HOW A LIFE COACH CAN ADD LEADERSHIP COACHING TO THEIR OFFER
A business case for combining Life Coaching and Leadership Coaching
Life Coaching and Leadership Coaching are a winning combination. They’re complimentary. So how can you seamlessly blend these two skills to stand-out from the crowd and deliver exceptional value to your clients?
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Who is this article useful for?
Life Coaching is a highly competitive space. There is no barrier to entry. To stand out you have to be good at what you do – in both marketing yourself and getting your client’s results. But what if you feel you can make an even greater impact on people’s lives – at both a personal level and business level? If your life coaching client owns a business, manages a team, is in a senior role – chances are their happiness, wellbeing and life are strongly influenced by the strength of their team. If they have been able to develop a strong team, they can delegate effectively. They can switch off their phone at weekends, evenings and when they’re on vacation, knowing their team is capable of handling issues.
By contrast, having a poor team creates lots of stress, overwhelm and anxiety. Chances are your client is not able to focus on the things they deeply care about or are passionate about, as they’re knee deep in resolving conflict, annoyed customers and poor morale.
The skills of a Life Coach and Leadership Coach are transferable
Any Coach, regardless of their expertise or specialism has to be credible in the following:
Be a generous listener
The role of a good Coach is to be an exceptional listener. The skill is to listen between the lines. To really understand what is being said and equally, what is not being said. In both Life Coaching and leadership Coaching listening is critical in really building trust, rapport and understanding. Without this, coaching lacks depth and becomes tactical vs transformational.
Get to the root cause of a problem.
Experienced Coaches adopt the mantra ‘the presenting issue is never the real problem’. They understand the issues and challenges a client is experiencing are often symptoms of an underlying or deeper issue. So they remain open and curious. They keep asking clarifying questions. And in doing so allow their client to gain a deeper understanding of the issue they have been living with for a while. Clients can have their perceptions of what they need to do. But it takes a skilled Coach to help them frame and understand their challenge for what it really is. This is a prerequisite for both Life Coaches and Leadership Coaches.
Ask high quality questions
This builds on the previous point. High quality questions are short and simple. For example:
“Can you describe what that looks like….”
“Can you bring this to life for me….”
“In what specific situations do you notice this….”
“If you were not afraid, what choices would you make…… “
“Based on these insights, how would you now re-frame the challenge…..”
The Point with high quality questions is they’re not leading questions. You’re not trying to test out an hypothesis. You’re not trying to win a point or an argument. You’re simply helping your client gain a different perspective, which can be hard to do when you’re too close to it.
Be non-judgemental and neutral
This is another vital skill for both Life Coaches and Leadership Coaches. The client feels you’re supportive. They know they can say anything and you will not think any less of them. Inexperienced Coaches can be tempted to ‘label’ the problem the client is describing. They want to dip into their memory bank or past experience to impress their clients and suggest: “have you tried this….my previous clients found ABC solution to be very helpful….”. Whilst this may feel as though you’re being expedient and moving onto solutions, you risk forcing the wrong solution onto your client.
Create a safe place for your client to think aloud
The art in Life Coaching and Leadership Coaching is to empower clients. To create a safe place where they can think things through and generate their own solutions and ideas. The power of this lies in their commitment level. The more they have generated their own ideas and solutions, the more they will own them and commit to them – even when they encounter setbacks. Experienced Coaches know they have to ‘park their ego’ and allow clients to formulate their own ideas.
How to combine Life Coaching and Leadership Coaching?
Here are three powerful ways of combining life coaching with leadership coaching:
As a Coach we risk being too narrow and focused on one dimension of a client’s life. By all means have a deep specialism. At the same time be open enough to add value in other aspects of their working lives too. Chances are, your clients are ‘buying into you’ not your expertise.
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Life Goals and Business Goals
Clayton Christensen wrote an influential HBR article: ‘How will you measure your life?’. He comments that over 20 years of teaching an MBA programme, he couldn’t help notice how many of the smart and successful business people he worked with, were on their second or third marriages and did not feel fulfilled. They had material success and wealth, but they had under-invested in other aspects of their life and their relationships.
In pursuit of financial goals, even smart people can lose perspective. Holding your coaching clients accountable for developing business goals aligned to their life goals can be a very powerful part of how you differentiate yourself.
Self assessment and team assessment
As a Life Coach, you can help your clients by helping them take stock of how they have grown at an emotional and spiritual level. You may provide them with some self-assessment tools or psychometrics so they better understand their personal drivers, their personality type, how they respond under pressure or perhaps a wellbeing assessment. Either way, these calibrations can be helpful in identifying the progress made and what more they can do in the coming weeks and months.
Now what if you were also able to help them assess the strengths and development areas of their team. In doing so, you help your client identify what feedback they might want to share on the strengths they see in each team member. You help them identify what coaching they might value. You may help your client identify projects, goals or priorities which may provide each team member with the skills and capabilities to make them even more effective in their current role.
Personal leadership and Team Leadership
The perfect leader and the perfect human being does not exist. We are all work in progress. As a Life Coach you may well be working with clients on their time management, on their personal impact, confidence and ability to stand-up for what they believe in. You may be helping them with some aspect of emotional intelligence and their self-awareness. Personal leadership is often about getting their ‘inner game’ right.
What if you were able to also help your client, by taking their team through a similar journey? What if you were able to coach your client’s team on the things they consider to be holding them back. Clearly, there may be a perceived conflict of interest. Team members might feel issues discussed in confidence with you, may well be feedback to their Manager. But this can be easily addressed by bringing in other Coaches – so they support the team and you work with your client. In so doing, you’re combining life coaching and leadership coaching.
To discuss any of this further, drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.