't be a drainer. It takes discipline to start noticing what's going well and appreciate it, but it is well worth the effort. Even if the only positive in your life is that you're breathing, that's kind of awesome considering the alternative!
  3. THE FUTURE, if you're a constant worrier: you're trying to control the future, which rarely works, and you're using a costly and ineffective tool, to boot. As they say, worry is not a plan. Worse, worry tends to make us anxious and anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses there is. Again, if you're chronically anxious, let a professional help you, but if you just need an upgrade, try imagining what you want instead of what you don't want. Then ask yourself how you could create it. If you need more resources to get there, start building them. If you're worried something will go wrong, plan how you'll handle it in advance. These tools can help you develop your confidence so fear doesn't get the better of you. Over time, you'll feel better and have better outcomes, too.

 

I hope these distinctions are useful. If you'd like to work with a coach on Healthy Positivity, find a positive psychology coach here.

 

If you'd like to get training to become an effective positive psychology coach, explore our program here.

 

If you just want to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the FREE eBook here:

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* A few details about "Bob" have been changed for this article.

 

 

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, coach training program, Positive Psychology, free ebook, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positivity, become a positive psychology coach, Toxic Positivity

Why Potential Clients Don't Buy Your Coaching Services

Posted by Julia Stewart

find new clients

Some coaches have more clients than they can handle while others struggle to attract enough clients.

Why is that?

Sales and marketing are complex professions, in their own right. Some coaches already have a good background in one or the other. Some take to sales and marketing naturally and their businesses take off. But some coaches have a longer learning curve than others.

The good news is that what makes you a great coach can also make you a great marketer and salesperson.

Here are nine shifts you may need to make. Any one of these could make all the difference in selling your coaching. Who knows how much more money you may make because you read this today?


Here are 9 shifts that will help you sell your coaching:

  1. Listen more than you talk. You wouldn't do all the talking in a coaching session and you wouldn't try to get your clients to do you bidding, either. Why would you resort to those ineffective tactics when having a sales conversation? A coaching business is a service to humanity. It's a collaboration with your market. Include your clients' and potential clients' thoughts, dreams, problems, and aspirations in everything you do. That includes your marketing and your sales. It all starts with listening.
  2. Technology is a great way to market but a terrible way to sell. It's shiny and new and everybody is obsessed with it, right? Right. That's why people crave real human conversations that help them clarify and align their lives with what really matters to them. Offer that, instead. Coaching has been one of the fastest-growing professions for twenty years because of the deficits caused by new technology. And internet marketing gurus have terrible tools for selling coaching. Don't get caught up in their hype. For example: One coach recently told me that marketing via text was the new big thing because people don't open emails but everybody reads their texts. Really? The people I know all hate getting SPAM texts even more than SPAM via email because they have to pay for every text they receive. People who feel disrespected, annoyed, or abused by you won't hire you to coach them. Here's another example: I've built one of the largest mailing lists in the coaching industry, but I still talk to virtually every potential client before I let them hire me. Because that's what works. Market respectfully and have real conversations with the potential clients you like most. Treat them like friends, not prospects.
  3. Make it all about them. A coach is even better than a friend, sometimes. That's why we can charge for what we do. The more you listen and find out what matters to potential clients, the more you can find out if they are a fit for what you offer. If not, refer them to someone else. Or, learn via those conversations and start offering what people really want. As you serve your potential clients, you will serve yourself and your business.
  4. You don't have to "put yourself out there" like a used-car salesman. I've written before about coaches as highly sensitive people. What makes us great at coaching also makes glad-handing at networking events, and high-pressure sales, a nightmare for us. And that's a good thing. Nobody wants a coach who is more interested in handing out business cards and making quick sales than they do connecting with people, hearing their stories, and offering to help. Use your strengths to sell your coaching: your empathy, your curiosity, your wisdom, and your desire to help others be their best. Forget the cliches and promote what is unique and valuable about your coaching.
  5. You do need to talk with potential clients, sometimes multiple times. This is why internet marketing is fine for getting people's attention, but nearly useless for selling high-touch services, like coaching. People need to feel they know you before they'll hire you to coach them. If you're a brilliant writer, you may be able to create intimacy with your blog posts, but for most coaches, conversation is the key. You don't need to cold-call ever (hurray) or talk to a hundred people everyday (yikes). Just check in now and then with people who you think might be a match. Find out what their challenges are. Let them know you can help. Give them a gentle nudge if you think they're ready. Sometimes you know they are ready before they do. I had one man hire me after nearly seven years on my mailing list. What made the difference? I called him and we had a great conversation.
  6. Trust and other emotions trump facts, features, and benefits. Stop trying to sell packages to people. Nobody cares how many sessions, how many webinars, how many videos, etc. your package has. They want to know if you can help them reach their dreams. Connect to that. Empathize with it. Help them imagine what it'll be like to coach with you and to transform their lives. That's magical stuff. Demonstrate that you can be trusted by continuing to show up with small solutions that make their lives a bit better now. That makes it easier to make the leap to hiring you to coach them.
  7. Find out what people need and align your coaching with the solutions to their problems. All this listening, communicating, and relationship-building will help you know your market better than anyone else. That's the surest way to find your niche. Now you're equipped with the knowledge, understanding, and ability to help and that makes you unique in the field of coaching. I know one coach who began with one client who was a dentist. He helped that dentist build a successful practice and then leveraged that knowledge to build a million-dollar coaching business for himself. That's a true niche.
  8. Be such an effective coach that your clients stay with you for years. That's real success. I'm not suggesting you make your clients dependent upon your coaching. That's a disservice. Learn to customize your conversations and keep your clients challenged and growing so that paying your fee is a no-brainer for them. It's not unusual for clients to stay with me for years. That means I feel much less pressured to promote my coaching. That's one of the secrets of making self promotion fun. By the way, I couldn't have done this without great coach training.
  9. Get your ego out of the way. I heard a coach, whose business was flagging, say that she had built a track record and reputation and that she shouldn't have to promote herself, anymore. I remember thinking, "Oh yes, you do." We all do. Another coach told me she was tired of everything you have to do to be successful as a coach. I asked what all she was doing. She said, "Nothing!" and laughed. I'd like to respectfully suggest that what is really tiresome is NOT promoting your business, because sales and marketing, done well, is a heck of a lot of fun. You meet awesome people, learn to serve better, hone your craft, and become a sought-out expert in your field. In other words, when you stop letting your ego stop you, you can start helping people and they will then start telling you how awesome you are and your ego will get a much bigger fix, as a result. Better yet, you'll be one of those coaches whose client roster is always full, and whose bank account is healthy. Everybody wins.

