13 Strategies For Guiding A Reluctant Coaching Client Toward Their Goal

POST WRITTEN BY

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

See the Article on Forbes.com here.

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers.

Part of being a business and career coach is learning the best way to guide each individual client. For instance, when working with a client who has a sensitive issue or who doesn’t always take guidance well, it may be especially important to frame your message in a way that encourages them to take the necessary steps without seeming critical or overbearing.

So, how can a coach steer a client in the right direction without driving them away? To help gain some perspective on this balancing act, we asked 13 experts from Forbes Coaches Council to share their strategies for counseling a client with care while making sure they stay on track toward their goal.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss strategies for counseling clients who don't always take guidance well.

1. Give Them The Power

Frame questions in a way that indicates that the power over the issue rests in their hands. Ask questions such as “What have you tried? What could you try? What would you like your experience to be? What advice would you give yourself?” And have them ask themselves, “What inner resources will I need to accomplish what I am trying to do?” - Angela MulliganAngela Mulligan Consulting and Coaching

2. Keep The Questions Coming

The more questions, the better. Period. When it comes to coaching, it’s about the client coming to the answers with the guidance and, perhaps, the proven process the coach employs. So, for clients who resist feedback, I work the questions harder, and keep ’em coming. - Sarah Beth AubreyAubrey’s Coaching & Training

3. Encourage Introspection

Rather than giving my clients all of the answers, I like to have conversations with them that allow them to become self-aware. In the course of questioning tendencies and decisions, they are usually able to see things about themselves that it may have been difficult for me to bring up. The probing also gives them some control over the speed of the discovery. - LaKesha WomackWomack Consulting Group

4. Explore The Larger Vision

Keep your client connected to the larger vision that they are striving toward. Encourage them to remind themselves of that vision with you so they can bring that positive energy into the present moment. Once you’ve brought that vision back into focus, remind the client that there is more than one road they can take to get to the destination, and explore options that excite them to move forward. - Matt MillsMatt Mills Coaching

5. Ask Yourself Some Questions First

I immediately build trust naturally, creating a space for honesty. Before I share a tough truth, I ask myself these questions: “Is it kind, true and necessary? Can I be gentle about it? Is it something my client needs to consider for growth? What is the payoff?” If all answers are “yes,” my energy is in alignment and I know I must share it. When I come from this place of service, the truth is well received. - Rosie GuagliardoInnerBrilliance Coaching

6. Change The Lens Of Perception

Powerful coaching questions allow the client to explore possibilities from a variety of perspectives. One way to accomplish this is to allow the client to look through a new lens. Asking, “What if you did nothing?” or “What would your best competitor do?” are two ways to begin seeing the full picture from a new perspective. We find our best answers when we can see a situation in a new light. - Teresa RayLeadership Arkansas

7. Listen To What They’re Saying And What They’re Not Saying

Powerful questioning will help the client reveal, realize and understand how to resolve the issue without threatening or “pushy” dialogue. Listen to what the client is saying and not saying; this will help you come up with questions that ignite reflection. When clients comes up with the solution on their own, they are more likely to take action through heightened awareness. - Rosa Vargas,Authentic Resume Branding & Career Coaching

8. Share A Story, Then Take A Step Back

The more sensitive the issue is, the harder it is for a client to be objective. Share a story about a similar situation. Ask the client how they might have encouraged the other person. Talk about possible outcomes. Then, most importantly, let it rest. Many clients need time for ideas to marinate. Revisit the conversation in a following session to see if the client has had any additional thoughts. - Erica McCurdyLunaNav, LLC

9. Show Support And Understanding

I suggest a three-part strategy of planning, paraphrasing and proposing. Plan your proposed value to the client in advance; then, inside the conversation, paraphrase the client so well that he or she knows you understand the details of their point of view. Finally, propose how your alternative idea builds on and develops their goals further, deeper and with added impact. - Thomas LarkinCommunico, Westport CT

10. Be Bold, But Not Confrontational

Framing the right question authentically, with genuine curiosity and with a bold, yet non-confrontational, tone, and persisting with it until the client truly hears it, will work wonders. Questions such as, “What do you think about X, Y and Z?” or “How do you think others see this situation?” might be enough for the client to engage with the issue. Combine bold honesty with caring curiosity. - Aileen Gibb

11. Reconnect To Their Larger Goals

Our clients take actions they feel move them toward their goals—usually. But when the issue is touchy, emotion can make it harder to take action. Start with the most minimal force necessary—meaning, reconnect the conversation to the client’s purpose and larger life goals. Connecting those dots can realign energy and passion so, together, you are able to evaluate direction from a positive place. - Carry MetkowskiCarry Metkowski’s Rockin’ Workplaces

