November 26, 2018
November 26, 2018

A lot has been written about coaching.  To the uninitiated, it can take on the appearance of ‘smoke and mirrors’ – just another initiative thatrepackages old management and other weird theories and sells them under a new banner.  This could not be further from the truth.

I confess (don’t tell a soul) that until I enrolled in the Institute of Leadership and Management executive coaching certificate (2009), I thought pretty much the same. I even hated the word coach, because it seemed so inauthentic. Once I was on the program expertly led by the very wonderful and amusing Dave Tee, I changed my mind and I changed my mindset.

As I put in my coaching hours and saw how my clients changed I was excited by the possibilities. I witnessed mindset changes in them and me. This spurred me on and as I moved from Executive coaching into business, brand and book coaching, I came to appreciate the fundamentals that I had been taught.

Coaching when embraced has a powerful impact on the individual, the organisation (your business or the one you work in) and across the whole supply chain. When someone suddenly realises the possibilities for personal growth, for achieving their aspirations, they will ‘happily’ step out of their comfort zone and take the first steps towards releasing their potential and impacting positively upon what they want.

A coaching mindset

To be a coach you need a coaching mindset just as much as the person you are coaching. To be coached you need a coachee mindset. Otherwise what is the point?

Coaching is a personal development process designed to enhance a person’s success in achieving her or his objectives within the context an expressed outcome.

But what does that mean?

It means, for example, that despite it being focused on the individual, it is important that everyone understands that within an ‘organizational’ context the ultimate goal is to improve effectiveness and efficiency, e.g. profitability.

It means in the context of writing a book, for example, that the aspiring writer understands what needs to be achieved by when so that they can become a published author.

For me some of the keys are:-

  • Good questions
  • Great listening

…and the understanding that we already have all of the resources to achieve many of our goals (desires or intentions) within us!  Sometimes, we just need some help in liberating them.

We all have 100% control over our mindsets.

What can you expect from someone with a coaching mindset?

Self-belief – you believe in your ability to coach and if you are being coached, you are open to being coached and believe that you can make the required or desired changes.

Driven – you are motivated by something deep within that means that you will get what you want.

Vision – you have a vision and will happily share it, empowering others to connect to their goals, desires and intentions.  You put ideas into action which take you towards your vision.

Lifelong learner –you believe in the power of continual learning. It is never too late to learn anything and put that learning into practice.

Accountability – as a coach you gently hold others accountable and as a coachee you enjoy the inspiration and motivation you get from being held accountable.

Co-creators –you share personal experience, learning and wisdom freely with others; you want others to grow as you grow. 

Brand ambassadors –you believe in aligning your values and vision with your core message. You understand and demonstrate the concept of know, like and respect, which builds trust.

See potential – you see the unrealised potential in others and help them to see it for themselves through coaching – both formal and informal.

Possibilities – you encourage others to envision possibilities. To go to the boundary of what is possible and to step across the line.

Active listener – you focus on the person speaking and do not wander off thinking about how to form the next question or what you are having for dinner.

Logical and intuitive –you understand logic, however, you are equally comfortable with intuition and imagination, and use all of these to improve communications, reduce conflict and improve consensus.

Challenge gently – you know how to, and can challenge others without making them feel criticised– you are passionate about helping others succeed. 

Sets goals, desires or intentions – you know that to get what you want, you set goals, desires or intentions. You regularly check that these are still meaningful and take action to reach them.

Choose win-win – you know that no one wins when anyone you work with feels like they are a loser.  You coach and mentor others to improve performance and to help them to develop continually.

Someone with a coaching mindset looks for win-win outcomes at every opportunity. You do not look to thrive on the ‘failure’ of others – you look to thrive on the ‘success’ of others – with others!

What makes a good coach?

Looking at the list above, you can easily identify key attributes.  You may want to add some things to the list. Mary Connor and Julia Pakora, in Coaching & Mentoring at work, suggest that there might be some other skills and behaviours worth considering[i]:-


  1. Supportive
  2. Sounding board
  3. Challenging
  4. Networker
  5. Respected
  6. Assertive
  7. Open
  8. Transparent
  9. Creative
  10. Visible
  11. Interpersonally skilled
  12. Strategic
  13. Kind
  14. Genuine
  15. Just

Look at yourself, (business or organization) and ask “what behaviours do I see” and “what behaviours do I want to see?” Then consider how to implement the behaviours you want to see.

What makes a good coachee?

To be honest I used to hate being the coachee, until I lowered my barriers and pulled myself willingly out of a zone where I felt discomfort. I had after all parted with my cash and did claim to want to change. Here’s what I considered.

Being prepared

I never just turned up flustered and unprepared with my brain still be focused on the last activity that I was doing and thinking on the next thing I had to do. I went through my notes and reminded myself what I committed to do.

Considering the issues that I faced

By fully understanding where I found myself and thinking about how I could explain my issues to your coach saved time and I gained much more insight.

Setting outcomes

Start with the end in mind and thinking about what I wanted to get out of the session and the whole process. 

Asking what I wanted to change

I reminded myself that a good coachee knows that coaching is about change and knowing what it is that needs to change and why. I also was open minded to what might come up that I hadn’t thought of.

Being a good listener

Not only does the coach need to be a good listener, so does the coachee. As a good coachee I found that actively listening to the questions gave me time to think and meant that we got to the heart of the ‘problem’ quicker.

Asking good questions

I made sure that if I didn’t understand that I would ask good questions of my coach for clarity.

Understanding the art of reflection

Too often, we jump in and agree actions. It is acceptable to ask for time to reflect and I did that. By that, I do not mean days and days, but a few minutes to mull things over works a treat. I kept a pen and journal handy to scribble as I reflected.

Showing emotions

Coaching is not a test, it is a supportive sounding board, and letting ‘stuff out’ can really help to get to the heart of an issue. Just remember that your coach is not a counsellor.  They will provide the questions…..and I knew that I had to provide my own answers no matter how hard this seemed at times!

Being honest

I often had to dig deep to find the courage to admit that sometimes I felt like a failure or was frustrated or angry. Your coach will ask you good questions to get to the root cause. I trusted that from there I would get clarity and find a resolution.

Being grateful for this fantastic opportunity

Although I made the investment in myself, I have always been grateful that I have invested in me.

Knowing that if it is possible in the world, it is possible for me

When you look around at the incredible things that others do for themselves and others, you know that things are possible. It’s important to know that even if you don’t know what’s going to come out of a session that ‘something’ will be possible.


People (businesses and organisations) that embrace a coaching mindset will ultimately reap the rewards and impact their bottom line. The coaching process is designed to bring out the best in people, with a focus on results. These results create people, like you and I, who will be able to:-

  • Be more effective and efficient
  • Have a higher day to day morale
  • Work better with others – setting good boundaries for improved relationships
  • Set goals, desires and intentions that are meaningful to us and our measure of success

What are your actions?

Now that you have read through the coaching mindset piece ask yourself:-

  • Do I have a coaching mindset?
  • What of these skills or strengths do I possess and which do I still need to work on?
  • What actions will I take?

And finally… “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The Empire Strikes Back

[i]Connor M & Pakora J 2007. Coaching & Mentoring at Work. Open UniversityPress, McGraw Hill Education, P47

My mission is to encourage and empower you to step into the wisdom of your heart and embrace self-love, self-worth and confidence so that you discover that all-important inner peace.