Share your ideas directly with me at Lyssadehart at gmail.com
Lyssa Danehy deHart, MSW, LICSW, PCC
Dear Master Coach
Dear Master Coach:
I’m ready for a full practice. How’d you do that? I mean, you’re well-respected, you’re not smarmy, I’ve heard you talk about how really good work keeps finding you and doggone it, people like you. Yours truly, Ready to Serve
I know. Wouldn’t it be nice if after all the work of getting the ICF seal of approval you just started getting email from people who were desperate to work with you? There are ten things I started doing 20 years ago. Check out the summer edition of DMC for the first five. Here are the second five:
6. Play this game: You’ve got eight minutes in front of 100 great people. Let’s say it’s a very diverse audience (backgrounds, races, cultures, politics, faiths, ages, genders and coachable issues). And let’s say that, seated among the 100 are ten people you’d love to work with—these ten would be fascinating, challenging and fun. They would be people you would look forward to seeing and co-creating work with. Also present are many more people who are attentive but have zero interest in your services (at least right now)—this is normal, your best can’t possibly appeal to everyone. What will you say so that at the end of your eight minutes the ten people will seek you out? Will you be open to being surprised?
7. Spend at least a half-day a week on my first six ideas until you’ve got a steady flow of increasingly ideal clients. Then keep doing it. Think of this as overcoming initial inertia and getting momentum on your side—like rowing a boat or riding a bike. Put the equivalent of a day a week into delighting and connecting people with your services. This may include writing, speaking, responding, serving, praying, pitching, creating, offering and preparing. Word-of-mouth will begin to happen. You’ll need about another day a week to pay attention to business details.
8. Respect the market and your competition. Find your voice and look for the needs. The 2012 Coaching Study commissioned by the ICF found that the average income of a credentialed coach was $47,900. That’s average. As we all know, the range is gigantic. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a free-enterprise geek. In the words of the great football running back, Emitt Smith, "All men are created equal, some work harder in pre-season."
9. And finally, you’ve got to do this stuff in your own way or you won’t do it. It’s true that the majority of certified coaches who want to be entrepreneurial coaches don’t ever make the income they’d like to make. What’s the old saying? “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” And stay mindful of the dynamic balance between effort and recovery in your life. Ethical coaches build lives that reflect their convictions as a coaching leader. This is true both at the starting line and for when you are a Jedi Master.
10. Do really good work for a really long time. In my experience, getting discovered is a marathon. Building a great practice and reputation isn’t burglary. You don’t break into it. It’s a long, steady blend of visibility + good work + profitability (repeat).
Those are my ten secrets. I look forward to your thoughts.
You can do this!
Listen to Patricia Burgin’s “Dear Master Coach” quarterly 4 minute answers at: www.seattlecoach.com/dear-master-coach-blog
The Business of Coaching
Lessons Learned from a Coach-Client Mismatch
By Beth L. Buelow, PCC, TheIntrovertEntrepreneur.com
We’re coaches. And that means usually, we are an intuitive bunch, able to read people and know what’s swirling on an energetic level. That’s at least how we show up when we’re coaching a client, right? Fully present, paying attention to our gut, being curious, speaking truth.
And yet… sometimes, that intuition and awareness takes a leave of absence when we’re in the client acquisition phase. We’re having a different type of conversation, and we have something of an agenda: to discern if there’s a good fit between us and a potential client, and if so, to enroll the client.
Our mindset during that process plays an influential role in how much of our intuition we tap into. It can be easy to stuff away the thought, “I don’t know about this” if we’re in a place of financial scarcity. We can justify “hmmm, this one will be a handful” by saying we love a good challenge. We might not want to let down the person who referred the client to us. Those are only a few of the reasons why we might choose to ignore or otherwise dismiss that niggling feeling that the match might be less than ideal.
How do you avoid being in that situation? The short answer: be clear on who your ideal client is. Don’t lead from scarcity. Trust your gut. Be willing to say up front, “not a good fit.”
But what happens when you do those things, you enter a partnership, and one, two, or even three sessions into it, realize it’s not a match made in heaven?
That’s what happened to me recently. The client contacted me based on a referral from a trusted source. On paper, he checked all my ideal-client boxes: an introvert entrepreneur, successful and ambitious, goal oriented, and a desire to strengthen his leadership skills and improve relationships while managing his introvert energy. Sure, he had a strong personality and seemed a bit rough around the edges when it came to his communication style, but I could handle that. Softening those edges was one reason he came to coaching (or so I thought). And I’ve grown in my capacity to work with what some might consider to be an “alpha-male” personality, so hey, I’m up for the challenge!
Can you see where this is going?
We did okay for a few sessions, making some progress on a his objectives. But I had this feeling before, during, and after each call that we weren’t clicking. I’d get too much into my head during a session, struggling to find the – or any – question that would land with him. I noticed I was working too hard to coach… a sure sign that there was a disconnect. It was easier in the moment, though, to blame myself. To say, “That’s a growth edge for me. He’s bringing out my weaknesses that need to be confronted and fixed at some point, so why not now? There must be a reason he’s my client.”
It was after our third regular session that I couldn’t see any way forward. Again, we had a moment or two of connection. Overall, though, there was no ease, no flow. In fact, I started to sense that he was a bully who wanted to want to change, but he didn’t have the level of self-awareness that coaching on that topic requires.