12. Allow Them To Stay Stuck

When a client is avoiding steps that will move them toward their goal, it is often helpful to deliberately hold them in the space of no movement. Have them imagine some period in the future in which they have not moved—they’re still in this same place. Deeply explore this place. They will become clear: Either it’s not that important, or the idea of still being stuck will drive a change and a step forward. - Christine PouliotEvocent Coaching

13. Focus On Their Mindset

When dealing with a sensitive issue, the focus for the messaging should be the client’s mindset. Begin by saying, “I am going to say something, and I want you to hear it with new ears and see it through new eyes, to shift your mindset and view the issue in a different way.” By getting the client to focus through new lenses, a shift in mindset is easier to accomplish. - Jon DwoskinThe Jon Dwoskin Experience

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15 Ways Stay-At-Home Parents Can Prepare To Go Back To Work

POST WRITTEN BY

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Read this article on Forbes.com here.

Every day, around the world and across industries, professionals put their careers on hold to start a family. As the children grow up, many stay-at-home parents look forward to the day they can re-enter the workforce. However, after years away, not only has the business world likely shifted, but their experience and skills may be a bit stale.

How can stay-at-home parents prepare themselves for the best possible re-entry into the workforce? We asked entrepreneurs from Forbes Coaches Council to share their top tips for professionals getting ready to go back to work. Their answers are below.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council offer advice for stay-at-home parents preparing to get back into the workforce.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.

1. Polish Your Skills

Once you have identified your new career target, identify any necessary skill and knowledge gaps. To address these, take a course via Lynda or Udemy, register for a certificate program and/or join a professional association. Even better, join two: one with people who “do what you do” (for example, SHRMfor human resources professionals) and one with members who “need what you do” (for example, industry associations). - Laura M. LabovichThe Career Strategy Group

2. Arm Yourself

Connect with former colleagues and industry members to get a better understanding of the current standards of experience, technology and methodology. Armed with this information, you can make strategic decisions about additional steps you want to take regarding education, crafting your resume/professional brand and potentially taking on a few freelance opportunities to re-engage professionally. - Tonya EcholsVigere

3. Do Volunteer Work

Often underappreciated, volunteer work can assist a stay-at-home parent in keeping his or her skills sharp. Highlight any work that you have done and what skills you used, such as organization, leadership, planning, collaboration, project management, finance, etc. Be as active as possible in your professional organizations to keep your network warm and remain relevant in your target career. - Erin UrbanUPPSolutions, LLC

4. Get Social To Be Strategic

Engage fully with all of your social media platforms. Most enterprise software is moving in the direction of mimicking social media models. Research the trends in your employer’s industry and then take courses, watch videos and build your competency in addressing the current challenges facing your employer. Trust in your soft skills, as they are timeless, and your mojo will return quickly. - Carl Gould7 Stage Advisors

5. Use LinkedIn For A Good First Impression

Today, people often meet you online before they meet you in person. In the professional world, it is common to learn about someone on LinkedIn before a live conversation or a resume review. Creating or updating a professional LinkedIn page with an up-to-date headshot and summary section that highlights your value proposition will establish a professional impression right away. - Molly WalshStandout Consulting

6. Conduct A Listening Tour And Create A Development Plan

When you are trying to re-enter the workforce or pivoting to a new role, I suggest conducting a listening tour. Make a list of 10 to 15 leaders in the role and get on calls with them to understand the nuances of their role in the current market conditions. Start with your previous colleagues or network and ask for referrals, then create a development plan for yourself to build those new skills.  - Leanne WongTrue Talent Advisory

7. Do Your Research

The decision to go back to work is a significant one.  It includes time weighing pros and cons. During this period, a parent should not only think about the impact of going back to work on their children and family members, but engage in research on the industry they are returning to, trends in work environments (such as teleworking) and the ways industry can assist in the process. - David J. SmithDavid Smith Career Coaching

8. Learn To Navigate The Internet

In the last decade, technological advancement has drastically changed the way things work in every industry. You need to be able to navigate the world of the internet and the possibilities it offers for revenue generation. The old-school way of doing business has been rendered outdated. You need to master the skill of reaching out to your target audience online, as a first step. The rest will follow. - Anjali ChughCosmique Global Inc.

9. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

This worked for me. I had to convey four years as a stay-at-home mom into words potential employers could relate to. Being the household manager meant experience with budgeting, finances, strategic planning, execution, market research, interpersonal skills, using technology, working with subs and more. Have a friend help with this. It’s hard for most of us to capture all we bring to an employer. - Pamela ScottMentor Loft

10. Contract In Your Highest Talent First

When re-entering a workforce that has most likely changed since you took leave, try a contracted position first, especially a short-term one. You’ll have the opportunity to create an impact, get a fresh reference and reacquaint yourself with everything from technological shifts to ways of communicating and collaborating. Take another, and continue until you feel prepared to apply for and win full-time positions. - John HittlerEvoking Genius

11. Keep Networking

Continue to research and understand who the key players are in your industry. Take the time to set up a few meetings with people who you would want to work with in the future. What will never change in the business world is that it is not what you know, but who you know. Establishing and maintaining warm relationships now could help you greatly in the future job search. - Angela MulliganAngela Mulligan Consulting and Coaching

12. Build Up Clarity And Confidence

The common problems my stay-at-home-parent clients face are lack of clarity about their career path and lost confidence. Clarity comes from knowing who you are, who you aspire to be and what the market needs. Taking tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or StrengthsFinder, doing deep reflection, conducting research, and talking to people help. Confidence comes from building a strong, unique case about yourself that sells. - Amy NguyenHappiness Infinity LLC

13. Focus On Your Strengths And Experiences

Regardless of how long you have been out of work, you have not been inactive. Your experiences shape you, your habit structures and skill set. Whether you have volunteered, helped out at your child’s school, joined a board, run charity events or taken care of an ailing parent, you have something to offer. Identify what skills and achievements transfer to the workplace and highlight them. - Brad FedermanF&H Solutions Group

14. Take Stand-Up Or Improv Classes

The biggest pitfall of coming back to work after a long leave is your decreased confidence. The ability to be assertive in high-stakes situations, such as important meetings, is like a muscle—it can get weaker with lack of practice. During my sabbatical, I took a stand-up course and went to open-mic nights. It was the scariest thing I could think of. When I came back to work, I was more confident than ever. - Caterina KostoulaThe Leaderpath

15. Don’t Apologize

When I re-entered the workforce after taking a year to stay home, it was brutal. I found myself apologizing and fumbling through interviews when I felt judged by employers. I began to stop apologizing and started showing how my time off made me a valuable asset and an eager candidate. I didn’t avoid the question—I charged into it and ended up with a role that was perfect. - Maresa FriedmanExecutive Cat Herder

12 Ways Leaders Can Help Others -- And Themselves -- Embrace Change

POST WRITTEN BY

Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

See article on forbes.com here.

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership.

It seems that no matter where you turn, change is coming, bringing great opportunities for learning, growth and happiness — if only you know how.

Each new year brings with it a starting-over point, a moment for reflection, reassessment then resolution. Perhaps it means a new direction for the company. Perhaps it means a rebranding or redoubled effort to find a larger audience. Whatever the goal may be, the first few months of the year are the perfect time to implement change.

However, it can be hard for leaders to properly take advantage of this momentary mind shift. In order to help you make the most of the opportunity, 12 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their best approaches. Here's what they advise you try:

Members discuss a few ways you can tap into the season of change to encourage improvement and growth.

1. Engage With The Present, Think Of The Future

Engage with the present, while keeping an eye on the long-term vision. As leaders plan for 2019 and beyond, incorporate a coaching culture where leaders and managers guide staff to approach projects and daily performance using the technique of bifocal vision. Focus on using today’s performance to enhance tomorrow's skills and habits through conscious development and conscious learning. - Ann Holland, Strive Performance Coaching

2. Make Change A Reality

The start of the new year is an opportunity to look forward and create a clear vision for where you want to be in your career in the next 12 months that you can get excited about. Determine what part of that vision is different from where you are now and decide what steps you are willing to take to make that change a reality. Commit to taking at least one of those steps in the next month. - Matt Mills, Matt Mills Coaching

3. Reflect And Renew

Reflection and renewal are both essential to high performance leading. The seasons offer natural opportunities for both if we pay attention. Around the new year, all leaders can benefit from asking themselves three questions: What am I most proud to have contributed this year? What was my biggest leadership lesson? What am I committed to being, doing and having in the year ahead? - Erin Rocchio, Erin Rocchio Consulting

4. Reassess Value And Align With Objectives

Leaders may consider evaluating their previous year by reflecting on their achievements as well as reflecting on the challenges they may have faced. One good way to start the year is to reassess their values and align them with their objectives. This should also be joined with creating meaningful goals, breaking them down to milestones and creating new habits both in life and in business. - Dris Mhammedi, The Body & Mind Coach

