What are the 5 basic elements of a coaching session?

The beginning of any coaching interaction should begin with a clear purpose. The right problem-solving technique for one coaching client may be completely different from that of another coaching client. That's why it's so important to assess strengths and skill gaps. Working with the client to determine how to get from where they are now to where they want to be is a very individual process, and the leadership coach is in a unique position to help create that “road map”.

It is far from being a one-size-fits-all process, but it must be adapted to each person in the context of their work environment. Choosing the right problem-solving techniques can prevent a leader from getting “stuck” in the issues they're working on. This is where the rubber meets the road. Just as an expert pitching coach knows the specific elements that a particular pitcher must work on, the expert leadership coach can help the client define the specific actions that should be developed and practiced until they become natural.

For a customer, this can be communication. On the other hand, it can be delegation. The transformation processes used in leadership coaching are uniquely customized for the client and their particular needs. Without proven transformation processes, customer improvement can be short-lived.

When starting a coaching conversation, the coach observes from the sidelines and arouses their curiosity and amazement as they observe the client. Many coaches find it a little difficult to “establish the training agreement”, as it often feels like a choice between following the training flow or following the steps or indicators to establish a tangible result for the training session. If the client's goals aren't concrete or seem vague despite your efforts to gain clarity, there's a temptation to abandon the establishment of the coaching agreement entirely. During this process, the coach will help the client clarify their values, beliefs, feelings, perceptions and ideas, and will provide a safe space for them to identify their strengths, passions, knowledge and skills.

Leadership coaching emphasizes action and responsibility and provides leaders with a safe and stimulating environment in which to hone skills to improve communication, increase trust, manage change and resolve conflicts. When it comes to the structure of a coaching session, what basically makes up a session are these key elements. Most coaching clients (and their organizational leaders) have some idea of the skills the client needs to work on the most. However, they should improve behavior with the help of a coach who can ensure that they are practicing the right skill.

Base your training sessions on findings collected through a comprehensive quality control program, carried out with cutting-edge quality control software. And in that training session, the first key element you must have to have an effective training session structure is accountability. The coaching process is based on an interactive dialogue between the coach and the client; one that discovers a vision, a new idea or action of the client. But if you're in the process of creating the structure of your first coaching session with a new client and you haven't had any sessions with them, well, you have nothing to hold them accountable for.

The experienced coach knows how to go with the flow with the client and, at the same time, maintains a structure that ensures that the session is as effective as possible. The coaching flow allows you to have a more structured coaching conversation that lends itself to collaboration and productivity. Some coaches refer to the process as “scaffolding”: the “building” or the actual results will be built in partnership as slowly or as quickly as both of you experience, as needed. Their views should serve as the basis for subsequent training to continue driving improvements, making sessions increasingly relevant.


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