 

Sale and marketing this way takes time. The trouble is, everything else takes longer.

 

What if you joined a coach training school and had a full coaching practice by the time you graduated? We offer evidence-based coach training (because we listened and that's what our market told us they wanted) that includes, at no extra charge, a business-building program that is so effective everyone who finishes it has paying clients and 87% have full coaching practices. Learn to coach. Sell your coaching. Perfect!

 

Explore our coach training programs and get an effective business-building strategy for free when you join:

 

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Topics: money, coach training, marketing and sales, ego, curiosity, sales training for new coaches, successful business, Million Dollar Coach, Marketing for life coaches, coach training program, Strengths

How to Manage Progress and Accountability Like a Pro

Posted by Julia Stewart

Managing Progress and Accountability

Managing Progress and Accountability is often the most important ICF Competency but many coaches struggle to do it well.

What makes Competency #11 so important is that, for your client, reaching their goal is what matters most. You may occasionally have coaching sessions in which your client has such profound insights that new awareness is the chief deliverable for those sessions. Coaches love insights but for many of our clients, insights are just a means to an end and that end is what your client hired you for: reaching their goal.

What exactly is Managing Progress and Accountability?

You're forgiven if you're a bit confused because the ICF's materials talk about this one differently in different places, or at least they seem to. The word that confuses most coaches is, "Accountability". Many assume that means the coach holds the client accountable for what they plan to get done, but that is the weakest way to do it. A stronger way is to have the client determine their own forms of accountability. Stronger still, is to help the client set goals that are closely related to their most important personal values so their own passion helps them follow through.

Here's what I mean about confusing text (from the ICF's comparison levels):

        "Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action.
         Staying focused on what is important for the client and holding them accountable."

         So is the client responsible for their actions or does the coach hold them accountable?

What makes Managing Progress and Accountability difficult?

