Goals in Coaching Relationships

goals in coaching relationshipsGoals are the end toward which your efforts are directed, the finish line of a race, a picture of where you are headed. Setting goals is making a decisive choice to reach a certain end. It’s starting with the final objective in mind. Coaching is a goal-driven process, because at every point you are explicitly working toward specific goals in coaching relationships.

In a coaching relationship, it’s the client’s job to choose the goals in the coaching relationship. That decisive choice focuses the client’s efforts and sets things in motion. Your job as a coach is to focus the coaching conversation around those goals so that the client develops and carries out the kinds of action steps that bring the person to the goal. In essence, the goals provide both a mandate and a set of boundaries for the coach. It is a mandate because it represents the client’s clear, specific request to be coached on that agenda. It’s a boundary because that stated objective is where you need to focus your coaching.

Here’s why that’s important. Let’s say you and a client have talked about several different issues but not decided where to put the primary focus. She wants to get organized so she can improve her productivity, spend more time with the kids, start taking care of herself by going to the gym regularly and realign her priorities with her life purpose. So state your opinion: which of these four issues is the most important one to focus on?

The problem is that when there is no definite goal, it’s easy for the coach to coaching_questionschoose it for the client by default. My personal calling is to build leadership character, so if I was coaching this gal I’d naturally be attracted to the fourth option. It would be a challenge for me not to skew the conversation in that direction. But that’s not my job. Of those four issues, the one that is most important is the one that the client thinks is most important. Having the client decisively choose the goals in the coaching relationship keeps the coach from inadvertently changing the agenda.

That’s one reason to make sure you are working towards goals in coaching relationships. Here are five more key reasons why being driven towards goals in coaching relationships is vital to coaching effectively:

1. Clarity. A goal represents a decisive choice by the client to pursue a particular end.

2. Power. Declaring a goal unleashes the energy of commitment on the client’s behalf.

3. Motivation. Visualizing the end result motivates the client to pursue a better future.

4. A Mandate. A goal gives you a clear picture of the client’s priorities, a mandate for how to focus your coaching conversations and boundaries.

5. Action. Clear goals make it easy to develop effective action steps. It’s hard to plan if you don’t know where you’re going!

Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. For more information on Tony’s best-selling coaching books go to