People come to coaching for any number of reasons. To give you a feel for how some typical coaching relationships work, and benefit the client, I have summarized a few examples.
These are real stories, altered in name only to respect the privacy of the client.
Story 1 concerns a career and life coaching situation.
Story 2 is about business coaching an independent professional.
Story 3 is about executive coaching.
Story 4 involves work with a new coach.
Story 5 involves work with an entrepreneur.
Rebecca was an energetic 32 year old, who wanted to feel passionate about what she did. She came to coaching to better identify and hone her strengths, understand her weaknesses, and develop a greater sense of direction and purpose in her career and personal life.
When we started coaching, she was working for a small entrepreneurial company that didn’t appreciate her. Rebecca was working long hours and going well out of her way to keep this business moving ahead, in the face of incompetent management and infighting between the main shareholders. Through her heroic efforts, the company was making progress, yet she was not getting the recognition or rewards she deserved. Her level of satisfaction with her life was low, and at a deeper level she was beginning to sense that this was not the job for her.
In our coaching work we were able to identify the most important areas of her life, the things that made her come more fully alive. What Rebecca really loved was to build and create and make a difference. She also had a strong independent streak and really valued her freedom. She was a people person and an enthusiastic leader with high integrity. When she cared about a project she could throw herself into it with incredible enthusiasm.
Recognizing that in her current position she was not enjoying the freedom, creativity, and balance she needed to feel happy, and not really feeling that she was making a difference in her job, Rebecca began a process to find and develop a plan to transition into more satisfying work.
It took a few months to get everything lined up and make the move. The weekly coaching calls helped to keep her focused, and moving past the various obstacles and concerns she faced. But soon Rebecca found herself in a position she had helped create with a non-profit, where her creativity and leadership was put to great use. Also, she was able to organize her life to fit in more regular exercise and leisure time with her friends and family. Her stress level went down, and her level of fulfillment went way up.
Even though our regular coaching work ended over a year ago, I still keep in touch with Rebecca. She is moving strongly ahead with her life and career, has some great new relationships, and has managed to fit in some pretty amazing vacations. She still has regular challenges in her life, however with a clear sense of who she is, and what makes her happy, she is able to make great decisions that keep her on track to where she is going.
Rebecca’s comments on the coaching;
“You helped me look at my life differently and find out what really mattered…..you were with me as I made some of the best changes in my life. Thanks Steve, I now know who I am, and where I am going.”
Peter was a typical independent professional. He had worked long and hard to build up a professional practice as a financial advisor that paid the bills nicely. Yet 15 years into his career, and with a family, he found he was running out of steam. While his business was stable, he had lost any sense of accomplishment. And he was having a hard time finding the satisfaction he once enjoyed. Peter had hit a plateau, and he was having a hard time breaking through.
The focus of our work was to find the areas of his job he really enjoyed doing, as well as those areas that contributed the most to his success. Through our work, Peter found that he really liked working with his clients, and when he spent more time with his clients, his practice grew. So we worked to find the ways to help him delegate more of the administrative work – which he hated – and find the structure to help him get out to see his clients more.
Looking at his strengths and weaknesses, Peter discovered that while he was very strong technically, he would benefit from developing even stronger people skills. So we spent some time developing better listening, communication, trust-building and empathy skills, which helped in his business and private life.
We also spent some time getting Peter back in better physical condition and establishing better balance in his life.
Within 6 months his business had already grown by 30% and his stress was much lower.. Peter was more fully engaged in his work again and he was loving it. While working far fewer hours, he thought he could double his income over the next year. He also felt like he was in better control of his life and was enjoying spending less time at work, and more time with his family, boat and golf club.
About our coaching work, Peter commented;
“Life changing….this is incredibly valuable to me.”
Michael was a successful senior executive for a well known software multinational. He had enjoyed steady advancement through the company ranks, and believed he was being groomed for senior management. Michael came to coaching at the suggestion of his OD team, to further develop his management and leadership skills.
Michael came from the numbers side of the business. With a sharp intellect and high self-confidence, he could quickly understand a situation, implement a solution and achieve the objective. However, as he moved up the management ladder he found these skills weren’t enough to have the impact he wanted.
More and more, Michael found that he needed to build the skills associated with connecting with and getting extraordinary results out of people. Michael wanted to understand and master the nuances of leadership.
