March 02, 2023 by Steve Baker
In Coaching to Flourish Season 3 Episode 9 we discuss developing an ideal client profile and dive into some challenging scenarios facing executive coaches.
[Raj Anderson] We’re live. So welcome everyone. Welcome to the Coaching to Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Raj Anderson, Executive Life Coach and Coach Assessor. And I'm here with John Andrew Williams, the Founder of Coach Training EDU. And I think you caught the beginning of our conversation. So John, would you like to share with the audience what’s up and coming.
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, so it's been on my list of things to do, to rework the Business Building materials for Coach Training EDU and to put on, basically, organization-wide masterminds, monthly to look at this. So I'll do one in the evening, one in the morning. I think the first one's gonna be, we haven't set the date yet, like for sure, for sure. I think March 7th. I know we're gonna get the date out. It's just a week away.
Um, but we're gonna do a soft launch and then in April we'll have a couple more, and then we'll have 'em on some sort of schedule. But those are, and those will be monthly. So I've been spending a lot of time last couple weeks taking a pretty deep dive into this and I'm pretty excited about it.
[Raj Anderson] That's really exciting, John. Who are they for? Who are they open to?
[John Andrew Williams] They're open to current students at Coach Training EDU and any alumni.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah, I'm really excited. And when you say mastermind, can you give a taste of what we might expect?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, so the first one gonna be, “Developing Your Ideal Client Profile”. You know, your ICP, like who, who are you really gearing your practice towards. Who do you wanna work with? Who can you provide value to and then understanding what are their challenges? What are their fears? What are the moments in their lives when they think, yeah, like this is something that, you know, that they were, would want to work with a coach and it's amazing. And then go find them, talk to them, interview them. Like go out and actually find your ideal customer and, and not ask them to be your client. That's, you know, that can wait till later. But to ask them all those questions, like, what is it? Ask. Ask them the challenges. Ask them their fears. Ask them their moments when they think, yeah, like, this is where I need help. And really get into that, that space.
I did this unconsciously when I was working, you know, not unaware. I did this when I was working with students, talking to their parents. It took me about a year to figure out how to position coaching so I could, you know, build my client base.
Um, but this is the first time where I've worked with sales and marketing, advisors, experts, consultants to help me design this and deliver it. So I feel like it's much more robust than anything that we've put together in the past. Yeah, it's good. It's really good.
[Raj Anderson] Well, I can't wait to maybe pop in myself as well. Is this for any coach who either has a business or is looking to grow their business. Is that how we're aiming?
[John Andrew Williams] Yes. It's mostly geared to coaches who are developing an independent practice, not necessarily coaches who are trying to either work in a school or a program.
However, I do think, and it is best practice, if you are an administrator in a school or organization, that you approach with the same level of rigor, like as if it were your own business, and really interview your students from a standpoint of how can we position this coaching offering in a way that is, doesn't feel like it's remedial or feel like it's, uh, a pain, but something that you would actually want to do and it's something that could help you.
I mean, these are really valuable insights. I was talking to an administrator at school who had a program. Her problem now is that students are now booking her too much as a coach, cuz they're just liking the sessions. They're just like, yeah, this is great. So now that's the challenge, right?
How do you communicate so that students know what to expect. How much they can get out of this program and session? It's endlessly fascinating and that's what we're rolling out.
[Raj Anderson] Thank you John. And, positioning is a great thing to think about, isn't it? And you know, often coaches, they train as coaches and they love all the aspects of it. But you know, I hear questions such as, I don't know how to describe coaching, or I don't know how to position coaching out there to the world. What are your thoughts on that?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. Start with who your ideal customer is. And speak to the challenges that they have because coaching is not a solution. Coaching is not something that people think, oh, like if I apply a coaching bandaid, then this will work. It's more like coaching is a pathway to a solution and to understand that difference between. It's very similar to a car. It's a vehicle. It's a means to get you somewhere, but the real problem is transportation, right?
The real problem is how do you get from point A to point B? It's a subtle but important shift. It is very similar to transportation. Like there are many different ways you can get from point A to point B. And a car just happens to be one of the most convenient, but is the best way if you wanna get across the country? No, it's not. You wanna hop on an airplane. It's that level of thinking. Every coach in a training, every coach who's in a practice. I was in there, it was like going through a puppy stage. Like every night is coaching night, you're coaching your friends, people, your family, your everything.
