Do you enjoy sharing your expertise and knowledge with your coaching clients?
I find that most coaches fit into one of these 4 categories:
YES! I have a lot of experience, information and wisdom related to what I coach on and my clients appreciate (and often sign up with me for) my knowledge and perspective.
SOMETIMES. If appropriate, I share information and provide guidance to my clients.
RARELY. I’m a coach and I focus on coaching (vs. advising or consulting with) my clients.
OTHER. I have a totally different answer to this question or it’s not applicable to me.
Are any of these true for you? Post a comment below to let me know.
This topic came up in one of my recent Group Coaching Success Action Group Coaching Calls and it was very interesting.
It seems that a lot of coaches, especially newly trained coaches, want to create content and share information with clients, but they’re not sure if they should because they were taught that coaches don’t give advice.
What do you think about that?
Would you leave a quick comment below to let me know?
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It’s funny, you go to your friends to let off some steam, and they offer unsolicited, unfiltered advice and areusually completely unqualified to give that advice. Whereas people go to coaches and therapists specifically asking for advice and instead most coaching certifications train you to ask “well formed questions” and let the client come up with their own answers. I strongly feel coaches should stop distancing themselves from clients and proactively offer advice, where it’s appropriate. Coaches are the experts after all and clients need their expert help and advice which can’t always be found by asking questions.
If I’m asked I sometimes preference my response with “it has been my experience…which does not make it yours”, or “if I were me, I might consider…or I might do…”
I usually ask clients to sign Otis and cons of any decision, and to not choose is also a choice.
Very interesting distinction between the 4 perspectives or approaches. I’ve done motivational interviewing and tried to lead client to see obstacles to overcome to help them feel more ready to make change. I’d welcome seeing your template. Thanks kindly.
As a life coach I ask my clients powerful questions that really get them thinking. People usually already have the answers inside of them. As their life coach I focus on helping clients to step into their own power rather than giving advice.
I teach coaches that we don’t give advice on WHAT they should do; we can definitely make suggestions and give examples. Once THEY decide and state what their goal is, however, it is absolutely okay to give them advice on HOW. I find this makes it clearer but is certainly not the “right” answer. I think the most important thing is that we as coaches are always mindful of this fine line.
As a speaker coach, give lots of advice and suggestions to my beginner speakers. I also create my own content. The first few sessions involve a lot of teaching of delivery skills and speech layout. However, I’m not trying to crank out robot clones so we have the motto, It’s the Message that Matters Most.” In other words, I want them to learn to be comfortable and be themselves. The first part of the program is more teaching the skills, whereas the second part is more coaching.
Time spent with clients is their time therefore they decide what the agenda for that period of time will be. One of the questions I usually ask: What would you like to take away from today’s session? Based on the take away I usually ask What action are you ready to take now? asking powerful questions provide clients with opportunities to come up with their own solutions. My expertise is shared in the form of an invitation. I am there to provide guidance accountability and support.
Michelle, This is a phenomenal discussion and I appreciate your inviting the dialogue. I’ve created a proprietary process that helps my clients to achieve their goals, related to the process, more quickly with dramatic results. However, each client’s situation is different so HOW they work through the process is personalized for their timing and agenda. My clients also bring agenda items to our work that are not related to the process, and these are integrated with the overall goals that they have defined. I’m generous with sharing resources, information, and experiences that will help my clients to reach their goals more quickly, and always maintain integrity with my role as ‘professional coach’ and not consultant, counselor, or mentor.
WOW! Thank you to everyone who posted a comment. It’s so interesting to read all of the different perspectives and factors that influence whether coaches share guidance and expertise with clients. And one of the great things about our profession is each coach can choose the approach that is right for his or her business!