The same issue that makes Establishing the Coaching Agreement challenging, namely keeping track of a linear process while maintaining holistic presence, also makes Managing Progress and Accountability a challenge, because most people don't do both at the same time except during activities they've mastered that use their personal strengths. In other words, this will probably take quite a bit of practice to master even for highly talented coaches.

What happens when you Manage Progress and Accountability like a pro?

  • First, you focus on what's most important to your client rather than getting hung up on the idea of holding them accountable. The more important the goal, the less accountability they will need.
  • That focus on importance begins at the beginning of the session, not the end, even though this is the last Competency.
  • Identify both small and large goals and align smaller goals with bigger (most important) goals.
  • Let the client lead in choosing what, who, when, where, etc.
  • Within the framework of importance, a.k.a. values, passion, inspiration, fulfillment, legacy; help the client apply their strengths and get assistance as needed from other people, tools, systems, and structures.
  • Get a commitment for a date and time when they will act, usually the sooner the better.
  • Both you and your client must fully believe that the plan is both sufficient and sustainable, that they will follow through, and reach their goals.
  • Just before the session ends, ask the client what they are taking away from it.

 

Start practicing Managing Progress and Accountability as a framework for your entire coaching session and you will master it.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

Learn more about ICF coaching with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, now accredited for 200+ ICF hours, enough to meet the training requirement for the ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC).

 

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Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC

15 Self-Care Must-Do's If You're a Highly Sensitive Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitve coach

There is an inherited trait known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or Empath, that is common amongst coaches, especially master coaches.

According to research, 15-20% of all humans are born HSPs, as are 15-20% of all "higher" animals, such as monkeys. This suggests a survival value for the overall population. In other words, HSPs are needed by others. What's different about HSPs? We notice more and sense subtleties that others miss, process information deeply, are more empathic and emotional, and all of this can cause over-stimulation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. It's a blessing and a curse! However, if you're an HSP coach, it is a gift for you and your clients as long as you're aware of it and take especially great care of yourself and your sensitivity. To find out if you're a highly sensitive coach and how to optimize your sensitivity, read on...

Highly Sensitive Persons are impacted more intensely by both positive and negative environmental stimuli.

 

This means your self care, and who and what you surround yourself with, will have a more dramatic impact on you than on someone who is not an HSP. So to be a great coach, you need to take your well-being seriously. No wonder coaches love positive psychology!

Many of the qualities the ICF requires in their Master Certified Coaches (MCC), come naturally to HSPs.  These include conscientiousness, deep connection and awareness, vulnerability, presence, curiosity, empathy, ability to notice more, intuition, deep listening, quick learning, ability to stay in the background while eliciting the client's greatness, allowing the client to lead, and regarding the client with Love 2.0.

 

BUT. Even if you are an HSP, these qualities are unlikely to show up if you don't practice wonderful self care and personal growth, because over-stimulation causes you to shut down and become irritable. Not conducive to great coaching!

 

Here are Self-Care Musts for the Highly Sensitive Coach:

  1. Rest and quiet are your biggest self-care priorities if you're a highly sensitive coach. This includes eight or more hours of sleep every night. Seriously.
  2. Get significant alone time. Especially if you're also an introvert, you need at least an hour per day to yourself to be your best.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. If you haven't mastered this yet, put it at the top of your to-do list.
  4. Keep your client load relatively small. Don't coach more than 10 - 20 hours per week. Less is more!
  5. Work with a functional medicine physician to optimize your health because the affects of illness, fatigue, and pain will negatively impact you more than others.
  6. Work with your own coach, especially an HSP coach, to be your very best.
  7. Develop a meaningful spiritual practice that helps you stay centered and open.
  8. Consider working with a psychotherapist if you had a difficult childhood. HSPs who grow up in negative environments are often prone to depression and anxiety which can harm your coaching and your quality of life.
  9. Screen potential coaching clients to avoid working with difficult people who will drain your energy.
  10. Do consider working with clients who are HSPs and need coaches who understand them.
  11. Avoid "energy vampires", especially narcissists. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, Empaths (HSPs) do particularly badly with narcissists because they don't understand how someone can thoroughly lack empathy. If you can't avoid them, at least learn how to handle them.
  12. Consider working from home. You'll avoid difficult commutes, large crowds, and noxious environments.
  13. Set up your office so it is ideal for you and your sensitivities. The more you put up with, the harder it is to coach brilliantly. And your clients deserve nothing less!
  14. Find a sales and marketing process that leverages your sensitivity rather than forcing you to be who you are not. HSP marketing and sales is an advantage in coaching, but only if you rely on your strengths. Don't let anyone tell you differently!
  15. Embrace your sensitivity along with its downsides and rejoice that you've found the perfect profession for you. Self-compassion for your extra-care needs helps you love and appreciate your self and your clients.