Early in our coaching Michael came to see that his introverted “leave me alone and I will come up with a brilliant solution” approach was doing little to empower his team and build a culture where he could leverage his skills.
Through our coaching, Michael developed the interpersonal skills (coaching, empathy, trust building, etc.) to build far more productive and enjoyable relationships with the key members of his team. Over a four month period his knowledge and practice of the competencies of leadership grew to a stage where he was spending 80% of his time empowering and raising the bar for his team.
The bottom line of our work was that Michael was enjoying himself far more, and his business group was outperforming other divisions.
On other fronts Michael was able to significantly reduce his stress level through the establishment of a weekly exercise program. And he also developed a habit of scheduling in “perspective” or quiet time to keep the big picture in focus. He found these two additions to his weekly routine to be very rewarding.
About our coaching work, Michael said.
“Extremely valuable…. I look forward to our weekly talks. They help me keep the focus and perspective I need.”
Jody had spent 10 years in the “rat race” and was feeling like she needed a big change. A friend had told her about coaching, and after a quick tour of the Internet, she found my site and gave me a call.
In our first complimentary conversation, she asked many questions about the coaching profession, training schools, the business aspects etc., and I encouraged her to complete her research, and think about it.
She did, and a few days later she called and told me she wanted to work with me.
In our first few sessions she got a good feel for how coaching works. We were able to spend time looking at Jody’s values, the important areas of her life that gave her the most satisfaction. From this she realized that she loved to work with people. She also realized that independence and flexibility was really important to her, as she was moving closer to starting a family. Within two weeks she was sure she wanted to become a coach.
We next spent some time finding the best training option for Jody, taking into account her learning style, location, and type of coaching she was drawn towards.
Within a month she had sampled a few schooling options, made her decision and completed her first 3-day coaching skills course from an ICF accredited school. She was ready to begin to build her practice.
We next spent a few weeks dealing with the logistics of setting up her practice and evaluating the most productive ways of marketing herself. Jody was enthusiastic about coaching but a little reserved. It was important for her to find a way of developing clients that felt authentic for her, and was a good fit for her personality.
Soon she had her first client. Within another month she had 2 others. And as her training advanced, and her skills and competency grew, she became more and more successful at attracting clients. We helped her develop a solid niche of clients she loved to work with and could easily attract through writing, networking and web marketing.
Seven months into the process Jody felt confident about her ability to support herself as a coach and was ready to say goodbye to the Rat Race. Now as a full time coach, she had even more time to build her practice.
Thirteen months after our first call, Jody was a certified coach, with a full practice, working from her home office, and loving it.
Of our coaching work she said;
“Steve, I don’t know how to thank you. When I look at the changes I’ve made over the last year, I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. I love the freedom, joy and meaning coaching has brought into my life.”
Tony had worked for HP for 6 years, long enough to know he did not want to have a job working for anyone but himself.
In his spare time he had been working on a new business idea that he was getting more and more excited about. After a few months of thinking it through, and bouncing the idea of some of his friends, he contacted me. His goal was to find out if this idea really had potential and, if it did, figure out how to make it a reality.
Over the first month we carefully evaluated the market, looking closely at his ideal clients, their needs, and the potential competitors. Tony also built a few prototypes and spent some time getting first-hand feedback from some of his ideal clients. With a better idea of what his clients wanted, and how to best market to them, he refined his design and business plan to a stage where he was ready to raise some seed capital.
It took a few months of work in the evenings to get his pitch together and close his first funding with some investors close to his family. However, with the money committed, Tony was free to quit his day job and begin to work full time on his own company.
With some money in the bank, Tony was able to bring on two other employees to help him launch his first retail outlet, a kiosk in a mall just before Christmas. Tony was a great innovator, but he really benefited from having support to implement and maintain his ideas.
Even though most of his marketing at this stage was word of mouth, his product was a big hit with kids and their parents. This initial success helped them refine their overall marketing plan and initiate an Internet outlet for his product.
Within 6 months of our first call, Tony was well on his way to building a very successful business, which he intents to take national over the next 18 months.
I still work with Tony, and he has told me.
“I cannot believe this is all happening for me. I can’t believe how far we have come. And I know I simply would not have done this without your support and encouragement. You helped me see this was possible. You guided me through the planning. You helped me get it financed, and take the plunge. I cannot thank you enough. “