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To coach or not to coach?

Updated: Jul 10, 2019 shouldn't be the question (anymore)!

“Employees leave managers, not companies.”

In today’s corporate world, we often talk about coaches and mentors, and yet, people rarely know the defined standards of a coaching process and therefore lack to apply the right tools to create a strong partnership with their team members, internal stakeholders and external clients.

No matter if you are a manager, or not, the coaching skill can come handy in many parts of your professional and personal life.

After completing a 5-day intensive advanced coaching program with the Life Purpose Institute in San Diego on June 24th, I was inspired to write this article.

Today, I am providing an overview of the 11 markers of coaching from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) to you and explain why they are so important to be applied in the corporate context.

Coaching and Stress Management

31% of people say “people” issues are one of the top three sources for work-related stress (ComPsych 2016). If more people were to know and apply the coaching standards in their day-to-day interactions, there would be less stress from conflicts and misunderstandings due to a lack of communication.

1. Ethics and Standards

While in each company certain rules and ethics apply; it is the same for the coaching process. A specific list of the ICF ethics can be found here.

2. Creating the Coaching Agreement

Ensure that you are really clear on what the meeting or conversation is about. Define the topic, a desirable outcome, a measure and the client’s motivation for the topic. Why is this so important? Because sometimes the client him- or herself is not really clear on this when starting a session. By strictly defining these four measures (also known as TOMM), you don’t only create clarity for the client on what the real “issue” is, but also ensure that they leave the appointment with the feeling of achievement.

If a client comes to you and isn't 100% clear on the topic and their desired outcome, explore the question together until you have a clear answer - don't move on beforehand.

3. Creating Trust & Intimacy

They don’t say without a reason “The biggest gift you can give to you can give to a person is time.”. Especially in our today’s world where everyone is always under time pressure, on a schedule and rushing from one appointment to another, creating sacred space for the client by switching of your own devices is a must.

People can feel if you truly listen and have time for them or if you are distracted by other things during the process.

Have you lately been in a conversation where someone has genuinely gifted you time to let you fully express yourself? You will always remember these encounters, because you felt appreciated and heard.

And in my opinion, this is why the coaching profession is becoming more and more popular. So often, people don't listen and are busy dealing with their own thoughts and emotions.

A good coach encourages and allows the client to fully express themselves and acknowledges the client’s work in the coaching process.

4. Coaching Presence

Coaching Presence is closely linked with creating sacred space and intimacy.

Ensuring that you are fully present can for example mean to find a comfortable space for yourself where you feel undisturbed, practice self-care by taking a few deep breaths before the meeting and reviewing the previous meeting notes to be prepared and ready to hold space for the client.

5. Active Listening

Active Listening means to really listen with all of your senses without any agenda. If you properly listen to your friends, colleagues, clients or family members, you don’t only hear what they say, but you also hear what they don’t say.

You inquire about your client’s use of language, emotions, tone of voice, pace of speech. You are aware of their shifts in energy, behavior and mood and are able to reflect back to them what you observe and notice without any attachment of being right.

It also means to be ok with silence to give your client time to think.

6. Powerful Questioning

The coaching relationship is all about enabling the client to find their own answers by asking them powerful questions. Those are questions that provoke the thinking process of the client, questions that the client hasn’t considered before and thus may initially answer with “Oh that’s a good question.” or “Wow, I haven’t thought about this before.”

It is important to be direct and clear, ask one question at the time and keep them open ended. Avoid “Why” questions, they often imply an opinion and quickly make the other person feel like they need to justify themselves for something that they have said or done.

It is extremely powerful to use the client’s language to match their thinking.

7. Direct Communication

This is by far the most powerful marker of all. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they reflected back what you said? How did that feel? Really great, right? Because you really felt understood and heard. And that’s exactly what Direct Communication is about.

Direct communication is used in coaching to reflect back what the client has said, often in their own language and para-phrasing some of the content. It gives the client the feeling to be heard and understood.

The coach shares observations, intuitions, thoughts and feelings to serve the client’s learning and forward movement.

What is really important here is that the coach is not attached to being right, the coach simply makes sure to understand the client fully and support them in their thought and development process.

8. Creating Awareness

Another marker that I love in coaching is Creating Awareness. It is used to ask the client what they have learned about themselves in the conversation and about their key takeaways for the future.

Furthermore, by sharing more observations with the client about what the coach notices, the client has the potential to learn new things about themselves as well.

9. Designing actions

10. Planning and goal setting

11. Managing progress and accountability

The so called “marker 9, 10 and 11” often go together, because their intention is closely linked. A good conversation or meeting should always end with a clear action plan, setting SMART goals and managing progress and accountability.

Questions like: “How will you ensure to keep yourself accountable for this action step” or “How can I support you in this process” are powerful questions that are often used in this context to help the client reflect on possible challenges and discuss alternatives to set the client up for success.

Remember: in the coaching process, it’s the client that speaks for most of the time!

Try to apply even some of these tools in your next meeting or conversation and see the magic happen.


As a certified life and business coach, I offer personalized packages for 1:1 coaching in stress management, personal development for individual contributors, managers and entrepreneurs. Schedule a 30-minute introduction session with me via:

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