Great discussion and insight everyone. I have always felt that everyone has the answers to those internal questions and it is out job as coaches to use our skills to help our clients access those answers. When it comes to external issues then it is also appropriate for a coach, when it is in the client’s best interest, to give them resources or information that might be helpful to them. I look at this more as a good resource provider than an advisor. I have found that my clients come up with much more creative solutions for themselves and will follow through with the action plan as it is more in alignment with their “wants”. I would never presume that I know what is best for anyone else as I firmly believe that our clients already know that themselves. Having that objective non-judgmental co-creator is why they hire us.
Can you imagine a hockey or basketball coach who would not give advice to his players?
I think its funny how we’ve taken this word from the English language, changed it’s meaning and now expect people who are just looking for some help to know our industry redefinition of the word. In my view coaching is about bringing out the best in people using whatever tactics works.
FYI Websters Dictionary says this for coach “one who instructs or trains… especially: one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy”
Business is definately a competitive sport.
I think the “never give advice” maxim is an over-reaction to compensate for many peoples natural tendency to teach by being a talking head instead of an interactive learning facilitator. Most people talk to much and listen too little. So they were given the advice “stop talking and start asking smart questions to get your clients talking”. Good advice as long as its not taken to far the other way.
Personally I cannot imagine working long term with an athletics coach or business coach who did not have some useful advice to add to what I already know.
Love this analogy, as it’s a common analogy I use in public speaking coaching and training as well!
I had this EXACT thought today (that sports coaches have to teach and give advice in order to effectively coach.) The emergence of the coaching industry is a direct response to the growing need of people everywhere to get real help with all kinds of challenges and goals. Thankfully, the industry is still unregulated; it’s got to be free to morph and evolve as it needs to.
However, (and I’m sure I’ll take flack for saying it) I believe that this very deregulation also invites hordes of people to become coaches who have compassionate hearts but who haven’t yet managed to shift their own lives into a practical, working empowerment. Not a judgment, just a consistent observation.
So until they do this for themselves, they will lack true understanding of the mechanics and fundamentals of change, and as a result, their capacity to provide quantifiable, lasting results for their clients will be limited.
Can they show up, ask questions, get clients brainstorming? Sure, and while there’s a distinct benefit in that, such a service will never be as powerful as it could be when under-girded with our own intimate knowledge of what lasting transformation actually takes. And if we know the principles and actions, are we not also honor-bound to do whatever it takes to get that knowledge and skill into our client?
Because even though they may know a lot of their own answers, the fact remains that if they could get themselves where they wanted to go, they would have already. And if they’re going to spend time, money & energy to get help, they’re going to go to someone who’s successfully applying their expertise in the real world – and someone who’s not afraid to throw the constraining industry no-no’s away when it becomes clear they’re not fully equipping the people we’re here to serve.
Damn, you hit it on the head!! I could not agree with you more,
Well put Daryl Crowie. You have captured my view on this topic. I have a tool kit and I use whatever is needed for the client to help them move forward.
Coaching for me blossoms from a singular objective at its foundation — establishing and cultivating a nurturing co-creative relationship — to which we each bring a set of strengths, skills, and resources.
It is my responsibility to align and harmonize with this person in such a way that s/he may align and harmonize with her/his strengths and inner resources — in the service of her/his goals and objectives.
My job then, is to share the resources I bring to our co-creation — strategies and tactics that include artfully: Tracking and feeding back energy; Creating a playing field for accountability; Applying such powerful mindbody tools as NLP; Hypnotherapy; EFT; EMDR; Biofeedback — all in the service of advancing her/his strengths, resources, and goals.
To me coaching is never about “advice”. It is about validating, nurturing, strengthening the Greatness this unique individual courageously brings to each session — bestowing me with the honor to share in his/her life and growth. S/he can look on the internet for advice . . . or talk to a parent, sibling or friend. The last thing s/he needs from me is to fail at co-creating something nourishing by doling out platitudes and “I” centered chaff. This relating is much too sacred for that.
I don’t think many of us know what is advice really – there’s a fine line and shades of gray. That being said, ultimately it is how the client receives “the communication.” For me, in its purest form, coaching is ultimately guiding (advising), suggesting (advising), supporting (client directly asking for advise from a “trusted” paid source – the hired coach.
