Ten Guidelines of Professional Coaching

The goal of coaching is to empower clients, not to prescribe or advise as an expert. This is an area where many non-coach helping professionals may struggle because they’re so used to being the source of knowledge and interventions and that is what their clients expect of them.

Coaching, however, requires a different paradigm: one where the information flows from the bottom up rather than from the top down. That is, an effective coach supports, emphasizes, and encourages the latent or neglected strengths of a client. He or she does not “diagnose and treat.”

The art of coaching involves facilitating learning while holding our client as the expert on their life and what works for them. Here are some guidelines to help conceptualize the role of the coach and client in professional coaching:

1. Coaching is not consulting or therapy.

Coaching empowers by assuming your client is the expert who is capable of achieving goals. Your job is to support action. Consulting typically provides advice and solutions, while therapy typically focuses on insight and resolution of emotional issues. Because these approaches are so different, as a coach you should be clear about these distinctions, educate your client about them, and make choices about the nature of the coaching relationship that are in the best interests of your client.

2. A Coach helps the client focus on the bigger picture.

Coaching is not effective when isolating your client’s goals from the rest of their life, such as work, love relationships, family, friends, wellness, spirituality, etc.

3. A Coach shares knowledge, experience and information without attachment.

Sharing expertise and information with your client is very different from any other type of helping relationship. It’s necessary to address your client’s skills and knowledge deficits; however, you should do so in a way that supports them to discover and “own” their truth.

4. A Coach assumes a goal is part of the journey, not the destination.

You support your client to focus on meaning, connection, living a balanced life, and working towards long-term goals.

5. A Coach assumes that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.

The Law of Attraction dictates that “like attracts like” and what is inside shows up on the outside. You want to help your client set goals in alignment with their values, make choices in alignment with their goals, take responsibility for their outcomes and allow themselves to be authentically who they are (because they can’t be anyone else!).

6. A Coach does not judge right or wrong, good or bad.

Your client is the expert on themselves, and as a coach you must honor their truth and agenda. While you may have judgments, you don’t impose them on your client. Rather, you lead your client through a process of discovery through which they are empowered to make the choices that are right for them.

7. A Coach does not seek to get personal needs met with clients or prospective clients.

An ethical coach values being of service above all else, holds the coaching relationship sacred, and doesn’t allow a personal agenda to interfere with this commitment.

8. A Coach addresses their clients’ sabotaging attitudes and choices without making them wrong.

Assume that “attitude precedes outcome” and skillfully help your client become aware of the connection between attitudes (beliefs, interpretations, etc), choices and consequences. You support your client in making their own judgments and decisions about their choices in alignment with their vision, purpose, requirements, needs and goals. You may internally disagree and judge your client “wrong,” but you don’t impose your judgment upon them.

9. A Coach is neutral about the outcome for the client.

You shouldn’t be attached to any particular outcome. Instead, you should acknowledge that your client is in charge of their life, choices, and outcomes. As a coach, you work hard to support you client, but you don’t work harder than the client. You need to hold your client accountable for their actions and results.

10. A Coach “walks the talk” by continually addressing his or her own personal development, challenges, and goals.

You can only help your clients along paths that you have traveled yourself – and no further. And so, you must continually strive to be conscious and intentional in your life and relationships. This includes furthering your own learning and development by working with a coach or mentor, on-going training, and other means. How can we expect prospective clients to hire us for coaching if we don’t walk our talk and work with a coach ourselves? Look at it this way- “Investing in yourself will help your prospective clients see the value of investing in working with you.”

Coaching is a positive, empowering, and highly effective methodology for helping others to achieve their most important life, relationship, and business goals. Being a Professional Coach is the best job in the world!

If you’re a therapist or other helping professional attracted to coaching for expanding your practice and boosting your income by working with more functional, private pay clients, coaching is most likely a good fit for you.

Related Articles:
What is Coaching?
14 Compelling Reasons to Use a Professional Coach