It has been a joy and honor to coach and connect with many leaders over the last twenty years. When reflecting on clients who seemed to get the most traction, enjoyed the most success, and obtained the best results from coaching, there are a few common themes. (Note: If you are in coaching, these themes will help you self-assess how to get greater benefit from coaching.)

Five things people who get traction in coaching do:

  1. MINDSET. They fully show up in coaching and see it as a gift. They do not see themselves as someone to be fixed or that anything is wrong with them. Sure, they might have an issue, challenge, or pressure point they want to address, but fundamentally they see coaching as a support to assist them to become the leader and person they desire. Coaching is a tool and pathway forward. They are rigorous with themselves and their ongoing growth. In contrast, leaders who feel “they are fine”, “working hard”, and “doing their best” tend to be more defensive and struggle to progress because they are not leading the self-discovery.  They are participating but lack a strong level of self-motivation to grow, improve and maximize how they show up in the world.
  2. PREPARED & TRANSPARENT.  They show up to coaching with an “agenda.” They have a topic they are eager to discuss. They are hungry to learn, get perspective, reflect on a way of thinking, figure something out, check for blind spots, and upgrade an approach. They are open, honest, and vulnerable. They do not feel the need to “look good”, justify or defend their thinking or behavior. They know their coach loves them and holds their brilliance. They can be raw and put their unfiltered thoughts on the table so that they can sharpen and advance how they feel, think, and operate. Those who get less out of coaching show up waiting for the coach to help them discover what they could work on. While that is possible, it is much less powerful than a self-identified topic.
  3. ASK QUESTIONS & ARE CURIOUS. They are tenacious with their learning. They are willing to read and learn outside of coaching. They have an area that they are wanting to develop and on their own, dig into it to accelerate and support their coaching process.  They have greater awareness and insights as they surround themselves with content to support their reflection, upskilling, and transformation. They get the information however possible: reading books, book summaries, listening to audio, etc. They are on a path of learning and constantly are looking for additional places to support their growth. They are mindful and practice self-awareness and self-observation. They are connecting and looking for life examples that are relevant to the topic they are working on to assess if they are learning and mastering the distinct goal/shift.  In contrast, those who do not do as well in coaching, use coaching sessions as the sole source for growing in that area. The time between coaching is busy and the topic discussed in coaching is not thought about much.
  4. COMMITTED & ADVANCING ACTION. They take their coaching homework seriously and prepare before calls to make sure they have moved actions forward. They do reflection, journaling, and fieldwork discussed in the coaching call, not because it is coaching homework, but because it is worthy of reflection and greater thought. They are intentional about doing their coaching homework between calls and act on the things discussed. While they might not finish all the tasks, they enjoy that they have moved forward since the last call. Like the Laws of Attraction, it is not just the desire and intention but also the activity to try, fail and advance. They are willing to take a risk and put their hands and feet in motion to experiment with and implement concepts explored in coaching. Not because coaching is so wise, but because the coaching conversations were supporting activities that would close a gap, upgrade skills, and advance a goal or effort that is needed.  In contrast, those who do not get as much out of coaching want to do the activity, but the busy press of work and life crowd out making these “important” actions a priority. Many clients have seasons they are getting more traction and there is a natural ebb and flow of growth to implementation, but there is a willingness and grit that those who make more traction have. It is really the summary of “what you put into something you get out of it”.  It isn’t about guilt but just knowing action equals traction!
  5. JOURNAL. There is an unarguable difference between clients who JOURNAL and those who do not. While many leaders are not natural journalers, those who make it part of their process literally grow faster, have more insights and discover related topics that are important to support their growth (holistic change and transformation). In contrast, those who do not might find themselves stuck on a topic because the common snag remains a mystery. Many are unfamiliar with journaling and writing about their day seems pointless. However, the shift happens when they take questions that come to their mind in coaching or from the coaching notes and write their thoughts on that topic. It is another type of processing that allows unfiltered and heartfelt sharing. Connections and insights happen when thought is not interrupted, and the body has time to allow digestion of feelings and thoughts.

I am sure there are more, but these are a few consistent things clients who really leverage their coaching do. If you are coaching and some of these are new. Consider starting with one and building on it!