6 cop outs that separate inexperienced coaches from the best

Lately we have been discussing something we call "coaching cop outs." These are traps that less seasoned and professional coaches tend to fall into. Here are six of them:

1. "The engagement is not going well because my client is not coachable." Yes — you can't coach someone who doesn't want coaching. But if a client does not appear to be coachable, there are two possible reasons. It could be them, or it could be you. The less experienced coach blames the client. The more experienced coach first looks at whether the coaching and approach is providing value and adapting to the client's style.

2. Credentials. Many coaches hide behind their coaching credentials. It is fine and good to have a credential. But if you lead with, "I am a master coach," you probably aren't. In Buddhism they say, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, shoot him," meaning that anyone who claims to be a master, is anything but. Instead, focus on the compelling problems the people in your market face, and educate them about how you can help solve them and bring value.

3. Death by assessments. Yes — you absolutely should assess the client and situation. But if you do the same battery of tests every time, you might be hiding behind assessments instead of doing an efficient, precise job of getting to the root cause of the issue. It's like a doctor who orders too many unnecessary tests. For me, nothing beats the old-school 360 degree verbal assessment — done via in-person interviews.

4. Self-righteousness. Many coaches use their coaching status to put themselves up higher than others. They feel the right to push their values and view of the world onto others, because they are the coach and self-proclaimed expert. True experts are humble, and listen to understand and respect the client's values and thought process. Then they help clients have their own powerful insights about how best to move forward.

5. Personal issues. It is said that some (not all!) psychiatrists go into psychiatry because they are nuts. Some coaches become coaches to avoid dealing with their own shortcomings. This includes being so easily offended that they use coaching as a way to blame others who challenge them.

6. Jargon. The best coaches use simple but effective language. They don't hide behind organizational development or psychological mumbo jumbo.

I hope that you are not falling into any of these traps!

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