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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Coaching


The Role of the Life-Coach

Andrew Poole

The coach's role is to utilise the skills, techniques and toolkits at their disposal to take the client on a journey of self-discovery by these means:

Establishing a high level of rapport

Rapport has been described as the ability to enter each client's model of the world so that you can give them the feeling of being totally understood. This is achieved by a combination of physiology, tone of voice and the choice of words.

Working in a climate of trust, honesty and openness

A relationship between coach and client is a partnership and like all partnerships, it needs a climate of trust, honesty and openness in which to operate. If a client does not feel comfortable around these issues, they are not likely to engage fully in the process

Offering constructive feedback

Feedback from the coach is important for the client to know that what they are doing is achieving the desired results. This does need to be constructive though as criticism or obvious flattery will be counter-productive.

Encouraging clients to explore options

This is the part of the session where the client starts to come up with ideas to move towards the goal. Here the coach has to create the mood where the client can feel totally able to let their mind run free and think the unthinkable. It's important the client is aware that these are still only options, not commitments.

Praising clients' achievements

We all respond to praise just as we do to criticism and praise in coaching for what a client has achieved is a very useful tool. Many clients will be operating out of their comfort zone to complete actions and for that alone they deserve praise.

Challenging and taking their clients out of their comfort zone

The comfort zone is so called because it's a comfortable place to be and our coping mechanisms naturally want us to be in a place of comfort. A coaching client will quite naturally want to stay in this zone too as we don't go out of it for no reason. The point of coaching is to enable the client to develop and grow and for this they need to be stretched to meet new challenges. The coach must take the client into the stretch zone where appropriate in spite of the resistance they might face.

Acting as a sounding board

Elsewhere in this paper I've emphasized the importance of the skill of listening to effective coaching. It's unusual in today's world for people to be given the chance to just talk without interruptions and when given that chance people often take advantage and talk. Often, the fact that they are free to talk and voice out load their concerns proves to be a very powerful tool and without advice or guidance from the coach, the client can resolve an issue themselves just by being able to talk about it.

Raising awareness

Raising awareness can apply to both the client and the coach. The coach needs to have a heightened state of awareness to be sensitive to what they're seeing and hearing in the client. Awareness or more particularly self-awareness in the client will give them a better perception of their motivation and actions.

Helping clients to explore values and beliefs

It's important that at some point the client appreciates that the journey is equally as important as the goal. Failure to realise can lead to the state that "The end justifies the means". The client's actions must be congruent with their values and beliefs to avoid this.

Keeping clients on track

Each coaching session will be bound by the amount of time fixed upon. It is the role of the coach to pace the session and keep the conversation on track to maximise the benefit of each session.

Andrew Poole was CEO of a Financial Services Company in the UK and is now a qualified Life-Coach. To find out more about Life-Coaching and take the FREE Fine-Tune Your Life test, visit:

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