Coaching Story – and the client became one

I just got back from Basel, where I had the privilege to co-facilitate with Peter Szabó the “Live Coaching Days”.

That would be module 4 of SolutionsurfersPURE Brief-Coach Training Program.
It is so called because in those 3 days participants have a chance to coach “real” clients, i.e. not other participants – and to do so in front of other coaches.

It is a unique opportunity for trainees to put their coaching skills to the test – with clients who, unlike the participants, do not know how the process is supposed to work. Clients walk in with a real-life topic they want to work on, a topic unknown beforehand to trainees and facilitators alike.

It is also a unique opportunity for coaches to perform in front of their peers and get specific and detailed feedback on their coaching – something very hard to do in a profession where most of the interactions are one on one, and governed by strict confidentiality. As coaches, we might have some form of feedback in terms of outcome (did it work for the client? was he / she happy?) but not about the process (how did I do that?).

I was blessed to witness many amazing coaching conversations.

I am sharing one below, in a format that protects the identity of client and coach.

Just to give you an idea of how cool Solution-Focused Coaches are :-)

Once upon a time, there was a coach and a client.

The client wanted to align her team so they would work better together.
As she elaborated on that, it became clear she was talking about an “inner” team.
Everything sounded so abstract and sterile – as if it were a management problem in an organization far, far away.
The coach did not flinch, and started working with the metaphor and the words offered by the client.

After some exploration, a big step forward occurred when the client was offered a Skaleboard to play with.
By positioning pieces on the board, the undifferentiated inner team  started to break down into individual “members”, each one with “very good reasons” and a specific concern – the part of the coachee that was worried about health, the part that was excited about her work, and so on and so forth.

With only 5 minutes left in the coaching session, the client became clear it was a matter of deciding between two alternatives, or a composition thereof.
The client mentioned she liked exploration and movement.
The coach was quick to seize that opportunity: he had the client stand up and have a glimpse of the two different scenarios (and a combination of the two), by leading her to different windows and skillfully depicting the two different outcomes, using the client’s words.

Once given a chance to see what the different choices would lead to, the client was very quick and very confident in making a decision – it was clear to everyone in the room that she was definitely very attracted to one of the two scenarios.

I was very impressed by the ability of the coach to think on his feet, to work with what the client brought and to brilliantly get to a resolution by performing a complete “decision coaching process” in 5 minutes.

I was also very impressed by the client.
It was amazing to see the level of integration she achieved in just thirty minutes.
What started with an abstract description of a fragmented self made up of undifferentiated inner voices and devoid of emotions, evolved during the session into one person, speaking with one heart, one mind and one soul.

The outcome  went well beyond the best hopes of the client: her goal for the session was to get some elements so she could “work on a team alignment plan” on the train ride back home – she did not expect to solve the issue right there and then, with a “team” that became one in thirty minutes!