I do my best to have the client come up with their own answers and it depends on the person and the situation. I use my intuition as guidance and if it feel apprpropriate. I don’t tell them what to do, I share what has worked for me, a specific story that relates to them in the moment. Many of my clients are in transition or lost due to a life changing event. I think my wisdom and experience is what attracts them to work with me. Thank you for the template!
Am still trying to find the ideal mix between providing materials so that people feel that they’re getting concrete help and that it is worth hiring a coach and simply asking the right questions to help them find the right answers themselves.
There are new models, blueprints and patterns that are being intoduced to entire coaching industry at this moment. Some of the concepts and ideas that was taught in the past concerning how to run a coaching business are outdated, and need to be changed. The question is not should you give advice to your clients, but the question that should be focused on is what are your clients looking to you as a coach for.Is it leadership-direction? is it relationship-community? is it creativity-solving problems? There has to be a new training mechanism for coaches that have been trained under old models and systems.What peoople need today is not necessay what they needed yesterday. Let me end with this. Coaches today who have been in the field for years and have a lot of experience and value to offer , need to transition their coaching business into more of a resource. teaching, equiping .training center that offers to the client every thing they need in order to succeed and fufill their destiny and purpose in life.Is it okay to give advice to your clients? it depends on your relationship with the client, how well do you know them. and they know you.It depends on the particular situation and circumstance that they are facing.It depends on the maturity of the individual.Instead of useing the word advice i like to use the word wisdom.What could benefit the client more than advice is wisdom drawn from your years of life experience,knowledge, and area of expertise.In some scenarios, and cases advice could be defined as somebodies opinion which means nothing, but there is more weight and substance in wisdom.
I found myself giving advice based on my own experience to one of my early clients and learnt a lesson very quickly from it, which was…. whilst the client may respond that it sounds like a great idea to consider – the reality of it was that when she came in for her next session there was absolutely no mention of it. For me this made it quite clear that advice was not something I would be offering in the future – even though I am often getting asked for it by my clients.
However I do now offer “information” (when appropriate)that may help the client develop their own ideas – some people may think there is no difference but I have clearly seen and experienced the difference for myself.
The other thing that I am looking at setting up (I only coach internally to my organisation at the moment) is a series of seminars around the key areas that people seem to want “advice” or “suggestions” around. I am hoping that this will also lead into some group coaching opportunities for me in the future.
I’m UK-trained and it was strongly reinforced during my training that a coach should facilitate growth by bringing out the client’s own resources. The skill is in asking the right questions to enable them to come up with the answers. However, I’m new to this and I confess I find it extremely hard at the moment not to feel that I should offer advice. That puts pressure on me which I think is unnecessary. Giving information for the client to explore is one thing, but giving them advice – I think that should come from more of a mentoring relationship.
Actually, just read Sally’s comment and totally agree.
Yes, sometimes but it depends on what it is about. I ask of course if it’s ok! I’m ICC certified coach but I do not give advice.
Occasionally I will offer suggestions, especially when the client can’t come up with any of their own. Most of the time, though, in my life coaching I just listen, ask questions and try to get the client to come up with their own solutions. It seems they are more likely to actually do their baby step if it originated with them. It’s the way I prefer to be coached also.
I have always called myself a consultant, NOT a coach for this very reason. I respect and LOVE coaches, but I do offer a lot of content, resources and how to’s in my consulting practice… then let my clients chose what is right for them based on an informed decision. The coaches I MOST love working with are the ones who do the same. I look for research junkie coaches and those with rich content(sometimes in the form of advice), based on personal experience as well, who lay out great options, info, advice, how to’s etc…then let me pick what makes sense for me, my life and my business.
Once my client has created the vision of what THEY want to create in their life and developed steps THEY want to take in order to put THEIR vision into their human experience via my coaching them through a series of questions and exercises, I ask if they are open to my offering them any wisdom/knowledge I have on mastering process. Most of the time I am met with a resounding YES to this offer.
