In coaching, First principles should be based on the fundamental beliefs and values that guide the coaching process. These principles should form the foundation for all coaching activities and focus on key elements. When seeking out the help of a coach, ask yourself these basic questions:
- Do I trust this person?
- Do I feel heard?
- Does the person understand my goals?
- Can this person help me develop a plan I can execute?
- What are the ways that this person will help me hold myself accountable?
- Does the person provide enough positive reinforcement and candor to help me grow?
Here are some examples of the application of each of the principles:
Do I trust this person?
Trust and Confidentiality: A coach should build trust and establish a confidential relationship with their client. This will create a safe space where clients can share their thoughts, feelings, and challenges without fear of judgment. Sometimes, you accept trust as a given and see where the relationship takes you.
- A coaching client is struggling with a personal issue that they are embarrassed to share with anyone. The coach assures the client that all information shared in the coaching sessions is strictly confidential and that the client can trust them to provide a safe and non-judgmental space to discuss their concerns.
- A coaching client is a high-profile executive dealing with a stressful work situation. The coach assures the client that all information shared in the coaching sessions will be kept confidential and that the client can trust the coach to provide a safe and confidential space to discuss their concerns.
Do I feel heard?
Active Listening: A coach should be an active listener, paying close attention to the client’s words, tone, and body language. This will help the coach understand the client’s situation and develop appropriate coaching strategies.
- During a coaching session, a client is concerned about their communication skills with their boss. The coach listens carefully to the client’s words and tone and also observes their body language to understand better the underlying issues that may be affecting their communication. The coach then uses this information to guide the coaching process and develop appropriate strategies to address the client’s concerns.
- A coaching client is an entrepreneur who is dealing with a difficult business situation. During a coaching session, the coach listens carefully to the client’s concerns and asks open-ended questions to help the client explore possible solutions and options.
Does the person understand my goals?
Goal Setting: A coach should work with the client to set clear, measurable, and achievable goals. These goals should be aligned with the client’s values and aspirations and should be specific, time-bound, and challenging yet realistic.
- A client approaches a coach for career coaching, seeking guidance on how to advance in their current position. The coach works with the client to identify specific, measurable goals that align with the client’s values and aspirations, such as acquiring new skills or taking on more responsibility in their current role.
- A coaching client is a recent graduate who is seeking career guidance. The coach works with the client to identify specific career goals, such as finding a job in their desired field or pursuing further education and develops a plan to help the client achieve these goals.
Can this person help me develop a plan I can execute?
Action Planning: A coach should work with the client to develop a plan of action that will help them achieve their goals. This plan should include specific steps and milestones, as well as a timeline for completion.
- After identifying specific goals, the coach works with the client to develop a plan of action that includes specific steps and milestones. For example, the client may need to take a specific course, attend a conference or workshop, or complete a particular project in order to achieve their goals.
- A coaching client is an executive who is seeking to improve their leadership skills. The coach works with the client to develop an action plan that includes specific steps and milestones, such as attending a leadership training program or setting up regular feedback sessions with their team.
What are the ways that this person will help me hold myself accountable?
Accountability: A coach should hold the client accountable for their actions and progress towards their goals. This will help the client stay motivated and focused, and will also provide opportunities for reflection and learning.
- The coach holds the client accountable for their progress towards their goals by regularly checking in on their progress and providing feedback. For example, the coach may set up weekly or monthly progress reviews to help the client stay on track and identify any obstacles that may be hindering their progress.
- A coaching client is a manager who is seeking to improve their team’s productivity. The coach holds the client accountable by setting up regular progress reviews and providing feedback on the client’s progress toward their goals.
Does the person provide enough positive reinforcement and honesty to help me grow?
Positive Reinforcement: A coach should provide positive reinforcement and feedback to the client, highlighting their strengths and successes. This will help build the client’s confidence and self-esteem, and will also reinforce their motivation to continue working towards their goals.
- When the client makes progress toward their goals, the coach provides positive reinforcement and feedback to reinforce their motivation and confidence. For example, the coach may acknowledge the client’s hard work and achievements during coaching sessions, or provide positive feedback on completed tasks or milestones. The coach can also confront the client in positive ways when they stall on their progress.
- A coaching client is a writer who is seeking to complete a book. The coach provides positive reinforcement by acknowledging the client’s hard work and successes during coaching sessions, and by giving positive feedback on completed objectives.
In summary, coaching is a process that is guided by six first principles: trust and confidentiality, active listening, goal setting, action planning, accountability, and positive reinforcement. A coach must establish trust and confidentiality with their client in order to create a safe and non-judgmental space for the client to share their concerns. Active listening is essential for the coach to understand the client’s perspective and develop appropriate strategies to help the client achieve their goals. Goal setting and action planning help the client to identify specific goals and develop a plan of action to achieve those goals. Accountability helps the client to stay on track and make progress toward their goals, while positive reinforcement helps to reinforce the client’s motivation and confidence. By applying these first principles, a coach can help their clients to achieve their desired outcomes and reach their full potential.
Gina is a leadership coach who utilizes first principles thinking to help professionals design their lives and overcome limiting beliefs. She works with clients to connect with their own true north, embody their authentic selves, and develop soft skills like complex problem-solving and empathy-based leadership.
Drawing on her own experience as a technology executive and professor of Organizational Development and Design, Gina helps clients identify the root causes of what is holding them back and develop systematic strategies for achieving their goals. She is passionate about establishing parity in the workplace and supporting women in leadership positions and is driven by the belief that embodying our authentic selves can free us from a life of quiet desperation. Read more articles on our blog.