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The undertaking of any project involves a bit of a risk. What if you run into an insurmountable roadblock or what if you botch it up and make it worse? Here’s the bad news: you can’t avoid the failure-point in a project. But there’s good news: reaching a failure-point still means progress.

The deeper question: How can you design your work so that you can keep going the face of setbacks?

The post The secret of progress. appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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This is the second practice question in our series dedicated to preparing for the International Coach Federation’s Coach Knowledge Assessment. Consider the question below, which answer seems to be aligned with the expectations of a life coach, and why. Then look at the explanation that follows.

Cycle of Addictions Question

A potential client contacts the coach. In an introductory interview, the client tells the coach that they want coaching to work on preparing for a possible promotion while developing a better understand why they are in a cycle of addiction that is getting in the way of their career development. It is best for the coach:

A. To ask further powerful questions to help the client develop measurable outcomes for the entire coaching arrangement.

B. To inform the client that understanding and addressing a cycle of addiction is the work of appropriately trained counselors.

C. To suggest that the coach and client primarily focus on earning the promotion and career development while visiting the status of the client’s addiction from time to time.

D. To ask clarifying questions to determine if the type of addiction fall under the expertise of the coach. If it does, the coach can then inform the client that they can use the coaching to address both concerns.

Explanation

This question is helpful in determining if the coach understands the difference between coaching and counseling. The ICF guidelines related to this question are found under Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards:

  • “Clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions.”
  • “Refers client to another support professional as needed, knowing when this is needed and the available resources.”

A. To ask further powerful questions to help the client develop measurable outcomes for the entire coaching arrangement.

This question sounds like great coaching! This is what makes it misleading. When reading through possible answers in the CKA, it is critical to determine what is being asked and which Core Competencies apply to the given question. Here, powerful questions are not needed, since the coach needs to first clarify the difference between coaching and counseling.

B. To inform the client that understanding and addressing a cycle of addiction is the work of appropriately trained counselors.

This is the correct answer, even if it is not 100% complete. Coaches must explain how coaching can and cannot help their clients. If a potential client expresses the desire to work with a coach in order to address an addition or a similar area of brokenness, the coach must directly inform the client of the work of a coach as opposed to the work of a counselor. What is missing from this answer is the need to refer a client to an appropriate support professional. Also, there are times when a coach may support a client who is concurrently undergoing therapy, but that is not an option in the answer options.

C. To suggest that the coach and client primarily focus on earning the promotion and career development while visiting the status of the client’s addiction from time to time.

This answer option must be read to the end. The first portion of the question could be a possible option for this coach and client IF AND ONLY IF the client as already demonstrated that they are undergoing therapy for their addiction. The key element that makes this question a breach of coaching ethics is the fact that the answer is incomplete and, because of the ambiguity, makes it appear that the coach will be partially addressing the addiction through “visiting its status.”

D. To ask clarifying questions to determine if the type of addiction fall under the expertise of the coach. If it does, the coach can then inform the client that they can use the coaching to address both concerns.

This option must be rejected in that it states that coaching can address counseling as long as the coach has the appropriate training. Even if a coach were also a licensed addictions counselor, the addiction-oriented work would not be addressed through coaching but rather through counseling and therapy. In this way, the end of the possible answer is what makes it clear that the coach would be crossing the lines of coaching ethics.

If you would like further support in pursuing your credential through the International Coach Federation, consider joining one of our training programs. Also, if you are about to take the ICF’s Coach Knowledge Assessment, click this link for more practice questions and see this blog post for further support.

The post CKA Question: A Client Asks for Career and Addictions Coaching appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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We are starting a new series of blog posts focused on practice questions designed to help coaches prepare for the International Coach Federation’s Coach Knowledge Assessment. This first question measures a coach’s awareness of Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards. This is the first of the ICF’s Core Competencies.

Consider the question and how you would answer before reviewing the question and answer explanation. Please leave your comments and questions below!

Coach-Client-Sponsor Interaction Question

You are coaching a student in college whose parents are paying for the coaching services. The parents are concerned that the student is getting the most out of the services. Because of this, they email you to check in on how well the student is doing after 5 sessions of coaching. How should you as a coach respond?