5. Choose Uncertainty Over Unhappiness

There is no good time for a change. However, it’s unsettling when you don’t plan it. The first of the year is a perfect time to change whatever is bothering you or holding you back. Your decision to make a change is not about your situation as much as it is a choice between unhappiness or uncertainty. Don’t settle for unhappiness for another year. Make that change now! - Tom Scarda, CFE, The Franchise Academy Powered By FranChoice

6. Listen To The Front Lines

Leaders can use this time to find out what front-line staff thinks of changes already made and what changes they think need to be made. Your front-line people know where the flaws are in your systems. They can recommend fixes. It's time for you, as a leader, to ask, then listen. - Pam Scott, Armstrong Scott Inc.

Read more in Making A Plan To Listen

7. Focus On The Future, Not The Past

This time of year, goal setting can get out of hand. We reflect on last year, think about what we wish we had done, and then we write our new goals like a task list to get even with Father Time. Managers who want to make a real difference at their companies next year need to focus on just a few things that will really move the needle, rather than everything they wish they did last year. - J. Ryan Williams, SalesCollider

8. Focus On One Area Of Development

One way leaders may find opportunities for growth in the new year is to focus on just one area they are most in need of developing, and put their energy into growing in that one space. Most of the time, we know what we need to change, but we either don't want to, don't know how or simply give up too soon. Challenge yourself this new year by leading your own growth with the help of a coach. - Michelle Holzberg, Accelerated Talent Group

9. Ask Three Questions

Ask yourself three questions about yourself: How do I prefer to behave when I'm in a natural setting? Why do I do the things that I do? What is it that I revert back to when the stress is high and I'm pressured to make decisions? The responses to these questions will present optimal possibilities for change and professional growth in 2019. - Jorge Gutierrez, BMOC GROUP

10. Identify One Habit To Change Each Quarter

The new year is a great opportunity for change because our psychology lends itself to what in Latin is called tabula rasa, or clean slate. In this it means, we all feel conscious and perhaps unconsciously that we can start anew, fresh and with excitement. As a leader, decide one new habit you would like to change each quarter. Identify it, stack it in your routine, take pride in it, and commit. - Denise Trudeau-Poskas, Blue Egg Leadership

11. Self-Assess, Create Mini Action Plans And Share

Leaders can engage everyone around them to do an honest assessment of themselves in 2018, highlighting what worked well and areas that could use attention. Invite people to create a mini "action plan" of how they will address the items that need attention in 2019. Share your lists with each other and ask how you can support each other in staying accountable to your goals throughout the new year. - Angela Mulligan, Angela Mulligan Consulting + Coaching

12. Analyze Past Successes, Then Make More Room For More

Everyone has value when they have the time to analyze it. Take a look back at last year’s biggest success. List the activities that led to the success and design ways to make room for more of these activities. Understand that most people want to change. Change is about growth. Create the fail-safe environments that allow people to take the risks necessary to develop the next level capabilities. - Patrick Antrim, Legendary Teams

What You Can Do To Bring Out The Best In Your Executive Assistant

POST WRITTEN BY

Angela Mulligan

Read this article on Forbes.com here.

Your assistant is an extension of yourself. Your success is their success, and equally, their success is your success. When one of you is off, the other one is left picking up the pieces. You greatly depend on each other to hit targeted work goals and achieve the shared outcomes that you want.

Regular maintenance on three key pieces of this relationship can create important opportunities for leadership growth and increase your team’s productivity.

Increase The Sense Of Loyalty

An assistant who feels loyal to their executive will demonstrate an “I can do anything” attitude. Whatever you send their way, they will be eager to take it on and show you what they can do. They will be more creative in their problem solving and need less direction, allowing you to pay your focus where it is needed elsewhere.

Conversely, an assistant who feels disloyal or out of sync with their executive will require more motivation and micromanagement to produce items on time. They will report more "problems" and ultimately try to hand unwanted tasks back to you.

Here are a few ways to increase this sense of loyalty:

1. Show them that you have a genuine interest in both hearing and helping them reach their own career goals. Spend at least 10 minutes a day focusing your attention on their life (do not be on the phone while doing this). They spend 480 on yours — at least! Ask questions to understand what they want out of their work life. Perhaps it's access to professional training, flexibility in their schedule, mentorship or to start specializing in a certain kind of task. By providing as many of these opportunities as you can, you are building trust and delivering the important message that the support they provide you is not a one-way street.

