As a coach, your most valuable asset is your ability TO COACH. Without that, you render yourself pretty useless to your client. This is why during every coaching session, you will need to be able to read the room, manage expectations and ensure that your client feels extremely comfortable and trusting in your ability to guide them to their next step.
In the world of coaching, there is coaching and then there is ICF Professional Coaching Certification. In the world of ICF (International Coach Federation) professional coaching certification, certain skills need to be practiced for staying on track with ICF’s professional coaching competencies. One of those competencies is to help our coaching clients to design meaningful action steps through coaching sessions.
ICF certified coaches who are educated through International Coach Federation’s accredited schools realize that a true coaching session is incomplete without effective action steps that implement the discoveries and create new awareness, regardless of how transformational the coaching session is.
As a FLOW coach, a coaching session is begun by building trust, setting a focus, and creating a holistic experience to achieve an outcome. Once a person has opened up to the possibilities of positive change and has explored a goal in mind, imagining the details of completion, the next move is to determine specific steps to undertake the plan.
When the steps are defined and taken into consideration as clear and concise action items, they should be linked to what is most important to the coachee. Perhaps, the action steps then can be written down to provide a strong sense of ownership. Doing this helps the person to stay on track to reach the goal with full power and belief.
What Are Action Questions?
As the actions become clarified, the session sharpens focus on specific action steps. An ICF-certified coach must lead with action questions that assist the person to begin to formulate his first commitments in the key area.
Action questions may be like:
- Taking into consideration our session today, and your short and long-term goals, what actions do you commit to doing this week?
- What actions do you commit to achieving this week to solidify the learning from our session today?
- What would be one step to take?
At specific moments when the coachee begins to determine and select specific action steps, it is useful for the coach to use a strong and decisive tone for the certainty of results leading to inspired implementation and achievement. Action words are very personal and variable from person to person. For example, some people take clear action when they use phrases like “I must” or “I should”. Others like to use words like “I will”, “I can”, “I choose” or “I decide”. It means that if you, as a coach try out words that seem to inspire them, you provide them strong coach support and help them take action.
The key is in active listening to then pick out words that energize the client and the ones that put them down. Are the words the coachee is speaking coming out energetic and inspired or they sound forced? If you are unsure, ask the coachee to rate his motivation from 1 to 10. Check if there are any stronger inner phrases that make them motivated and inspired.
One last step for you as a coach is to check in with the client regarding their timeline for the specific steps. This timeline confirmation brings this last important part of the session to a close with the strongest possible support system from you as a coach.
The dialogue to follow can be like below:
Coach: “So you are committed to doing this by Friday morning?”
Coachee: “Yes! That’s what I meant! I am committed!”
At FLOW Coaching Institute, a powerful ending to the coaching session is for the client to realize and debrief the value of the coaching session. For this purpose, it is important to ask the coachee at the end of the session “What value did you create for yourself in this conversation?” or “What is your takeaway from today’s conversation?”
It is a great exercise for a certified coach to finish with a few words sharing what positive aspects you see in the person highlighting the ones that are essential for his development.
Now that you have the formula to effectively and powerfully complete a coaching session, how might you apply this, not only to your coaching sessions but also to your own life?