A. The coach should offer to setup a review session with the student’s parents to discuss the progress of the coaching because the parents are the paying client.

B. The coach should directly let the parents know that it is not their business what the student and coach work on together.

C. The coach should review the confidentiality terms of the contract the parents signed and encourage the parents to reach out to their child.

D. The coach should let the client know that the student will need to set up a joint session between the coach and parents.

Explanation Question

This question measures the coach’s awareness of the ICF Core Competency of Ethics and Standards concerning contracts. This question could be phrased in many different ways. Consider the following formula:

Sponsor hires Coach to coach Client. Sponsor seeks confidential information on Client. How should the Coach respond?

The Sponsor could be an employer, executive, parent, etc.; however, the same principles apply. Keep in mind that the Sponsor may be considered the “customer,” but the ICF guidelines specify that the client, the person being coached, is the one the coach is serving. A coach’s contract and marketing should reflect this.

Answers

Answer A: The coach should offer to setup a review session with the student’s parents to discuss the progress of the coaching because the parents are the paying client.

Answer A has the ring of “good service” to it. The warning sign on it is that the coach is stepping into the role of mediator between the client and the sponsor. This is not the purpose of the coaching arrangement, and by taking this action the coach will be putting the client in a position where their confidential coaching experience is more likely to be divulged to the sponsors.

Answer B: The coach should directly let the parents know that it is not their business what the student and coach work on together.

Answer B is our good answer. This answer sums up the reality of the situation for the sponsors of the client. However, this is not the best answer because it does not reflect an extra layer of professionalism which Answer C will demonstrate.

Answer C: The coach should review the confidentiality terms of the contract the parents signed and encourage the parents to reach out to their child.

Answer C is the best answer provided. It addresses how the confidentiality is something the Sponsor agreed to by pointing to the contract. This helps the conversation to stay more professional and objective. The coach demonstrates “Customer Care” by suggesting the most reasonable option for the Sponsor: to contact the client themselves to arrange this conversation.

Answer D: The coach should let the client know that the client will need to set up a joint session between the coach and parents.

Answer D is similar to Answer A in that it pictures the coach as the bridge between the Sponsor and the Client. This answer is the worst of the answers. It demonstrates that the Coach and the Sponsor have been discussing the client’s situation to an unknown degree. The client’s confidence in the coaching confidentiality will now be much lower than before.

If you are interested in more practice questions to use in preparation for the ICF’s Coach Knowledge Assessment, click this link.

The post How to Manage Coach-Client-Sponsor Interaction by ICF Standards appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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Body Language and Confidence

I had horrible body language when I was a kid. Every day I hear, “Stop slouching!” from my parents and teachers. The truth is, when I was in school I was almost always withdrawn into myself. I didn’t feel comfortable in the classroom, and I made an easy target for bullying.

Thankfully, I grew past those experiences. I took a martial arts class. I learned how to lead in some circles. And I tended to be more sociable in high school. I still struggled with confidence, and I probably slouched all the way through graduation.

The Power of Body Language

Before we look at the impact body language can have on coaching, watch this video from professor Amy Cuddy.

You can find more of professor Cuddy’s work in her book, Presence.

Body Language and Coaching

We coach trainers live for those moments where we help a student coach feel a bit uncomfortable. We encourage guided peer coaching, student coaches to lead a session demo, and in-depth reviews of recorded sessions with the trainer. All of these periods of discomfort lead to more awareness, learning and confidence.

As a trainer, I notice how my student coaches tend to withdraw into themselves when they are unsure how to move a conversation forward. As professor Amy Cuddy’s talk highlights, body language and confidence feed off one another. This is particularly true in a session. The more aware we are of our physical coaching presence, the more confidence we can offer our clients. When we have a healthy level of confidence, we offer a stronger sense of safety to our clients leading the client to become more open.

Here are some exercises you can use to develop your healthy coaching presence:

  • Review a video-recorded session. If you do not already record sessions from time to time, begin this practice on at least a monthly basis with your client’s permission. Consider how your body language is tied to your confidence. Notice any changes in your body language when you seem stuck to find a question.
  • On your next coaching session, consider your physical presence. What impact does your physical presence have on your conversation with your client?
  • Spend a private two minutes in a “power pose” before starting a session with a new or higher level client.
  • Take note of your client’s body language. Consider adjusting your own in order to moderately align with their.
  • If your client is in a very powerless position, consider coaching around their body language.
Wrap-up Question

What impact would more powerful body language have on your coaching?