Another point that pushed me over the edge and made it easy to cut the cord: even though he had ample financial resources, he was late in paying his invoice… two months in a row.
Because of his direct personality, I thought he would be the first to say it wasn’t working. That didn’t happen. That meant I was going to have to be the one to say, in so many words, “I’m just not that into you.”
I agonized a bit about how to do it. We didn’t have our next session on the calendar, and I didn’t want to blindside him completely. I did a bit of Googling on best practices, then decided that email was best.
Here’s how I opened the email (with the subject line “Our Coaching Partnership”):
I then briefly shared my experience of feeling there was a disconnect between our styles. Specifically, I said: “I sense that my style doesn’t align with what would support you best in making the progress you want. There have been moments when there’s been a connection, and I want to acknowledge that. That said, I more consistently feel I’m struggling to figure out what approach is going to be effective. …There are too many other coaches out there with whom you will find that connection; for me, it’s not in integrity to continue together when you could be receiving more aligned support elsewhere.”
It also felt important to note his disregard for the logistical agreements we’d set, so I stated that my trust in the partnership had been eroded because of his lack of timely responses to invoices and requests for scheduling. Then I noted a few of his positive traits and outcomes of our time together, and wrapped up by wishing him well.
The short, direct response I received within an hour – “Very intuitive on your part. Agreed.” – affirmed that I did the right thing. And if he’d kicked and screamed, it would have been doubly affirmative!
Here’s the learning I want to offer for your consideration:
Client mismatches happen. Sometimes you can see them from the get-go, other times they only reveal themselves after a few sessions. Being clear on your ideal client goes a long way in helping you to avoid it, but it’s not a foolproof formula.
When those mismatches happen, be willing to name it and act on it sooner rather than later. It’s more than just a painful hour with someone; it’s the psychic and emotional energy it takes up before, during, and after the sessions that is the most confidence- and soul-crushing part.
Take time to reflect on what role you and the client each played in the mismatch. What did your gut tell you at the start? As the partnership progressed? What cancelled its voice out? Where was the disconnect? What do you want to take responsibility for? What responsibility does the client hold? Some of this information might become part of what you share with the client, and some of it might simply be a data point for future consideration.
Once you’ve identified that, figure out what’s important to communicate. In my case, it was that there was a communication style disconnect and that he didn’t honor our agreements. I maybe could have named a few other points that contributed to my decision… for instance, that there was a values misalignment, or that I didn’t want to work with a bully. But that wouldn’t have served the partnership and wasn’t necessary to name.
Be clear if there’s anything that could change about the agreement that would result in the partnership continuing. If making a bold request – “Honor our agreement by paying your invoice on time” – might turn things around, and you feel there’s mutual investment in the relationship, share that. Otherwise, don’t leave the door open for negotiation.
Decide, based on the relationship, how you want to communicate your decision. I’m sure some people would never choose email, just as others would think a “we need to talk” phone call would put the client on the spot. Consider how each would feel, and even how you would want to be told if you were in the client’s position. Choose the way that feels most respectful and in integrity.
Take action. Once you know it’s time, do it quickly and compassionately. Rip the Band-Aid off. If the partnership feels “off” to you, chances are high that it feels “off” for the client. Don’t allow it to consume any more resources of time, money, or energy than necessary.
Reflect on what you learned. Even if we know it was the right thing to do, and even if it was a “it’s not me, it’s you” situation, we can still question our competence as a coach. Certainly as I considered what wasn’t working in the partnership with the aforementioned client, I could identify areas where I could build my skills. And, I want to build those skills with a client with whom I have resonance. That’s the twist that helps me to own my part in the mismatch while feeling positive moving forward. Affirm your capacity and skill, own your growth edges, and keep on coaching.
Great coaching partnerships happen when there’s mutual trust, respect, safety, and commitment. Don’t deprive either of you of that rich and rewarding experience. To quote from my favorite “Inner Peace” card from Wayne Dyer, “If you meet someone whose soul is not aligned with yours, send them love and move along.”
© 2017, Beth L. Buelow
First Town Hall - Leading into the Future
contributed by Sharmin Banu
We had our very first Town Hall meeting on Sept 6. It was a dialog among our members, board, and ICF Global leaders. Three ICF Global leaders, April Summerford, ICF Regional Development Advocate, Matt Varney, ICF Strategic Director North America, Latin America and the Caribbean and Colmon Elridge, ICF Vice President of Global Development and Membership flew in to join us.
We learned that our members most care about these three major areas
1. Promoting Coaching
2. Membership benefit- As a member how my business can benefit?
3. Any upcoming legislative issues concerning coaching
We have started aligning our strategies with these areas. The Fishbowl coaching event was open for all to help promote coaching. We invited non-coaches and coaching consumers by advertising the event broadly on social media and writing articles about it. We posted the live event on our Facebook page, ICF Washington State. Our event has encouraged other ICF Chapters worldwide.
6th Annual Fishbowl
We had our most popular annual event, the Fishbowl coaching on Sept 21st. It was a great example of co-creation with the members, coaches and the panelists. There was two masterful coaching sessions each of those was followed by audience discussion and panel comments. It received a very positive feedback from the audience. The committee, although was comprised of mostly brand new volunteers, accomplished a tremendous job by their talent, energy and commitment. In their own words, they took away Team work, Leadership, Expansion and Connection. We posted the photos and videos on ICF Washington State on Facebook and also shared via other social media outlets.
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