Perfect Clients

After a dozen years as a business coach, I’ve interacted with hundreds of leaders – many in one-on-one coaching sessions and a lot in both small and large groups. A few I have worked with for more than 200 sessions. Some have become good friends. Many enjoyed the coaching experience and moved on to the next phase of their business/careers. A handful stuck their toes in the waters, weren’t willing to commit to change and quickly exited the growth highway.

Recently I saw someone’s profile of the four characteristics of the ‘perfect’ coaching client:

Learner – Continuously develops her talents
Accountable – Open to new approaches and willing to change
Investor – Committed to investing his or the company’s money in outside expertise
Humble – Knows she doesn’t have all the answers and wants to grow through others

This is an excellent description… although not quite complete. I would add these attributes:

Trusting – Believes the coach has his best interests at heart
Curious – Asks a lot of questions about other leaders’ approaches
Transparent – Willing to open up and share what she believes and how she does things
Vulnerable – Understands that he may hear some things about himself that are surprising

The arc of one of my engagements is fast start, lengthy plateau and glide to the finish. There are many tools we utilize early on, such as: personality style assessments; 360 feedback from supervisors, peers and direct reports; and, in-the-moment ‘shadowing’ of personal interactions. Then the person being coached (PBC) creates a development plan… and the ongoing sessions are coaching to the plan. At the end, there is typically a handoff from the leader to her boss – so momentum continues after my time there is complete.

Regardless of a coach’s preferred style, the most important part of the process is the PBC is willing to take the first step to improving his/her leadership abilities. If that occurs, great things await down the road.


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