The post How Does Your Body Language Influence Your Coaching appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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Question: How do I coach long-term clients?

When a coaching engagement goes exceptionally well, clients sometimes hire us for a longer engagement. Some coaches can even find themselves coaching the same individual for 2 or more years. Coaches who begin working with long-term clients sometimes ask:

How do I make sure my coaching stays fresh and relevant for a client on a long-term contract?

Answer: Create 3-6 months “Coach-Client Alliance” objectives:

When working with long-term clients, take time to co-create shorter term “Alliance Objectives.” Clients who want to tackle multiple objectives in the coaching benefit from this modular approach. If a client comes to the table with 10 different objectives for coaching, it is best for the coach to help the client narrow  things down to a primary focus for a 3-6 period. Co-create new 3-6 month objectives as previous ones are completed.

Here is a step by step process:

1. In an early session, establish what the client would like to achieve through the coaching. Keep this to a 3-6 month timeframe.

2. Identify how they will know that the coaching is helpful/successful for that time period and objective. Ask your client what they would like to see at the end of the timeframe.

3. Make note of the current Alliance Objective. Bring the Alliance Objective up from time to time in the coaching. Ask your client how their progress is lining up with their expectations that were set in the Alliance Objective.

4. Schedule a session at the 3-6 month point to assess the Alliance Objective and collaborate on any potential new objectives.

This process helps create more of the professional contract expectations that a coach has with standard-length clients. Because of this, clients know why they are being coaching sensing progress through the coaching journey.

For more training and coaching insights, consider the Academic Life Coaching blog or one of the Coach Training EDU programs.

The post How to Coach Long-Term Clients appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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Providing Guidance with Empowerment Where Does College Advising Stand Today?

Over the past half century research has demonstrated the effectiveness of academic advising as a key factor in promoting student retention. However, it still remains a challenge for colleges to maintain a solid academic advisory team during times of financial challenge. The research proves the value of advising, but what makes some teams more effective than others?

Ever since the late 60’s and early 70’s there has been contention between the various types of academic advising. There are 3 primary categories of academic advising: Prescriptive, Intrusive and Developmental (Click the link here for a quick Wikipedia on the three categories). While each form of advising has it’s place and function, the past 50 years have seen more research supporting and advocating a mix between Developmental and Intrusive Advising.

As Academic Life Coaches, following the standards of the International Coach Federation, it is our dream and passion to see more colleges embrace a developmental approach of advising that also combines the purposeful partnership found in insight-driven intrusive advising. Ultimately, we see the relationship between a coach and a client, or an advisor and a student, to be the most critical element in making an academic guidance arrangement successful – and research from college advising supports this belief. This page explores the connections between the research of Academic Advising, particularly Developmental Advising, and the skills and practices of Academic Life Coaching.

Wearing Two Hats: College Advisor and College Coach The Work of a College Advisor

When we think of traditional advising, we tend to imagine students entering an office on academic probation being told what needs to change before failing out of school. Oftentimes, especially for students, there is an expectation that the advisor is there to solve the student’s problems. In many ways, this mindset of advising creates confusion around who is really responsible for student success. This notion, that the advisor’s primary role is to dispense advice, is embedded into the very name of academic advisor.

Along with confusion between simply offering advice and cultivating student development, many advisors have to balance a variety of responsibilities. Most academic advising teams must facilitate intake of new students, alignment of degree plans and the data entry process for those plans. Ideally, this work is combined with the work of a developmental academic advisor; however, there is systematic confusion about the most important work of a college advisor – the work that truly pushes those retention numbers up.

The most effective work of an advisor happens when they are less focused on delivering advice, and more focused on partnering with their students to learn through the student’s challenges together. This is the work of a College Coach.

The Work of a College Coach

When applying the skills of an Academic Life Coach (ALC), a College Coach is working as a developmental advisor. College coaches work hard to build a relationship between student and advisor that signals a mutual partnership instead of a hierarchical arrangement. The focus of this relationship is to provide meaningful, challenging yet warm conversations. These conversations help a student not only deal with academic challenges, but also non-academic ones which also have a bearing on the student’s college experience.