 

Want to take a quick test to confirm whether you're an HSP? Go here.

 

References for this post include research scientist and psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine N. Aron's updated book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff's book, The Empath's Survival Guide, The former will appeal to you if you want to know the research into HSP. The latter is more spiritual in nature and offers many practices to protect your energy.

 

Are you an HSP coach who wants to benefit from the power of positive psychology so you can flourish?

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, master coach, MCC, Positive Psychology, personal growth, highly sensitive, self care

Why There Are No Mother-In-Laws In Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

There are no mother-in-laws in coaching

The phrase, "There are no mother-in-laws in coaching", could help you avoid common coaching mistakes.

Read on to learn tools that will keep you out trouble, make your coaching sessions easier, and provide much greater value to your coaching clients...

Every coach gets requests for coaching on topics such as these:

  • How can I get my boss to stop yelling at me?
  • How can I get my kids to argue less?
  • How can I get my husband to stop placating his meddling mother?

 

The wording of the request and the relationship/s involved may vary but the request is basically the same:

 

Please coach me to make someone else different.

 

What's the problem with this coaching topic?

 

You can't coach anyone but your client.

 

And within that problem also lies the solution: The simplest response is to empathize but tell your client you can't coach anyone but them. That said, if they want, you can coach them to manage these and other conflicts more effectively so they are less of a problem for them. Sometimes when the client changes their own behavior the other people change as well because we all fit our environments like keys fit locks. If you change one, the other has to change or the locks won't work anymore.

By the way, the lock and key metaphor works more often than the explanation that people we don't like are our mirror images. According to the mirror-image theory, things we don't like about others are really what we don't like about ourselves. This is often true but not always and it can put undue responsibility on someone who may genuinely be victimized and doesn't have the power to change the other. Never make your client responsible for other people's behavior. And never coach them to get somebody else to change. That tends to backfire. We can only change ourselves. If others change too, that's a bonus.

 

So how can you coach a client who's having issues with someone else?

 

As always, ask more than you tell. For example:
  • How would you like it to be?
  • When have you resolved a situation like this before?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • How can you take care of yourself going forward?

But do share some reframes such as:
  • Other people's reactions are always about them, not you.
  • Everybody's doing the best they can even when we're sure they aren't.
  • We become who we hang out with.
  • We can only take care of our own stuff.

 

Do offer a tool or two. Here's something interesting. The Karpman Drama Triangle offers a simple way to look at conflict. In every conflict those involved are all playing one of three roles (often all three): The Persecutor (It's all your fault!) The Victim {Poor me!) The Rescuer (Let me help you.) Ask your client which role they've been playing. Hint: Almost everybody thinks they are the Victim. And f they've been playing the Rescuer, they've probably been making it worse, not better.

To help them get out of the triangle, mention The Empowerment Dynamic. The Persecutor becomes the Challenger. The Rescuer becomes the Coach. The Victim becomes the Creator. Whichever role your client has been playing, ask them how they could take on the empowered version of that role.



Coach vs. Rescuer: Be sure you're always being the coach, not the rescuer. Your client never needs to be rescued.

 

Some persecutors are more difficult than others. As much as 10% of society is made up of people who are called High Conflict Personalities (HCPs). They tend to seek out people to blame and torment. If your client is dealing with an HCP, they may benefit from therapy, but the following book can be a great resource: The Five Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life by Bill Eddy.  I recommended it to someone recently who'd been having trouble with her boss for years. After reading it she said dealing with her boss is now a piece of cake!

In short, everybody has conflicts and your clients will want your help with theirs. Don't rescue them and don't coach them to change others. Do coach them to alter how they show up with those others, because you can't coach their boss, their kids, their spouse, or their mother-in-law!

Want to upgrade your coaching skills and get ready to coach whatever your clients ask? Check out the Certified Competent Coach Course. In eight weeks, you'll upgrade your skills, get all your questions answered and get certified. Download the Fact Sheet below:

 

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Topics: coaching skills, certified competent coach

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