It's all about coaching, coaching, coaching, which is fine for a brief period of time. But when there's a potential client, they're not thinking, oh, like they're not thinking coaching. They're thinking, oh, I have this challenge. Like, my child is having a really hard time, having a tough time, in school or this thing, like what do I need to do? What could be helpful. So coaching is a way to get them from A to B, but I wouldn't confuse the path with the vehicle.
[Raj Anderson] What advice do you have for new coaches who try to skip the path or have this urge to provide a solution?
[John Andrew Williams] You know I was working with a consultant a week ago. And I could tell he just wants to make sure that I'm walking away with a piece of advice that's worth the hourly rate that he's charging. And in my mind I'm thinking he is so coaching the problem. He's trying to problem hunt, and solution provide, which is fine, but I feel like the deeper work that coaching offers is an insight that can change not just this one problem, but change the person, the rest of the person's life. So I feel like the same thing with coaching is that there's a difference between the marketing of coaching, which is problem centric. It is. You have to look at, you know, how do you communicate the value to somebody, something that's invisible, something that you can't necessarily touch.
How do you communicate that value that's very problem-centric. The coaching model itself is very, it's person centric, so those are two extremely different ways of viewing the world. Coaches have to be, you know, if you're establishing an independent practice, you have to be good at both of them at the same time.
[Raj Anderson] Why do you think coaching has been marketed as problem centric for long?
[John Andrew Williams] Well, I think marketing coaching is problem-centric is good. I feel like that's what you want in terms of your marketing. The problem with the coaching marketing is that the problem I see with a lot of coach marketing is that it focuses on coaching, it focuses on explaining what coaching is. It focuses on l all of the things that the coach themselves are really immersed in. Oh wow. Powerful questions, levels of listening, imaginative inquiry, like all of those things like that. But those are the tools that you use. The marketing of coaching, you needs to shift away from that.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah. Yeah, you're making me think of, um, sometimes when I'm mentoring, um, coaches or new coaches who are in the business or exec world or working with executive clients and corporations and they feel that they need to add value by solving a problem or jumping in quickly or trying to fix it.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm. . Exactly. Exactly. So what's your reaction when that happens? How do you react either if it's you as a client or you see an executive doing that?
[Raj Anderson] Well, I actually had somebody practice it on me because they were sharing with me that they felt that that's what they need to do first. Right? They wanna bring the client along and they were struggling to find a way to go deeper, even though they had the questions, they didn't feel the questions would land, or perhaps a person wasn't ready for that level of coaching. So something for us all to think about. There's lots of assumptions there, isn't it? And, the three trusts had gone out the window at that point, if we're making assumptions, but when I was experiencing it, I was on the receiving end. I didn't like it actually. It made me feel inadequate. Um, all that. I didn't have the ability to solve it for myself when I was being told. So the questions were going towards, Well have you tried this? And of course my ego was like, of course I've tried that. I have systems in place.
[John Andrew Williams] That's so funny.
[Raj Anderson] So that leads me nicely actually to an executive coaching question. So John, uh, I'm an executive coach and it's clear that my c e o client lacks the self-awareness to recognize his leadership deficiencies are an obstacle to his company's growth. How do I help him get out of his own way?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. Huh. I feel like this might apply to all CEOs. All leaders. Okay. I have a friend who's a CFO, Chief Financial Officer, and we share a lot of ideas back and forth.
The main piece of advice is to really put yourself in the position of the CEO and try to imagine what the CEO cares about the most. Like really deeply listen, level two, go into that and become curious and ask like what's the biggest challenge right now? What's the biggest frustration?
I know that even in my own journey of going from a high school Latin teacher to establishing my own practice to running an organization. Where like all of those things, like especially running an organization, I've never run one before, so I know I'm gonna make mistakes.
I know that there's opportunity for me to grow and I know, you know, like that this needs to get done. I think that there are some leaders in organizations I've worked with, they don't want to hear it. They don't want to hear, oh, like this is where they need to grow. This is where they need to be different.
And that's a challenge. That's a really big challenge. And I have a lot of compassion where that comes from having running an organization because it's a little bit like the person in the arena. It's easier for people who are not running the organization to see, oh, they could do this differently. They could do that differently. They could be like, this, this, this. Fine. But when you're actually in there running the show, it goes so fast. It's like listening to a coaching session versus being the one who's doing the coaching, who's, who's coaching, like, when you're in a coaching session, it's, it's fast.
There's so much material coming at you. There's so many things. If you listen to recording, You can go, oh, you know what? I could have done this better, could have done that better, could have done this better. I could have done that better. So I would challenge whoever's asking the question, the first step in this is to have incredible compassion for the CEO, and understand that that CEO, the pressure that that person is under, is immense.
