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Qualifying Marker #3: Coaching Presence

Coaching presence is a core competency that aims to check whether or not a coach has divested themselves of the expert role and has put themselves fully into the client’s world. The key to this competency is allowing yourself to have a childlike curiosity about what it’s like to be your client. Empathy for the shifts in energy and subtleties of your client’s speech, pausing, and body language allows the coach/client relationship to deepen and strengthen, reinforcing this marker and core competency.

Does the coach respond to the client’s big agenda for their life and the immediate session agenda?

This marker checks whether the coach holds the larger vision of the client or stops the client from exploring what they want on a larger scale in their life. Let’s say the session agenda is to develop additional action steps to get to the gym. The larger agenda addresses the whole person and whether or not the client can follow through on accountabilities, especially when those accountabilities bring up something that might be painful or make the client feel shame. The larger agenda helps the client to take positive action steps even in the face of negative self-talk. The smaller agenda is getting the client to become very clear on those action steps and designing accountability to follow through. This marker asks whether or not you have the sensitivity and awareness to address both that larger agenda and the smaller, immediate, and explicit agenda at hand.

Is the coach observant, empathetic, and responsive?

This is a relatively straightforward question and can be demonstrated by asking questions about the subtleties of your client’s speech, pauses, and body language. For example, if the client chuckles after saying something or has an automatic exclamation, a coach should ask, “What was the chuckle for?” The question is not a challenge to the client but rather an invitation to explore further. The coach’s energy should be pure, childlike curiosity and not that of an investigator trying to use clues to figure something out or catch your client doing something they shouldn’t be doing. You’re there to observe, empathize, and respond in a curious and exploratory manner, ultimately to serve your client. 

Does the coach notice and explore energy shifts in the client?

This marker is slightly more specific than the one preceding it. With this marker, instead of looking at something explicit that your client says, you notice a word or a pause, asking whether or not you are attuned to the different energy levels of your client. It’s asking whether or not you can follow along with and be sensitive to the ups and downs in the energetic field of the coaching call.

Does the coach exhibit curiosity to gain more learning?

This marker looks at whether or not coaches are asking questions about information a client already knows, such as “how many children do you have?” or “how many siblings do you have?” Does the coach ask questions out of curiosity or to help the client learn more insights that the client might not have previously explored? Asking questions that derive insights helps the coach express a strong coaching presence because the coach assumes no expert role. The coach doesn’t need to gather that much information from the client. A coach’s main priority is to help the client gain new insights.

Does the coach partner with a client to help the client choose how to spend the coaching session?

This marker looks at the energy of partnership. It asks whether or not you are allowing the client to choose the directions that the coaching session takes. Will you go in the direction your client needs and always check in with your client on how you are doing, following the original agenda set at the beginning of the coaching session?

Does the coach fight the client to take or not take a coach’s input and fully embrace whatever response the client gives?

The coach will inevitably suggest a direction that the coaching session should go in, share intuitive thoughts, or make a bold guess. The client may come back with a response of "Yes, that applies to me" or "No, not at all." Is a coach attached to their input, or do they release it and follow the client's interests? This marker looks for how well you can release attachments to your contributions and follow 100% of the client's input and direction.

Does the coach partner with the client by repeating the different options, possibilities, and directions a client can go? Does the coach allow the client to choose their direction? 

This marker checks whether or not a coach accurately reflects the different options to the client and allows the client to choose which option to take within the session. It requires both the skill of reflection as well as not being attached to your coaching opinion.

Does the coach allow the client to articulate what they are learning from the coaching session?

This marker checks the degree to which a coach trusts the client to generate their own learning. The coach trusts the client to such a degree that the coach becomes the learner, and the client becomes a better teacher. It asks you to become so curious that your questions provoke insight from the client that allows them to formulate their learning.

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