5 Mistakes Coaches Should Avoid

Fact: We can all learn from our mistakes.

So, we must not be afraid to commit them. Because it is only by being brave enough to try that we get to fully maximize every opportunity we have to become our own #bestmeever. In this case, become the awesome coaches we are meant to be. 

By sharing some of the mistakes I made when I was starting in my practice a couple of years ago, I may be able to help other coaches learn along the way. So, allow me to share with you five more mistakes coaches should avoid:

1) Having Canned Questions

You probably have your own favorite set of questions. We all do. That’s part of our signature session. However, we must not let the full session revolve around questions we prepared ahead of time. It’s our job as coaches to listen, to be in the now, to “dance” alongside our clients and not to preempt anything. Take things as they are, listen intently, and adjust your questions to be in alignment. Remember: It’s not about your signature coaching style; what matters more is being able to adjust it accordingly to give your clients their much-deserved clarity. 

2) Being Uncomfortable with Silence

Truth be told: Silence is beautiful. Please take note that silence doesn’t necessarily mean that the client is not engaged in the session or is no longer interested in what you have to ask. In fact, it may be otherwise. As a coach, remember that you don’t have to fill in the silence with a bunch of unnecessary questions. There are times when your presence is more than enough and simply by listening patiently you are helping your clients arrive at their breakthroughs at their own pace and in their own space.

3) Not Looking or Being Your Best During a Session

It is very important to look and play the part of a coach. It’s not an excuse that you’re working from home or somewhere remote or if you just had a long, hard day. Your clients deserve your 100%, so don’t shortchange them by not preparing for your session fully. Make sure that you face them in the most decent and attentive manner. If you can’t commit to that, reschedule the session. You don’t want to make a lousy impression or lose your focus because you are not fully present.

4) Not Being Flexible with the Coaching Flow

A coaching program follows a structure, and it’s nice to be guided week after week on what needs to be done. However, we cannot force our clients to work on what we scheduled for them initially for the day if they have other concerns. It’s not just about being on track with timelines. It’s also being mindful enough to sway the coaching session towards where our clients want it to go as we keep their hearts and minds on track instead. Allow them to take the lead and create a session based on the prompts they give. Your prepared tool kits and activities can wait; your clients’ clarity and well-being can’t.

5) Brushing Off the Importance of Check-Ins and Check-Outs

Ever heard of the terms “warm up” and “cool down?” Much like in exercising, they are just as important in coaching. Doing those intentionally allows you to manage your client’s space. With check-ins, you get to identify what key areas can be focused on for a particular session, and check-outs help you understand your client’s takeaway and monitor their own change of space. Don’t rush into the session without warming up the client and encouraging them to share. And don’t end it abruptly without allowing them to decompress with you as you talk about new learnings and discoveries.  

When in doubt, refer to the ICF’s Core Competencies and Code of Ethics so you can navigate your way smoothly in each and every coaching session that you have. At the end of the day, know that it’s OK to make mistakes. You just have to be humble enough to admit them. 

And don’t forget to make up for them, thereafter.