It is, it's, it's gonna be a lot. And so the CEO is acting in that way for a reason, and most people do the very best they can, given the options that they have. It's not like the CEO is trying to mess it up, so it's compassion, it's going over there, going level two and becoming curious about it. Getting into their worldview and looking at all of these problems, looking at all of this stuff from the CEO perspective, which is different from an employee perspective. So the first step is really getting over there, getting curious. What's it like?
One of the most valuable things CEOs recognize, when an employee starts to think like them and realize, okay, like from the CEOs perspective, this is what it's like to think like them. Oh my goodness. Oh, that's gold. That's like, yes, thank you. Someone is looking at this from my perspective on it, and it's like, yeah, that's, that's amazing that that's. Yeah, that's what you want. And I'm so curious, Raj, your take on this too. Cause I feel like this is a really, really good question.
[Raj Anderson] It is. And, I just wanna acknowledge what you said as well. You, you talked about having empathy and compassion stepping into their shoes, and perhaps there is that piece, as you said, around acknowledgement.
You are acknowledging their journey also to this point, uh, and the growth and the celebration. And I, and I think for sometimes for individuals, this is a lonely journey, isn't it? At the top to where they have come to or where they've got to. So, you know, I was thinking about some of these pieces. The other thing is you are, you might be helping somebody, a leader in an organization or CEO to look at things that they've never looked at before.
You know, they've become successful potentially from doing the things versus focusing on what we're talking about, coaching around the beings. Um, the being pieces and values and mission. And, one of the things that helped me working with senior leaders, helping them and empowering them to remember the why, uh, the vision, the values.
It reminds me of a module I did myself, um, with you, John, in the 2.0 program where we looked at company shared values and what is the culture that the leader wants to create. So, those are some of the things there around the meaningful pieces and, helping the CEO leader to connect. And then there might be this other side that I've had to do as well around holding that mirror up and direct communication.
And you've got to be courageous as a coach. And, and maybe this is where you bring in a 360 overview assessment. I work with leaders which often have done staff surveys, and they have to read things that are uncomfortable for them to read and see.
[John Andrew Williams] Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.
[Raj Anderson] I'll stop there, John, and, and see what your thoughts are on what I'm sharing.
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, I mean, this is why I think working in business, you know, I think that there, you know, let, let's say that there's this, uh, myth out there that working in business doesn't require personal and professional growth. You know, from an academia standpoint, business is, you know, not as worthy of like study or attention, right?
Let's call it a slight pervasive thing and let's say you also have a background in classics, like you literally spent your year studying Latin and ancient Greek, and then you get out into the business world and you realize, whoa, there's this whole element that you like are aware of.
Right. And what I'm, what I'm seeing now and the work that I've done as an executive coach is some of the executives I've worked with are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. And part of it is they have to be, they have to develop a heart for people, even when people are so uncool, the executives like in this spaces have to have a space of not taking it personal, being like, you know what?
This is the way this organization is going. Like that is, that's a tremendous asset and skill that, you know, that executives have. Some executives don't, haven't yet develop that, and I feel like that's one of the biggest things that holds back the executives I've worked with is this sort of a egoic, like no, it's an unwillingness to change, an unwillingness to really move off of that.
It's incredible too sometimes these organizations, I mean, they're doing lots of money. You know, we're talking revenue in the tens of millions a year. And oftentimes when the revenue gets like that, some of the situations and walking, this just increases too because you just have these odd dynamics and you know, and I've coached 'em, I've seen them, you know. And when an executive, when you can really reach them, and it might be, as an employee, it might not be your job to do it.
It might be your job to you know, figure out how you can get your executive a coach or get your executive, a consultant or a program or something to do it. And this is, I mean, this is where a lot of executive coaches make their money because the stakes are so high, it's worth a thousand, at least a thousand an hour. You know, it's worth like so much if the executive can figure this out. So I feel like I'm rambling on it a little bit, but executives, if there's an incentive and they see the benefit of them changing, they will change.
[Raj Anderson] Yeah, and it makes me think of Marshall Goldsmith's book, “What Got You Here Won't Get You There”, and it's a great read, actually. Great tips in there.
[John Andrew Williams] That's what he does. I mean, that's why Marshall makes his money is because the organization will say, yeah, this person needs to do this, this, this.
He gets in there and says, hey, this is what, this is what needs to happen. So the person, I mean, in these positions, you know, it's Marshall telling them. This is what you need to do. Change. It's challenging when you are an employee to tell someone, hey, this is what you need to do to change. I think the setup itself is really hard. Uh, it's really hard.
