Stretch targets for coaches

You probably have heard the analogy leadership trainers use to describe productive targets: they should be like a rubber band that is stretched just enough to create some pull. They should not be overstretched so they snap nor should they be too loose so that no tension between what is and what could be can be felt.

I think that this a good analogy for coaches as well. Beginning coaches also sometimes stretch too much or too little.

Too much stretch

A coach has just had their first session of coach education, or maybe they have just read a book on coaching. They start applying what they learned. Suddenly, a demo coaching session by a master coach appears from out of nowhere and the coach is “flashed”: “Wow, this was so great! This coaching flowed so naturally. The questions were so customized! The client had such great insights! This coach really had their own style!” The beginning coach then sets out to coach “free-style” way too early, robbing themselves of the opportunity to learn the steps of the dance before they start improvising. There are many different ways to coaching mastery, but they do all start with learning a philosophy of adult development and a possible structure of a conversation or other useful conversational moves. Instead of “going freestyle” and emulating a master coach, set yourself smaller targets, for example: “I wish to build my contributions to the conversations almost entirely out of the words that the client used” or “I want to ask one question at a time”. This is achievable and you can observe when you have learned the skill, which will motivate you to go on learning.

Not enough stretch

Yes, this does happen. Sometimes, when you have learned a structure of a coaching conversation and the respective “tools”, you think that’s all there is. At least, I know I did for a time. What saved me was hearing other coaches coach, broadening my view of what is possible to learn. So, whenever you think that “you’ve got it”, you probably are just not looking hard enough for the next development opportunity. I love challenging myself to learning new ways of coaching. I regularly comb YouTube for demo sessions and collect the results on our YouTube playlists ( I watch the recordings, see what I would like to steal, what I admire, what I would have done differently. Apart from this being a lot of fun, it really helps me to develop. I also talk to my supervisor and other colleagues regularly.

I am wishing you a good stretch in your development targets! If you would like to use our great free meetup sessions to reflect on your next challenge, learn about our classes or just have a fun time with colleagues, please join us for a free meetup and exchange session!

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