This question is often the opening gambit of anyone who is selling a service, and a clear understanding of the answer is key for the person doing the buying, especially when what they’re buying is executive coaching.
Understanding what result an intervention might have and how it could work is half the trick of it actually working; our motivation increases when a solution seems credible and the source trustworthy. “What can you do for me?” is therefore an essential question for executive coaching clients to ask of those who might coach them, and potentially a deep, rich one. Not all coaches are willing to spend time talking about what they do and prefer to focus immediately on the client and their issue, but it seems reasonable to me to explain as much as possible to people who might buy me. I do this primarily through a Discovery Call. It’s a no commitments phone call where we can get to know each other a bit and, most importantly, you can decide if I’m someone you want to work with. Your best way of doing that is to ask me questions! Transparency builds credibility and trust and so I also share Discovery Call Guidelines with would-be clients beforehand. That way you’ll know what to expect during our call.
Relieved to have explained their situation, people are often less keen to ask questions of me. This is partly due to the unnecessary air of mystery which surrounds coaching, perpetuated by those coaches whose entire focus is on “fixing you”. The success of executive coaching depends on the quality of the relationship and the approach taken by the coach. When asked, I explain that my approach is best described as “whole person centred”. Whilst your starting point may be a situation relating to your career or your current role, your performance at work and what you are trying to achieve there, you bring your whole person to work. It is very difficult to completely compartmentalise and keep home and work entirely separate. In fact it’s damaging to do so; it short changes both you and your organisation. My whole person approach therefore means that I’m interested in your other roles as well as your work one, and in the relationships that you have, your responsibilities, your interests and what enthuses you, and how all of that makes up the whole you.
The principle of being person-centred means that you the person – rather than the solutions you need or the problems you might be experiencing – are at the centre of my work. It also means that I believe you have within you the resources to make the decisions you want to make and that the authority to make those decisions is yours not mine. Some coaches, me included, will talk to their clients about parity in the coach/client relationship. For a person centred coach this means never thinking I know you better than you do, or assuming that I know which problems need to be solved. Carl Rogers started describing person-centredness over 50 years ago, and you can read more about this philosophy on the website of the Association for the Development of the Person-Centered Approach.
When I am asked what I can do for someone, I respond in two ways. I describe the kinds of outcomes that can result from whole person centred executive coaching – greater clarity about what matters and a clearer way forwards particularly with regard to your current and future jobs. You’ll also benefit from greater self-awareness and compassion, and an increased ability to deal with particular situations. But I also set out my stall in terms of how I will help you explore the nature of your roles and relationships. Spotting the patterns which repeat, I might reflect back to you behaviours which you are unaware of and challenge your thinking about a situation. I do this without judgement or other interest – after all, I’m not your line manager, Chair, or life partner! This creates a safe and trusting space in which you can work.
If you have yet to experience the benefits of a whole person centred executive coaching approach, and want to maximise what you’re getting out of life and work, book a Discovery Call with me and find out what could be around the corner.
And finally, if you’d like to know a little bit about how I tick, here’s a snippet from my life. This morning I woke up with Utah Saints playing on my internal soundtrack. Does that happen to you, do you wake with a song in your head? This one indirectly prompted this blog article, since the song in question was What Can You Do For Me? Released 30 years ago (cue nostalgic moment and incredulity, where did those years go?) and featuring Annie Lennox, it had me at hello and reminds me now of the joie de vivre of my earlier years.