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  • Intro to Part II - Evolving as a Coach 
  • Problem Solving and Collaboration
  • CoachVille Live Events

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Friday, October 17, 2003

Today’s Coach
Evolving as a Coach (And As a Person) – Part II

In our last issue of Today’s Coach, we introduced the first in a series of dialogues about Masterful Coaching.  Traditionally, coaching has focused primarily on helping the client get what they want through support, problem solving, and accountability. This series suggests that truly masterful coaching is about CAUSING problems for your client.

Part I featured beginning level coaching, where coaches focus on asking questions and listening for issues.  It's all about creating action plans and accountability structures to get to that goal.  The emphasis here is often exclusively on problem solving.  I call this “pavlovian puppy” coaching.  Symptoms of “pavlovian puppy” coaching include playing the role of coach, trying hard to coach, feeling pressure to add value and straining to listen.

In the second part of our series, we are going to explore the essential elements in developing a collaborative coaching style, the intermediate level of coaching.

As always, we’d love to hear what you have to say.  Please send your letters to the editor to

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Looking for the Source of the Problem and Collaborating to Solve it 

Near the end of my first year as a professional coach, I realized I was in big trouble.  I was doing well financially—I had 20 full paying clients and new clients coming in on a regular basis.  So you’d think it was perfect, right?  Wrong!  I was totally emotionally drained!  The stress of taking on my client’s problems and feeling the pressure to solve them was more than I could take.  When the opportunity for a lucrative, part time consulting contract came my way, I jumped on it and put my dreams of being a full time coach on hold. It was only when I went back to coaching part time, with a few of my favorite clients, that I discovered collaborative coaching.

Collaborative coaching can take years to master and is incredibly rewarding for the coach and equally valuable to the client.  There are three essential factors in becoming a collaborative coach.  The first is recognizing the difference between leading questions and provocative conversations. Leading questions push the client to where the coach feels most comfortable going, and are all about the coach’s agenda.  Provocative conversations are powerful because they reveal agendas, especially hidden ones and subtle truths about situations.  Provocative coaching is about listening very deeply and perceptively to what the client is saying and not saying

The second factor in collaborative coaching is sharing what moves the conversation forward vs. sharing what reinforces the coach’s ability to problem solve.  Essentially, in a collaborative coaching relationship, a dialogue of two minds exists between coach and client.  This can only work when there is a true partnership between the two. “Share what is there” is when you bring up something you are sensing or feeling about a situation—an inkling, an intuition, or a random thought that seems to come from nowhere.

When a coach shares what is there, he is focused on what is best for moving the conversation, and the relationship, forward.  In contrast, when a coach is burdened with the pressure to prove himself or add value, he often shares what will provide an opportunity for him to create a solution—a tool, strategy, or approach that is a band-aid, dealing with a surface level issue. 

During this time, the coach is discovering the fine balance between asking questions, clarifying, sharing observations, and making recommendations.  “Sharing what is there” is just one of the 15 Coaching Proficiencies in the CoachVille Coaching System.

Collaboration removes the need for a coach to be a problem solver.  This sets the stage for the third factor of collaborative coaching--reworking the client goal vs. taking the client goal at face value.  When a coach is quick to focus on problem solving, he moves straight to solutions, never stopping to examine whether the goal is right for the client in the first place.  Clients often have important goals or extremely difficult challenges at play, and yet, they frequently don’t have the perspective to evaluate if the goal is truly the right focus for them. 

In my experience, there are many situations where a client wants to work on a goal that is not perfect for them.  Often a client will have a goal that comes from conditioning from the past or subtle manipulation by another person. It’s something they think they should do.  But upon deeper exploration, it comes to light that there’s a much more powerful, profound goal they’d love to play for. Often, this involves an almost forgotten dream they haven’t had the courage to express.  (Encouraging the client to go for that big dream is one of those big problems we’ll talk about in Masterful Coaching.) 

In the next edition of Today’s Coach, we will expand on the distinction between problem solving and collaborating.

CoachVille Live Events...
Learn more... quickly!

Small Business Coaching Intensive 

Coming to...
Atlanta, GA, October 24 and 25 
San Francisco, CA  November 21 and 22

Small businesses make up a very large percentage of all businesses and the owners of these businesses need your help.  In two days of information packed interactive learning, you will learn the 15 areas from which business owners are likely to hire you and the 15 Small Business Proficiencies that will position you as an expert with these clients.  We will also show you how to market to the 15 entry points and build a website that connects your menu of services with the business situations your service will solve.

For more information, visit

To register, go to and search for 'class' number 2170.

Coaching Springboard Intensive

Coming to...
New Jersey, NJ, October 24 and 25
Toronto, ON, November 21and 22 

This Intensive is for anyone who is relatively new to coaching, interested in using coaching skills in their current profession, wants to bring coaching skills into their company, or interested in getting a quick start in the business.  In this interactive 2 day Intensive, we will introduce you to the fundamentals and help you get your arms around the whole coaching process.

For more information, visit

To register, go to and search for 'class' number 2180.

Full Practice Marketing Intensive 

Coming to...
Boston, MA, October 31 and November 1
Austin, TX , December 12 and 13 

If you are ready to fill your practice, we are ready to help. This 2 day Intensive is a full-spectrum immersion weekend for any coach who wants to learn what waorks and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing and how to get more and better-paying clients.  We will help you hone in on what it is you really do for your clients and show you how to communicate it in an effective way that attracts people to you – both clients and raving fans,  who refer others to you.  And that, in the end, is what marketing is all about.

For more information, visit 

To register, go to and search for 'class' number 2060.

Million Dollar Practice 

Coming to...
New York, NY, November 7 and 8

If you are an intermediate to advanced coach and are wondering whether the dream of having a balanced life and a dynamic coaching practice is even possible anymore, because of the all consuming demands of running the practice-finances, sales, marketing, administrative duties-this Intensive is for you.  In this unique training, you will be given strategies that you can put to use to make more profit in less time, and help you build the life you’ve always wanted.

For more information, visit

To register, go to and search for 'class' number 2185.

Coming to...
Chicago, IL, November 14 and 15
San Diego, CA, December 5 and 6 

If you’ve ever had a personal problem that you just couldn’t solve or an issue with someone that you couldn’t resolve, you may have wondered:  “What is REALLY going on here?”  The answer lies in what we call The Core Dynamics of Common Problemssm.  The Absence of You event = the absence of core dynamics at play in your life.  In this seminar, we go deeply into these dynamics, which are the basis of virtually all human problems.  You will learn how to identify the behaviors and begin to absence them.  You will also learn about conflicting intentions and how they dreain your energy.  This is a challenging and soul-searching experience.  While it’s extremely useful for people who coach others, that is not the focus.  The focus in this program is on YOU. 

For more information, visit

To register, go to and search for 'class' number 2122.