How to Transform Your Coaching Discussions

 In Coaching, Leadership, management, Rick Conlow

The quality of a coaching discussion sets the tone for how effective a coach becomes. The coach brings the expertise and the other person needs the knowledge or skill. Power is divided. Authority is accomplished. And roles are recognized. Most importantly, in the corporate world, the coach has all of the answers and dictates what has to be done and how. Right?

Now, I’m not even saying anyone in particular abuses this status. I’m just saying that whether we like it or not, or take advantage of it or not. The reality is that the coach and the “coachee” play varied roles in a two-part play. Too often the manager is dominant, and the employee is subservient. One is teaching, the other is learning. Also, one is explaining, the other is absorbing. One is preaching, the other is practicing. Why not do your coaching discussions differently?

How to Level Set Your Coaching Discussions

How to Transform Your Coaching DiscussionsSo, how do you level-set things when the scenario sets itself up to be imbalanced from the beginning? You make your coaching discussions-conversations. Above all, you do this by making them a dialogue, not a monologue. You fill them with curiosity and discovery. Think about it. In any situation where you’re trying to build common ground and establish a relationship, what do you do? You initiate conversation. You ask more questions and listen with empathy.

Well conveniently, that’s the simple solution for equalizing the coaching environment. Conversation creates mutuality. Mutuality encourages respect. Respect breeds trust. And trust forms relationships. Therefore, positive influence is the goal of the relationship.

Now, this sounds logical and linear. You might be asking yourself, “If it’s so easy, why don’t most coaches coach this way?” In my opinion, the reason is because it’s too obvious. We’d rather think that the most critical component to coaching is our skill level, IQ, personality, success, reputation, and experience. We want it to be all about us (most of the time). Yet, that’s the point, a coaching discussion can’t be all about you. If it is, most of your clients or employees will leave running for the hills. I know all of those things matter, but they aren’t the most important detail.

Certainly, the relationship is the essential ingredient. I’d like to compare it to some sort of pasta dish. All of the other elements are the spices that make the sauce what it becomes. However, at the end of the day, it’s still just sauce, if you don’t have the pasta (i.e., the relationship). Consequently, the dish doesn’t have substance without the staple ingredient. The same is true of a coaching discussion and the relationship.

Why a Coaching Discussion is so Important

How to Transform Your Coaching DiscussionsReview these three key reasons coaching discussion impact the caliber of a relationship.

First, the coach opens up the process for the employee. So the person thinks more independently to problem-solve his or her challenges. Hopefully doing it differently and for the better. The employee gives valuable input, too. After all, a coach won’t be there all the time.

Second, coaching discussions generate opportunities for newness. Think about it. If you (the coach) are the only one doing the talking, the teaching, the helping and the training – nothing new can be discovered. But, if the two of you make it a dialogue, you are bound to raise new ideas, you are forced to challenge old ways. Then you gain new perspectives, and you are allowed to dream of different options.

Third, the respect and trust mentioned above allows both people involved to talk honestly. This allows both try new things to perform at a higher level. Better choices are made because of commitment not compliance. This is what integrity based coaching discussions are all about. And, finally, according to Performance Coaching International, effective coaching discussions and conversations get better results.

Pulling It All Together

In summary, business educator Marshall Goldsmith says this about coaching discussions, “People will do something—including changing their behavior—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”

Also, do you want more information on the power of coaching? Go here: Why Coaching is the Secret Sauce of Leadership.

In addition, do you want help to ramp up your results as a leader, check out our Superstar Leadership online training.Working Hard to Become a Better Leader

Working Hard to Become a Better LeaderFinally, keep learning, read our: Unparalleled Leadership book.




Recommended Posts
Showing 2 comments
  • Tina McConnell

    Rick – I’m struggling with a couple of my direct reports. One says ‘yes’ to everything, but is unable to manage the schedule to satisfactorily support all the work. Another says “no” to everything that isn’t presented as a black and white request. One uses up PTO as soon as a full day is accumulated. I am a seasoned manager but find myself at a loss to coach any of them to a “happy medium” when it comes to the work we do (we are an IT provider). I am not typically a micro-manager, but am thinking this may be what I have to do. Do you have any posts that cover this type of management dilemma?

    • Rick Conlow

      Hi Tina:
      I appreciate the question. First, just to be sure, does each of the employees understand their roles, and subsequent expectations and goals for success? Are expectations/goals in writing? Are they updated on their technical training? Have either of them had any team training? How well does your team work together? What’s your company’s policy on handling poor performing employees? Have you discussed these performance issues with the employees? What happened? What leadership training have you attended lately? These are the kinds of questions I ask, when coaching leaders, to help understand the situation so I can be of assistance. I ask this because high performance HP, equals C (Competence-knowledge/skills) X C (Commitment-motivation/discipline/responsibility) X (Climate-working relationships/environment). Also, each employee is different in terms of their communication style, competence, experience etc. Yet, coaching can work for everyone over time. We need to be constructive and consistent. See this complimentary guide. ( See this Vlog for dealing with poor performance. ( I think these two resources will help.
      Thanks for reaching out.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

Have a question? Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Enroll today & receive the Superstar Leadership Performance Plan!

Superstar Leadership Blog

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Rick Conlow will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.


There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Rick Conlow will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.

Download your copy of How to Create a High Performance Team!