5 Ways that Less is More in Effective Coaching

In coaching, less is more. Coaching is a high-impact process that (when done right) gets great results in short meetings that are efficient for clients.

Here are 5 ways that less is more in executive and leadership coaching:

1. You don't need to write lengthy proposals before you have closed a coaching engagement. I use a 2 page proposal/contract, and only send it to a client when we have agreed on terms and scope of the engagement. The proposal/contract lays out those terms to make sure we are in agreement. Other coaches tend to send long proposals before they have won the engagement, rather than ask the tough questions to make sure they really have a deal. This is as true for external coaches as it is for internal coaches.

2. You don't need lengthy intake forms for clients. Ask where they are now, where they want to be after the coaching engagement is over, and what results they want to achieve that will make the engagement among the most valuable experiences in their career. Then you can design appropriate assessments to understand the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Other coaches give each and every client the same bulky packet of questionnaires and surveys, and top executives can't stand that.  Be efficient. Don't add to your clients' workload any more than is absolutely needed. Let your coaching be part of the fabric of what they are already doing.

3. You don't need to assign huge homework tasks. I know of one coaching franchise that requires clients to fill in all sorts of monthly tracking reports. Most of their clients hate it and don't do it, and this causes tension. So why have them do it at all? There are simpler and more efficient ways to track results.

4. You don't need to spend lots of time with your clients in order to justify your fees or value. These days, executives will pay more if you can get results in less time, because they are so busy. I know an investment banker who can raise $5 million for a business with just a phone call or two. Should he be paid by the hour or based on the value he provided by raising those funds? The best coaches apply that same principle to the fees that they charge.

5. You don't need to talk a lot or demonstration how much you know. Great coaches shut up and listen. They let what the client has to say drive the questions they ask. More importantly, they find that one observation to make or question to ask that shifts the client's thinking and opens up new ways of thinking, interacting with others, and moving forward.

This final point is worth clarifying with an example…

I take tennis lessons every week with a great tennis pro. Each lesson, he finds just one thing for us to work on, and that's what we do. Everything is focused on that one, single improvement that will do the most for my game. This week, I wasn't loading my weight properly on my backhand, and we worked on that until I got it. That's all we did, and it felt great to make that single improvement!

Meanwhile, on the next court, there was another pro who kept shouting a different pointer to his client after every ball. In a single lesson he probably gives 100 pointers. Who can keep track of all that?

Keep it simple. Do less. Get more.

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