My client has no topic!

And then? So… what is the problem with no problem? Hm… usually, I would simply say: “Ah — so then, let’s cancel the session and please let me know 48 hours ahead of time next time there is no topic, so we don’t have to worry about cancellation fees”.

However, sometimes clients get “regular coaching” as part of a package deal, to support them in a leadership development program, etc. Let’s say, a company wants to support an emerging leader or high potential in their growth. They have 12 sessions and are expected to use one of them per month. In these situations, the client might arrive with no topic even in the first session. Here are a few suggestions that I shamelessly nicked from the participants of a “Coaching Meetup and Exchange”.

Generate a topic together

Ask for everything that is going well. Maybe the client want to look at one of the situations where she was successful in more detail: “What exactly did she contribute?”, “What can she learn?”

Or maybe there is something that did not go perfectly: “What could she do differently?”, “How would she have liked to react?”, “What difference would that make to her as a leader?”

Find a future topic

Maybe the client is really happy in his current position — you can still look at his ambitions: “Where does he want to be in 5 years?”, “Which skills will he need then?” And then you might create a list of topics for the next sessions and work on the preparation

Find a topic from the environment

Get permission to ask the client’s manager, peers, direct report what she is doing well and what she might be doing differently — maybe that will lead to some insights. If that is difficult, you can create a “stakeholder map” and imagine the opinions of the stakeholders together with the client.

Use a positive tool

This situation is one of the few times in my life where I have found it helpful to use a “tool”, like gallup strength finder or the Red Bull wingfinder. They don’t really say much, but they are great conversation starters.

If you want to join us for discussions like this, do come to one of our regular Free Coaching Meetup and Exchanges: