Holding your client’s agenda – and releasing your own – is a crucial skill of a coach that ensures you as a coach are coaching your client, not the problem.
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PART # 2:
HOLDING THE CLIENT’S AGENDA
Holding the client’s agenda is one of the most fundamental components of successful coaching. When a coach holds the client’s agenda, he or she focuses on facilitating the needs of the client over any personal opinions, judgements, or ideas. The client comes first, and the coach is guided by the notion that the client has all of the answers – he or she just might need someone to ask the right questions to find them.
It is natural to want to give advice or share our opinions with people we are having a conversation with. However, in coaching, the focus is on the client and the agenda that she or he has decided upon. Clients learn and grow by discovering what works and does not work on their own, and it is important to give them the lead in designing their own action steps.
WHY HOLDING A CLIENT’S AGENDA WORKS
Holding your client’s agenda works because most of the time, deep down, people know what they most need to do. If they are not yet aware of the answer, simply asking them can help:
- “What is it that you really, really want?”
- “What do you know you need to do, but haven’t done yet?”
The partnership that you create with your client is valuable in the sense that it clears the path for you to focus solely on your client’s needs. By determining what the client really wants, and holding her or his agenda throughout coaching, the coach allows clarity to guide the client’s understanding and deepen awareness of what is important.
THE WHEEL OF LIFE
The Wheel of Life is a coaching tool that is designed to assess your client’s level of satisfaction in various areas of his or her life, at the present moment. It is a great, quick tool that allows clients to see a visual snapshot of the balance in their lives. From this initial snapshot, and with the help of a few simple questions, the clients are able to uncover connections between various areas of their lives and decide which areas they would like to focus on going forward.
The Wheel of Life consists of 10 wedges, each labeled with a specific area of the client’s life:
- Career: Overall experience with the state of their career
- Money: How happy (or unhappy) the client is with his or her financial situation
- Family: Immediate family; they may break this wedge into two (immediate as in their home, and extended as in parents/siblings)
- Significant Other: How satisfied they are either in their relationship or if single, how they feel about that.
- Friends: How are their relationships?
- Community: How connected they feel to whatever definition of community means to them.
- Fun: Is there time for fun and relaxation?
- Health: How healthy the client feels; exercise and diet
- Living Space: How clean or messy is their space and how does that feel? How happy they are with where they live?
- Growth: Is personal and spiritual growth occurring?
As a coach, you or your client can always omit, add, or separate labels to fit the client’s needs.
For students, the wheel can be modified a bit; school replaces career, grades replace money, and significant other and community can be omitted. These are just suggestions of ways to modify the wheel for younger clients, but always be sure that the wheel you are using is structured to meet your client’s needs.
Once the structure of the wheel is established, the coach asks the client to rate his or her current satisfaction with each area of life on a scale of one to ten. By physically filling in the wedges, the client will be able to get a great visual of not only each section, but everything as a whole.
Ask a friend if they will be your practice client for a short life coaching activity and explain the Wheel of Life exercise.
Help your client create the wheel by determining the ten areas of his or her life he or she wants to use. (The wheel shown above was designed for adults).
Write each label around the outer edge of the wheel
Ask your client to rate their current level of satisfaction for each area on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most satisfied.
Ask your client powerful questions such as:
- Looking at your wheel, what jumps out at you?
- If you were to choose just one wedge and do one action to increase that number from a 7 to an 8 (for instance), what would that action be?
- Do you want to follow through with the action? If so, how could we confirm follow-through?
In the discussion following the creation of their wheel, make sure to emphasize to the client that he or she does not need to aim for a 10 in every section. The idea is to simply try to increase her or his level of satisfaction one notch higher.
Create one or two possible actions to take from this exercise.
It’s recommended to write the date on your wheel. It’s useful to save previous wheels and look back on them to see the effect of your insights and actions on your life.