The International Coach Federation (ICF) recently shared that 30,000 people now have a coaching credential. What an incredible milestone. There are still a lot of folks out in the world calling themselves coaches, many who have little to no training. There is a mindset that says the coach training and credentials are an indicator of professionalism. Not only to a potential employer but also to raise the standard on the profession of coaching itself. In full transparency, I feel that investing in your industry’s professionalism is what gives a coach the right to use the title.
A Seismic Shift in Your Mindset – Becoming a Professional Coach
Over the past few years, one factor stands out with most new coach trainees with whom I’ve worked. There is a massive mindset shift required to become a coach. Moving from “helpful” to “useful.” This helpful mindset will not shift itself into a coaching mindset without a lot of support.
Developing yourself as a coach is about moving from the seduction of expertise and away from the talk, tell, and advise monster. Let’s just say, that’s a hard habit to break. Yet, it’s an important habit to move past.
Learning to let go and shift this mindset allows our client to be the expert. This move to being “useful,” asks you to partner with your clients, turning towards them as the leader in the conversation. This idea fits firmly with the neuroscience of change. We change when our brain lights up, not when our coach’s brain lights up.
Consider this, it is incredibly challenging to be in expert mode and listen deeply to what a client is saying. As the expert, it’s challenging to hear the deeper currents with a curious ear tuned towards an invitation to discover their insights. This is a skill that has to be developed.
Let’s Start with You
How many times have people given you advice on what to do or how to do it? Well-meaning, I am sure. Ask yourself, “Who owns the problem? The solution? And, who is ultimately the expert in and of your life?”
I ask these questions because, often in our own lives, we prefer to have help figuring out our own solutions, versus getting a cookie-cutter solution. If my goal is to lose weight, or write a book, or get a promotion, yes, there may be things I need to know. Yet the things that actually stop me aren’t outside of me, but rather they are inside of me. It’s the narrative that I am an imposter, or that I am not good enough, or [insert your story here.]
Remember the ‘iceberg theory,’ what is below the waterline drives actions and results. It’s only through the exploration of these deeper, more meaningful issues below the waterline that we move through inertia and into well-directed action. Without developing a coaching mindset and being curious below the waterline, we may not ask the important questions that encourage sustainable changes for our clients.
Light Up Your Clients Brain
Research repeatedly confirms what we know for ourselves. Studies show that people need to have their minds light up with their own embodied self-awareness. That telling people what the “should” do is counterintuitive. It feels good for the coach, but it doesn’t offer lasting insights for the client.
While the intention is to be helpful and support change, people don’t actually work like that. Your client hears the words, but because the ideas don’t originate in their mind, they are likely to forget what they were told. A well-trained coach understands how to ask questions that support the inside out origination of ideas that allow the client to connect the dots.
Developing Your Coaching Mindset
Of the many people I have been a part of their coaching training and mentoring, many say that I have made the coaching concepts simple. By exploring the process and supporting their self-awareness, these professionally developing coaches understand the container of a conversation and listen to the deeper, more essential issues below the waterline. Through self reflection, coaches get the support to expand their capacity to listen and develop their capacity for a coaching mindset. Ever evolving.
I’ve helped 100’s of professional coaches develop their coaching chops and successfully get their credentials. I feel honored to have played a small part in that 30,000 credentialed achievement.
Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC, author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life, is a Leadership Confidence and Whole Life Coach. Lyssa works with coaches who are ready to apply for their ICF credentials. Lyssa is an ICF Certified Mentor Coach and course leader with an international coaching school. She uses her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies and her knowledge of Neuroscience to work with Professional Coaches and support them in their coach development. If you would like to meet to see if we are a good fit, let's do it!
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article originally posted on Dec 2, 2019. Updated Feb 16, 2023.