There is power in simple, unconditional love to transform people’s lives . The simple act of listening and withholding judgment is a compelling way to love people. Coaching relationships have special boundaries that free the coach to offer this kind of unconditional belief and support. The first of those boundaries is illustrated in the story above: the coaching relationship focuses solely on the issues of the client, not those of the coach. We say it like this: It’s about the client, not about you.
During the coaching appointment, the client and the client’s growth is the sole focus. Everything I do and say as a coach is directed toward that end. When I am dealing with personal frustrations toward clients, I choose to not share those during our sessions, because our coaching relationships areclient-centered. It isn’t about me. Instead, I deal with my personal agenda outside the coaching relationship, so that when we meet I can function in the way that best facilitates the client’s growth. This approach is a practical way to expressagape love—the love that gives, expecting nothing in return—to the client. The coaching relationship gives clients a very personal picture of the way that God loves them.
Being client-centered doesn’t mean the coach is a doormat. A coaching relationship with a client where I am experiencing frustration can’t continue until we talked about the issues causing the problem and come up with a workable solution.
Sometimes the best course in coaching relationships that breakdown is to confront the client directly about not meeting agreed-on expectations, and sometimes an indirect approach is most effective. But the guiding principle for both is, coaches get their own issues taken care of outside the coaching relationship, so what happens inside it is about the client, not the coach.
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book,Leadership Coaching.