2. Provide specific, positive feedback daily. You may think that they know how you perceive their work, but chances are, they don't. Verbalize what is working for you so that they can understand and continue in that direction. Everyone has a need to be seen in their efforts, and often, in this type of relationship, you are the only one who sees their work closely. They rely on you to provide the feel-good feedback that keeps them engaged.

3. Approach criticism with curiosity. Instead of assuming that they have “done it wrong” when you see something that doesn’t match your standard, instead, inquire with questions like, “What is the status of this?" "How long is this task going to take?" "Do you need anything from me to get this done?” Attacks break trust and ruin loyalty. Inquiries build.

Increase Opportunities For Upward Feedback

Your assistant is an objective observer of your entire work life. They have insights into your patterns, your weaknesses, and your strengths, and you can bet they have an opinion on how things could be done better. Make opportunities for them to share feedback either daily or weekly. Let it go longer than that and you will be missing out on valuable and specific information that you can use to grow. If you are not already in this practice, it might take time to establish that this is a safe place for them to share. Over time, they will be able to see your genuine interest in growth and be on the lookout for obstacles that you could be getting through more easily.

Encourage Creativity

When handing over a task, delineate which parts need to be submitted to you for review and which parts your assistant has full creative control over. It's important to be clear and not to critique the areas where you have given them control. By encouraging them to stretch their creative muscles, you are developing a more effective, self-directed team member who will grow into taking more and more tasks off your plate.

Your job satisfaction is intrinsically linked to that of your assistant's. Value that relationship by incorporating these short, relationship-building practices into your day and you will find yourself with a more loyal, capable assistant who is willing and wanting to do the work for the long term.

How To Choose The Right Coach To Work With This Year

POST WRITTEN BY

Angela Mulligan

Read this article on Forbes.com here.

When you look at people who are excelling quickly, you’ll notice they often have one thing in common: They have a mentor or coach in their lives. If you’re like most leaders, you’re already deeply engaged in assessing what’s working and what needs attention and have set some goals for yourself for 2019.

Psychologically, people do better when there is someone in their corner of the ring, compelling them to do better and holding them accountable to higher standards. Otherwise, it can be easy to get off track and slip into patterns that don’t serve our goals or get stuck in whirring indecision that holds up our process and our growth.

So, here are five questions to ask yourself when considering which coach or mentor to invite into your life this year:

1. What are you trying to achieve?

Having an outline of the specific goals you are aiming to reach or the direction you are interested in heading helps give you a framework for making the right decision. A coach will be able to tell you either in conversation or through their branding who they are and how they help. Look for coaches and mentors who can speak to what you are after, and you will save yourself time finding a match.

2. Does your potential coach model these behaviors?

The right coach is going to help guide you to where you want to be. So, look at where they are in their lives right now and at who they have worked with in the past. Do you want to move in a similar direction?

Which aspects in particular about their life are you working toward bringing into your own? Ask them how they got where they are. Does their process align with what you are willing/able to do? It’s true that everyone’s process is different, and if you ask them details about the parts you are interested in, you can gain insight into how they will lead you there.

3. Do you feel heard?

Even in a short 15-minute conversation with someone you can get a sense of whether they are really listening to you or not. While coaching is not therapy, it is important that your coach actually sees you and has skills in deep listening and reflection to help you understand yourself better.

Steer clear of coaches who come with a prescribed script or leave you feeling steamrolled by their point of view. They should be able to work with you from exactly where you are.

4. Are they transparent about the process?

Acknowledging the parts of yourself that are scared and insecure and have been keeping you from what you want to be doing does not always leave you with an easy breezy feeling. There are going to be parts of your process that feel sticky.

If someone promises you a walk in the park or guarantees a certain amount of growth, that’s a signal to dive in deeper and ask exactly how they plan to get you there. Don’t wait until after the contract is signed to get into the details of how they help clients.

5. Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of them?

There are plenty of times in life when we feel like we have to come across as confident. In a coaching relationship, it's most helpful if you can be completely honest about your insecurities and roadblocks so you can address them directly and strategize.

Everyone has fears, especially when they are growing into something new. By making a commitment to being true to yourself, the right coach can provide a safe space to work through everything that comes up. The goal is to be supported on your journey to lasting personal growth, not bullied or shamed.

To get started, do an honest assessment of yourself from 2018, highlighting what worked well and the areas that could use attention. Create a mini action plan of how you will address the items that need attention in 2019. Use this as a guideline when considering what support you are going to invite into your life, and look for a coach who will get you there.