by Andrea J. Lee
A prolific and profound article from Thomas Leonard – it brought the most ‘AHA’ responses from readers of Today’s Coach when it was originally shared a number of years ago. I’m still learning from what he wrote and how he wrote it.
Every week, we receive requests for coaching services that we forward to the coaches listed in the CoachVille Referral Service.
The most common requests are for “strong” coaches.
And not just experienced or skilled coaches, but coaches with either a strong personality or what I call having “the Edge.”
And, I’ve never met a very successful coach who didn’t/doesn’t have this Edge.
And as you develop this Edge, you will begin to attract more clients and keep the clients you have, longer. For whatever reason, the Edge works. And the marketplace will either dub you a ‘nice person/nice coach’ or a coach who can make something happen, because they have the Edge.
What, exactly, is the Edge?
The Edge is several things…
1. The Edge is a no-nonsense component in the tone of your voice.
In other words, you have something more important to do than coddle your clients. Or be bored by their lack of commitment. Or impatient with their success cycle. You’ve gotten to a certain place in your life, not just in your coaching, where you’re just not that interested in the excuses, stories and wavering that clients tend to come with.
This is not to say that you’re rude, pushy, obnoxious or insensitive to the realities that your clients are facing, especially as they make significant changes in their lives. In fact, most of the coaches with the Edge are fairly quiet in tone, but there is this underlying note that the client hears which the client responds to and respects. The benefit of having the Edge is that clients don’t play games or do a number on you.
I think it’s really important to realize that many clients are experiencing more than a twinge of fear around the goals they’ve set for themselves with your help. And, being human, when we’re scared, we’ll look for a way out, even to the point of distracting our coach or changing goals or being flaky. But when the coach has the Edge, the client just doesn’t go there. Which saves everyone a lot of time.
2. The Edge means having a very sensitive b.s. detector.
I am NOT one to call the client on their b.s. It’s my view that that approach is a power trip and not professional. However, I can/do detect inconsistencies in what the client is saying (and/or how they are saying it) and I do point those out, gently, simply, easily, fearlessly and in what’s called a ‘charge neutral’ tone, meaning there’s no ‘charge’ to my voice. It’s a clean communication. And it’s part of what the client is paying me for.
Because most clients don’t even know when they are b.s.’ing and they APPRECIATE your asking for a clarification. As a coach gains experience, they hear the subtle inconsistencies or things that just don’t ring true. And, the coach who has the Edge brings this up within sixty seconds of hearing it. Not as a confrontational challenge (unsophisticated, unseemly, amateurish) but rather as a simple, shared observation or question. Just doing this will advance the relationship you have with your client, which leads to more honest communication and faster results.
3. The Edge means having an opinion and sharing it.
Some coaches receive training from schools where they are taught that the client has all of the answers and that the coach should suppress the coach’s opinion so as to not get in the way of the client’s process. This approach works for about 10% of the clients out there which means most of these coaches don’t have very full practices and I think this is a shame. It’s my view that a key part of why clients hire a coach is to hear the coach’s opinion about the client’s goals, situation, problem, dynamic or lifestyle. Even unsolicited opinions, if you have established that type of relationship/permission with your client, are immensely valuable and can forward the clients dramatically. We coaches provide so much to our clients: Support, wisdom, structure, questions, understanding, strategies, ideas, synergy and yes, opinions.
Like it or not, the edgier, stronger coaches are the most financially successful.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that we should be intolerant of our clients humanness…
…and be intolerant of excuses, explanations, delays, confusion, fear, reality, kids,obligations and the various things that life dishes out….
Continued: From wimpy to Edgy Part 2