When training advisors on ALC skills, we often discuss how and when to use the coaching process with students. Because of the misunderstanding many students have concerning a College Advisor’s responsibility, we make a habit of letting our students know when we are serving as a traditional advisor (in this case, a prescriptive advisor) and when we are stepping into the role of a college coach (developmental advising). This is meant to be done literally, as a coach speaks with a student letting them know when they are simply advising (advice giving) and providing coaching. This process helps to further build a partnership between student and coach.

Ultimately, the college coach believes the student is capable and willing to pursue his or her educational goals. Academic Life Coaching provides an excellent model for helping students embrace their vision for college while building positive, realistic plans for how to accomplish their goals.

See this article for more information on what skills a Developmental College Advisor can use from Academic Life Coaching. See this page for more information on Academic Life Coach Training.

The post College Advisors as Developmental College Coaches appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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Combining Developmental Advising with Academic Coaching

We have long recognized the value of academic advising, and how it can help college students stay on target and earn their degrees. Research has shown that advisors who focus on a warm, caring alliances with their students promote retention. This holistic, relationship-focused approach is known as Developmental Advising (read more), which has existed as an idea for about 50 years now.

However, many college advisors still need further support from administration to practice a solid, developmental approach. This means that advising teams, administrators and even students need to be on the same page with what are the core skills of a Developmental approach.

Students need advisors who are ready to help them not only know what they ought to do, but how they can build the personal motivation to accomplish their goals. While many expect Advisors to simply advise, the most effective advising teams combine traditional advising with the skills found in the world of Academic Life Coaching.

Coaching Foundations for Developmental Advising

The following academic life coaching skills are critical for college advisors and academic advising teams who are interested in developing a stronger developmental approach.

Active Listening Versus Problem Solving

One of the most important skills of a life coach is not based on what the coach is saying, but how well the coach is listening to their client or student. Most student experience with adults is based on a simple transaction: Here is the problem. Here is the solution. This approach is related to a heavy reliance on prescriptive advising – where students go into an advisor’s office in a similar way as patients who approach their doctor expecting straightforward solutions, treatment and medication.

Coaching truly focuses on the development of the student, and not on transactional problem solving. When a student and a coach meet together, the coach listens to the situation the student is in, and allows the student to constructively “unpack” the challenge with their coach.

This patient, empathetic approach to listening also allows a student to recognize that their coach or advisor genuinely cares about them. Ultimately, this is one of the core desires of a student: to be treated as if they and their situation matters. This creates a more enjoyable memory of the experience for the student, which in turn promotes return visits to their coach or advisor.

From this point, the conversation is moved forward by the coach reflecting on the student’s own words they have used. This attention to listening makes it clear that the coach or advisor wants to hear things from the student’s perspective. The coach recognizes that the student’s take on the situation is a huge part of identifying custom-made, student-focused solutions.

Powerful Questions Versus Telling

The conversation between a college coach or developmental college advisor is also facilitated through powerful questions. Instead of taking in all the relevant information in order to make a diagnosis of the situation and a logical prescription, the coach helps the client or student recognize deeper issues through asking questions. These are not just form-questions that are provided through training, but custom-made questions that use the very words that the student has been using.

A coach recognizes that their client will often know things they ought to be doing. Instead of simply reminding them of those things, the coach’s focus on asking powerful questions allows the student to think about their decisions more effectively.

What we know about decision-making, is that the process is not logical. Instead, decision making is often performed through a filter of biases, perspectives and readily available,  emotionally-charged thoughts. This filter allows people to make very fast decisions based less on logic, and more on intuition and the person’s present emotional state. When coaches use powerful questions, they are opening the door for their students to take more time to make logical and more meaningful decisions.

Using Agenda Setting to Create Effective Action

Active listening and powerful questions are important parts of the coach-student conversation. Agenda setting allows that conversation to become a productive journey for the student.

Some misunderstand life coaching as a conversational approach that simply follows the client wherever they would like to go in the moment. However, when a student walks into an advisor’s office, they have specific needs that must be addressed. The coaching skill of Agenda Setting allows a coach or advisor to orientate the conversation towards what is most important for the student.

