All engagements can be powerful, but significant, positive changes require coach and client to be well-matched (great chemistry), and client to be at an important inflection point in their development.
Champion athletes receive frequent coaching. Similarly, the best executives and aspiring leaders -- the ones who you want to retain -- are curious and hungry for new ways to upgrade their games. They are learners. They get ongoing feedback from others, learn lessons from misses or failures, adapt to change, undertake additional education, and many get coaching. They are often exceptional among their colleagues either because they are hungry to learn or ambitious to grow their careers.
For most others, a significant self-development effort is a matter of readiness: the right time and the right mindset. Absent those, there’s simply not sufficient fuel driving the engine of change. It’s critical for those doing the suggesting (e.g., Boss, Colleague, Talent Management Leaders, or even spouse/partner or friend), and for the executive or aspiring leader, to have a good sense that "ok, now the timing is right," or "gee, not the best time."
Despite careful screening, I’ve often been presented to prospective clients simply because the organization or boss—and not the executive—feel they “need a coach.” The prospective client may not see a compelling reason for it, but didn’t say “No, thank you.” Most don’t want to appear ungrateful for the offer, admit they’re too busy, or seem uninterested in their own development.
Yet candor would go a long way in those situations.
Candor is also helpful for the coach and client to assess chemistry of how they might work together. That is, a great coaching relationship starts with very strong and positive ability of each (coach and client) to connect and communicate smoothly. The best way I've found to suss this out in an initial conversation (when being considered to coach someone) is to ask the "client" to offer up an actual situation and let's coach through it. That's an opportunity for both to see - okay, what would this be like?
Experience shows that absent that exceptional built-in self-development drive I mentioned before, strong readiness / desire / fire / capacity of the potential coachee need to be present to ensure the bang for the development dollar, not to mention a good use of everyone’s time and effort.
Maybe there’s an elusive goal, a strong desire to get to the next level, a big hairy problem to solve—these are learning propellants. Just because others see a problem, issue, or opportunity, or that someone's in a new challenging role, in transition, or struggling with an existing one, doesn’t mean they need to say yes.
We coaches have a responsibility, too, to say, "Um, not a good fit," either for chemistry or readiness -- and the best of us do that without hesitation, and in a respectful manner (i.e., in collaboration with, and given the permission of the prospective client, and their local Talent Management.)
Bring on the constant learners all day long -- we love to coach them. For the majority of others, it's a combination of capacity, inflection point, chemistry with the propspective coach, and desire. That's when coaching is at its best in terms of outcomes.
Principal and Senior Executive Coach