[Raj Anderson] So now, John, we have an employee question. So I am an in-house executive coach. The manager of a department is unable to stop her micromanaging tendencies and trust her employees to do the jobs. Turnover is high, staff are stressed, withdrawn, and overworked. How do I help this manager see the impact of her actions and the impact they're having on the department?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah, I think it's gotta be outcome focused. Is wondering like what are the outcomes that the department needs to hit and then, uh, you know, running, running tests on it. You know, can you hit the outcomes doing something different? Um, that's, you know, I think anytime a manager feels like they have to get in there, there's probably a stressor or something, that there's an outcome that's not being hit that needs to be hit.
It's not like people enjoy, like again, you gotta get over her. Get, get into her side, like get into thinking the way she's thinking. Like I would imagine, like she has pressure, she needs certain outcomes, so she's doing what's necessary to get those outcomes right? It's not like people get in there and say, oh, I really wanna micromanage.
I really wanna manage. No, that takes energy. That's effort. That's work. That's not fun, that that's happening for a reason.
So if you can show like, hey, like let's do a little experiment here for this period of time and see if we still get these same outcomes. Yeah. You know, uh, but you're not gonna, you, I don't think it would go over well to say, Hey, stop micromanaging us, uh, with, with no, like, you know what I mean?
Just like with, with no regard for, for why she's doing what she's doing. It's not gonna work.
[Raj Anderson] So help her to really understand why she's doing it, help and help her to understand who she is. Um, I love the values exercise. I do values exercise with individuals quite early on when I'm working with them.
And, you know, what are the values driving her to perhaps behave in this way as well.
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. Like what are the pressures, like, what are the outcomes that need to be hit, you know, like, and then what are they being hit or not? You know? So it's a lot of it's, I mean, a lot of this stuff, when you get into business stuff, it's gotta be data driven.
And executives, people, they look at data, you know, data's, data's great. Um, just going off of feelings. Um, it's a messy business. You know, if you're in the people business, it's gonna be messy. Uh, but again, you got, you have to be able to manage that. You gotta be able, you gotta think like a professional, feel like a professional, you know, there's a certain competitive advantage if you have a very strong empathy muscle to get over and, and really, truly consider, like, what is it like to be them?
[Raj Anderson] So John, I know we're we're at time, but it sounds like the theme throughout this today has really been to step into other's shoes, isn't it? Really understand them and get a feel of their world.
How would you close us out today? What words of wisdom do you have?
[John Andrew Williams] Yeah. Um, I don't know. I mean, I feel like this is, I mean, it's even similar to the business building ideas.
Successful marketing is, involves empathy, you know, involves getting over there into your ideal client profile, getting in, you know, into their world. Successful business communication requires getting over there, getting into their world.
Yeah, it ties it all together.
I remember once when I was first getting coach training, like I was in, I was in the training pretty heavy and only a year or two later, I was playing with a one year old. And, I remember going empathetic with the one-year-old for about 15 minutes. This isn't like that coaching puppy stage. I'm like, I wonder if you can go empathetic with the one-year-old.
And it was not my one year old. I still remember it. It was a remarkable experience. It seems ridiculous, even just saying it out loud, like, what's the big deal? You know, like, but, but really like imagining what it was like to be her that one year old. In that space. It was, it, it just, I mean, to me, the, the just felt like the world just like became full of wonder, right?
It just became like this coddling or, you know, just like, and, uh, I, I think it's an exercise. I feel like it's a muscle. It's a muscle that everyone has. I've trained people in it. I've seen it myself, like how to go over, get empathy, like get, go into that space. Um, I feel like it's a muscle that you can stretch, you can improve.
It's something that I want to actively get better at too. I feel like it's the awareness of you can do this. It's really useful, and everyone can actively become better at it all the time. It's not like it's a one-time thing. It's a practice more than anything else.
[Raj Anderson] Thank you, John. A great reminder for us to close out on.
[John Andrew Williams] These questions are so lovely. I know next week you're gonna be meeting, uh, I won't be here next week with you. Ashley will be here, right?
[Raj Anderson] Yeah. International Women's Day.
[John Andrew Williams] Thank you. Thank you for this is, it's quite lovely.
[Raj Anderson] It's good to see you. Thank you and thank you John, and thank you everyone for listening. And as usual, send us your questions. Let us know if you even wanna appear on the podcast. So we look forward to hearing from everyone. Take care. Bye.
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