Making agenda setting a habit as an advisor has two benefits. For one, it allows an advisor to know if the conversation needs to stay in a prescriptive mode to best answer questions a student may have about logistical issues common to the college process. The other benefit is that the advisor is able to identify underlying challenges that are hiding under what is on top of the student’s mind. It is this second benefit that leads to more effective developmental sessions.

For instance, if a student says that she wants to talk about her issue with procrastination, the coach or advisor will better serve that student by asking questions such as “What makes procrastination the most important thing to talk about today?” or “Where do you find yourself challenged with procrastination most?” This allows a student to clarify why the topic is important for today’s 20-30 minute conversation. It also enables an advisor to ask more powerful questions that are tailored to the student’s specific situation.

Balancing Roles with Direct Communication

While the field of academic advising is full of misunderstanding – many students and even administrators may expect advisors to primarily offer advice – the fact is that misunderstand can be supported or alleviated by the advisor him or herself.

There are times an advisor is expected to lead a student through an intake form, a degree mapping process or a remedial study skills tool. During these times, it is helpful for the advisor who would like to have a developmental approach to make it clear that the more prescriptive tasks are only a part of what he or she offers as an advisor. In contrast, when there is an opportunity to dig into the root causes of a challenge and to develop a stronger trust and alliance with a student, it is helpful for an advisor to let the student know that this is a different approach that they are using.

If an advisor feels as if he or she is wearing multiple hats in their work, then it is best to let the student know which hat they are wearing and what to expect from the conversation. The International Coach Federation calls this moment of clearly addressing the change in the conversations “Direct Communication.” It is a helpful approach, because it allows the student and advisor to recognize new boundaries for the conversation and relationship. As the advisor let’s a student know that they are stepping into a developmental or coaching approach, the student can recognize why things have changed, and they are less likely to feel disoriented when an advisor starts asking more open-ended powerful questions while practicing active listening.

How to Practice Coaching Skills as an Advisor

Many advisors desire to have a more developmental approach. However, due to organizational limitations or time constraints, they find it very difficult to apply the foundational skills of an Academic Life Coach to their work.

See this page for more information on Academic Life Coach Training.

The post What Is the Coaching Foundation for Developmental Advising appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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Lost in Conversation

In every story that has woods, the main characters get lost. The same holds true in other works of fiction such as Chekhov’s gun, in suspense stories, and even Amish buggy accidents in conservative romance novels. Great coaching sessions also tend to stray a bit away from the path. The client may forget the original intentions of the agenda and simply get lost in exploration. When you notice this, it is your job as a coach to them make the most of the direction of coaching.

Some of the most memorable conversations we have in life are between friends and family where we completely lose our way. There is something comforting and amazing about forgetting the original topic, while we enjoy each other’s company. Some believe that it is best to allow a client to have this type of open exploration in coaching sessions. The feeling is that the more structure, the less value.

However, the critical question then becomes “What’s the point of the coaching?”. Did the client, or client’s family, pay for enjoyable conversations or life-changing conversations?

The Client’s Direction of Coaching Investment

Coaching works best when the coach and client are fully partnered in the process. This means the coach doesn’t assume what the client would like to discuss in a session. Instead, a coach makes sure to help the client nail down a solid session agenda. This partnership also means that the coach doesn’t simply drive the conversation forward. The goal of coaching is not to get a basic list of actions the client should take. The goal of coaching is to help the client deepen her or his understanding of the challenges she or he is facing. This makes whatever action steps the coaching brings up stronger and more effective.

So, what happens when the client changes focus in the middle of the session? What if there seems to be a clearly more significant agenda just under the surface? Sometimes, it is only seen until the coach and client spend 10-15 minutes discussing the surface agenda. Also, what if great action steps come up as the session is just getting started?

Changing the Direction of Coaching Agendas

In each of the cases above, the value of partnership is the guiding light for the session direction.

