Coaching FAQS

Who needs coaching?

Almost everyone. Basically, anyone who wants to organize their thinking or time, try to accomplish something they have been thinking about for years, or anyone meeting new challenges that they think they are unequipped to tackle. For instance, a new role in an organization, or becoming a parent, and so.


How long does coaching last?

Typically, eight to 12 sessions, over three to six months. However, there are complex cases where the coaching engagement lasts much longer, for example, nine to twelve months. There are also cases where the coach is not only a coach in a pure professional coaching sense, but as a sounding board, thinking partner, facilitator of reflection, advisor, and consultant. In such cases, the relationship can last for several years.


How soon do you start seeing results?

It varies greatly. It depends on whether one is facing a wicked problem or a tame one. Generally speaking, one can get traction on tame problems in as little as three sessions. However, chronic wicked problems that have resisted change for years, might take as many as twelve sessions, or more. In fact, the first three sessions might be spent for the sole purpose of capturing the background of the issue and getting the details straight, in addition to building rapport.


How long are the sessions?

It varies by client. For some clients, a weekly session of one hour works fine. For others, an hour and half to two hours a week might be what is needed. Still, for others, it might be two hours every other week. This will depend on the time the client and coach have, and also on the complexity of the issue they want to explore. Finally, the client might start with weekly sessions and then might switch to every other week after a few weeks or months.


Some coaches offer “transformational coaching,” is that what you offer?

I am not a fan of buzzwords. Be skeptical of anyone who offers something like “be a millionaire in 10 sessions,” or “fulfill your dreams.” That is not to say that transformation does not happen on occasion or that occasionally people achieve great results in a short amount of time. My advice is to curb your enthusiasm and have realistic expectations about the coaching process. The success of the coaching process depends largely on the readiness of the client and their willingness to experiment and take action/measured risk.


Sometimes the client will get great insights, but they are not ready to for to take action. They might take action at a later point in the coaching cycle, or even (a long time) after it has ended. One way I see my job as a coach is the help the client make progress on their challenges; most coaching can help you make progress on an issue that you want to work on, but coaching can only take you where you are ready to go.


Is coaching often about long-term goals?

Often, the client wants to work on long-term goals, but needs to deal with more immediate concerns first. Once the pressing issues are brough to a manageable level, then the client has more time and energy to focus on longer-term goals. Depending on client needs we might vacillate between working on tactical (short-term) issues and strategic (medium and long-term) goals. This vacillation can help the client keep the strategic goals in mind while still working on more immediate stuff.


Do assign readings, videos to watch, or homework?

This will depend on the client. Some clients love reading, and/or watching anything that might be relevant to their situation; they are information sponges and they read and watch everything I suggest. Some clients will read some of the articles, and watch some of the videos, but not all. Finally, there is a third group of clients for whom I do not bother suggesting anything.


How do you know that coaching is working?

I check with the client at the end of each session about what worked and what did not. I also check at the midpoint of the coaching engagement (usually around the fourth or sixth session) to see how the client perceives their progress and what has changed for them.


Are there clients that you will not accept?

I avoid clients in industries that do more harm than good (for example, tobacco, fossil fuels, etc.). There are clients that bring in heavy material (for example trauma) and I can only handle one or two clients of this sort at any given time.


Are there clients that drive you crazy?

Sure, I had one client who kept telling me she wanted to be a coach because she was really good at giving advice and despite my modeling proper coaching (i.e., not giving advice) she, again and again, reiterated her desire to become a coach in order to give advice.


You authored a book on spirituality and meditation and you are currently co-editing a book on spirituality and leadership, how does this play into your coaching?

For me, coaching can produce a strong spiritual connection. As for the client, it depends on if spirituality is important for them or not. I use the wheel of life exercise and one of the eight categories is spirituality. Some clients will equate this with religion while others will not. Some will have a high score for spirituality, but it might not show up in the course of the coaching process. As for mediation, it has become so commonplace in the West that it is easy to bring it up as a suggestion where appropriate. As I point out in my book, while one can get a lot out of mindfulness meditation, there are hundreds of types of meditation and one has to find one that resonates for them. Also, mindfulness does not always equate with spirituality.