I want my clients to find their own answers as much as possible but will never withhold information if I have it.
I often ask permission to make sure.
Coaching = asking questions.
Consulting = giving advice.
I do both and call myself a Partner.
A few months ago I’d say rarely, but now it’s sometimes & it seems people are looking for guidance……..I believe if we share what worked for us, it also helps the client bc they can say, ‘hey, I love that I’m going to try it’ or, ‘you know, I don’t think I can do that, BUT, it made me think of this’………I stay open and present in and for each session and that guides me…….thanks for the template…going to check it out now…. :)
I think there is huge value in pure coaching and this is often underestimated. I feel at times we coaches may feel we need to “prove” ourselves and giving advise can support this. With the fast pace of our society, people don’t often get time to think. To think clearly on the bigger picture. If advice is to be given, I think the roles, relationship and expectations need to be clearly defined at the start of any journey. I offer 2 seperate products. Pure coaching as 1 and training/consulting as the other.
I like this
Hi. Since I work with business owners and leaders, they often expect to have answers to their questions by the time I leave their offices. Sometimes, they expect me to be a consultant rather than a coach. Of course, I love to have them come up with answers to their own questions – so I try to give them good assessment information and ideas to hopefully get them to come to a decision. However, sometimes, the answer is so clear, but they are too immersed in the situation to see it. So, I share my experience and outline options for them to consider.
As I get older, it seems the answer to most questions is “It depends.” I have a lot of experience as both a coach and a counselor. The way I operate, two are much the same. I help people make the best decisions for them. The decisions have to be theirs, not mine. At the same time, especially since I work primarily to help people get both success and fulfillment in their careers, there is a lot of content and feedback to share. Without it, they will be less equipped to make the best decisions for them. As far as giving advice is concerned, I do that sometimes, where appropriate, usually couched in a statement like, “Many people find that this approach works very well. You might want to consider it.”
Good question, Michelle! I believe clients work with a coach/mentor to access their considerable knowledge and expertise. This should be shared according to the appropriate time and circumstance. The client can then assess their own situation and choose whether to act on the information or not.
I had many years of mentoring experience before recently taking a coaching qualification. I have had to be really aware of when giving advice as in terms of the coaching qualitfication it is against the rules.
We were advised thatthere is no problem with giving advice in a coach -client relationship as long as this is clearly part of the pre- coaching agreement or contract. This seems a sensible approach to me.
While I agree that there is an important distinction between advice and information, the “information” you choose to pass on will inevitably influence the thinking of the client and may well have a similar impact to “advice”
In all my sessions now I focus on a pure coaching approach for most of the session and only add in the advice / information, at a late stage if I feel the client would benefit from it. I have nopticed that this makes a significant difference to the post session change in behaviour – where the actions have come purely from the client through coaching, they are MORE likely to be implemented than if they have cone through advice. I suspect this is because self -generated ideas are more firmly embedded than those adopted because of someone else’s advice.
For me therefore, advice is an important elmeent of most relationships but to be used sparingly when the client is “struggling to work it out for themselves”.
this is wisdom
It depends on your coaching topic. I’m a public speaking coach and it would be ridiculous for me not to give my clients advice and suggestions. They hire me precisely for my experience and knowledge about what makes a presentation successful.
Much of the time I help them see what the results will be of different actions they may choose to take, without specifically telling them what to do. And a lot of our coaching time is about reframing the way they perceive themselves, their abilities and their audiences, and building confidence by building skills.
But if they are developing a presentation that’s meant to grow their business and get them clients, I don’t want to be ambiguous about what is and isn’t working.
i like this, good stuff.
I prefer not to if there is another way.
I like to provide my clients with lots of pertinent information. The more they know, the more likely they are to make clear decisions with confidence. I don’t however, give advice. Information and advice are two very different things for me. I do my best to stay focused on the intention of my information also in order to not give advice “through the side door” (if you know what I mean:)) This is their journey. I’m there to keep the doors open for them.