Different Direction 

In situations where a client wants to take a different direction mid-session, a good idea to keep in mind as a coach is that you have two clients to represent in that moment. Client A was the one who started the session with the early agenda. Client B is the one realizing that there is an alternative direction possible. Instead of just following Client B, or demanding that Client A take back over, allow the two clients to work it out. Simply ask your client something like, “At the beginning of the session you wanted to discuss ____. It sounds like this might be a new direction we might take this session. Which direction would you like to focus on with the rest of our time today?”

Deeper Issue

When a solid agenda is set and coaching begins, oftentimes, the coaching may dig up an even deeper topic for the client than originally anticipated. In these cases, it is important for the coach to embrace the role of a partner. Offer a direct communication and question, such as: “This sound like a much bigger topic that what we started out with. If we could only focus on one of these, which topic would you like to focus on with our time?” Offer this type of communication in a way that is tailored to the client’s language.

Early Action

Five minutes into setting the agenda and an obviously amazing action step and plan are able to be put into place. What should a coach and client do with the remaining time in a session? There are a few different directions to go, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the coach should not assume which direction a client would like to go. Perhaps, the client would like to jump off right then and there and get right into her or his action step. Maybe the client would like to begin a new agenda that she or he could think about for the next week. Or maybe the client would just like to go deeper with the coach on the action steps and plans that just came up. The simplest way to discover what direction to go is to simply ask the client an open-ended question to help set the stage for the rest of the session.

You and your client should enjoy the exploration through the woods. As you journey together, return to agenda setting and make sure they get the most out of their investment.

The post How to Adjust the Direction of Coaching Sessions appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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There are many different styles to coaching. Some coaches focus on corporate settings, where outcomes are expected to follow a format somewhat similar to consulting outcomes. Other coaches dislike nearly any kind of structure, in the hopes of providing more freedom of exploration for the client. With this being the case, coaches have many perspectives to learn from and approaches they can test out.

Always Room to Improve

Ever since I started coaching, I have been growing. I can still vividly remember my first session I ever had. It was absolutely terrible. I was so bad that my practice client literally hung up on me. I appreciate that memory, as embarrassing as it was, because it’s a good story. If I can learn to become a master coach, anyone can learn to become a master coach. This is why I believe it’s important for new coaches to start practicing right as they get into training – I want them to share in the joys of feedback. As every coach experiences, there is always something more to learn.

During the process of earning my certifications with the International Coach Federation, I received very helpful feedback on my Agenda Setting, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time.

Early in my coaching experience, I felt that focusing too much on Agenda Setting prevented the client from having an ability to fully express themselves. I thought the agenda caged the client. However, my Mentor Coach helped me see things from a new perspective:

Agenda Setting Promotes Freedom

At first, my opinion was that structured agenda setting was more of a checkbox that needed to be marked off by the ICF, in order to pass certification. I didn’t see it as something that was really helping the client. My mentor coach’s perspective was that spending extra time digging into the agenda would actually provide more value for the client. Also, helping a client voice a deeper, more specific outcome of the session provided more freedom in exploration. These areas of free exploration were highly relevant to the client.

After practicing agenda setting this way, I came to the realization that the more specific an agenda and outcome, the more freedom a coach has in exploring new territory. When a client has let you know what areas they are most interested in exploring, and, generally, what they are looking for by the end of the session, it is much easier for both the coach and the client to know that this exploration is relevant to the client’s growth and development.

How to Use Structure to Make Freedom

So, for more freedom in your coaching, begin a session with your student or client with this structure:

  1. Ask the client what they want – The agenda structure doesn’t start with what the coach wants, but with what the client wants. Why are they paying you as a coach today? What makes their investment in you worthwhile? You and the client can both uncover this information by asking what the client would like to discuss for today’s session.
  2. Probe deeper under the surface agenda – Coaching can always go deeper. So make sure to ask at least 2-3 questions that probe into why this topic is so important to them. Ask what difference it will make to discuss it. And help them narrow things down to what is most helpful.
  3. Help the client voice their practical takeaway – Next, help the client explain what type of ending they would like to experience once the coaching journey comes to an close. Do they want a plan? Do they want a new perspective? Do they need to develop a better vision for the future? The coach cannot know the question to these questions on their own. It’s always best to ask the client what practical takeaway they would like from each session.
  4. Always be willing to reflect and adjust – As the coaching session moves forward, if a client seems to need or want to go another direction, allow the client to make this choice with him or herself. Ask, “At the beginning of the session you wanted to accomplish _____ with our time. How important is this new direction in comparison to what you wanted at the beginning?”

The post How Agenda Setting Provides More Exploration through Structure appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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“Measures of Success in Agenda Setting” has to be one of the most thrilling blog titles to date… Joking aside, the title is here intentionally. In the International Coach Federation’s expectations for higher level coaching, there is a great deal of focus on making sure coaching session agendas have solid measures of success. But how do coaches find those elusive measures of success?

Agenda Topic vs. Outcome

I am someone particularly qualified to talk about this topic since I spent about 2 years in the Jungle of Agenda Setting before making this discovery: There is actually a difference between an Agenda Topic and Agenda Outcome. The story is that the organization I was coaching under used a variation of the GROWTH model of coaching sessions. In this model (as well as most other coaching models), there was a distinction made between identifying the topic the client would like to talk about and what he or she was wanting from the call – the outcome. Without understanding the distinction, I gave it a try on my first few coaching sessions:

  • Coach – “Hey Client! What would you like to talk about today?”
  • Client – “I would like to talk about how to study better.”
  • Coach – “What would you like to take away from our session?”
  • Client – “…I would…I would like have a conversation about how to study better.”
  • Coach – “Oh…yeah…you just said that didn’t you.”
  • Client – (“Um…who is this guy and why is he coaching me”)

Such riveting conversations those were! Clearly, after a few tries, I realized one of two things was happening:

  1. Something was wrong with my understanding of Topic and Outcome. OR
  2. Something was wrong with the model.

I went with the most obvious reason: B. Clearly something was wrong with the model, and it took two years of experience to realize that something was just not right about my agenda setting leading me back to the original question: “What is the difference between Topic and Outcome?” One stormy night in my jungle of confusion, lightning struck my brain and I finally got it. So with all the over-dramatic buildup out of the way, here is the basic distinction:

  • Agenda Topic – This is the category the client would like to talk about. The deeper a coach goes into meaning with the topic, the better.
  • Agenda Outcome – This is the helpful/practical thing the client would like to have in hand after talking about the topic with the coach. The more a coach helps a client make this outcome measurable, the better.
Coaching for Measures of Success

Here is an example of topic vs. outcome:

Topic: The client would like to know how to prepare for her college application. After the coach asks 2-3 questions about the importance and biggest challenges associated with this topic, the client identifies that she needs to better prepare for the essay writing process in college applications. So the topic for this session is: “Preparing for College Application Essays”

Outcome: How will we know this conversation is helpful? That’s the question, or at least literally one question a coach might ask here. The outcome for this topic could be: “I want to identify when to start.” “I need to have a system in place to make sure the essays are strong enough.” “I want a plan for when to have each batch of 10 essays done for the 30 applications.” Or any number of other outcomes that the coach and client may settle on.

The important thing is this: The coach helps the client identify a relevant topic to talk about, then the coach helps the client decide of a practical outcome to target. When a session has a clear outcome, it will have a client-created measures of success: “I need _____ by the end of this session.”

Making Measures of Success More Measurable

It is a firm belief of those who work with Academic Life Coaching and Coach Training EDU that the more time that is spent effectively exploring an agenda, the more powerful and targeted the coaching session will be. When helping a client identify an outcome for the topic, it is important to not just accept the first thing that comes to mind without digging a little deeper.

For instance, if a student would like to spend time discussing their SAT preparation (topic), and by the end of the session they want “a plan,” an effective coach will ask just a little more about that plan:

  • What are you looking for in this plan?
  • How will you know we have built a workable plan today?
  • What timeframe should this plan focus on?

These questions make the idea of “plan” more measurable so that the topic of “SAT Preparation” can be addressed in a much more targeted way.

As we step out of the jungle and back into the light of day, here are some questions you can consider as part of your agenda setting:

  • How concrete are the words of this topic and outcome?
  • How many steps is the client after?
  • What would make this basic outcome unsuccessful for this client? Successful?
  • How much can this client personally address this outcome, or is it dependent on others?
  • How will we know when we have arrived at the destination for this session?

The post Measures of Success in Agenda Setting appeared first on Academic Life Coaching & Life Coach Training.

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