How to maximize the coaching relationship?
It all depends on YOU

Coaching can be a most exhilarating or a most frustrating experience for both the coach and the coachee. It all depends primarily on the coachee not the coach.

Often, we think that effective coaching depends on the coach. From my experience in executive coaching, a lot depends on the coachee. So, how do we ensure that you have the best experience for yourself. 

It depends on how hungry you are! Here are some tips.


1. Be clear with what you want to improve

Knowing what you want is important. Be clear of your goal in the coaching and fnd a coach who can help you achieve your goal. The goal is development not performance appraisal. Unclear or mismatched expectations can sour the relationship with your coach. 

Be specific about what you want in this coaching relationship.

  • What specific competency you hope to achieve and when?
  • What specific action steps you have to take to grow your competency? 
  • Set specific timeline on how you plan to accomplish your growth.

We don’t plan to fail but often we fail to plan.


2. Find a coach whom you can trust

Finding the right coach is important. One of the main reasons why coaching fail is the trust relationship between the coach and the coachee. Trust is the most crucial element in the coaching relationship. 

 Without trust, you will be: 

  • reticent to open up and be transparent to your coach.
  • unwilling to share deeply the real struggles you are going through.
  • not able to accept any guidance from your coach.
  • suspicious or even cynical about the advice your coach will provide.

An effective coach is one whom you feel comfortable with and who can help you build your competence.  Find someone with the experience and the expertise. 

The best coaches are those are not afraid to say “No” to you and challenge your assumptions and willing to explore better ways of helping you. A trust relationship is therefore important. It allows you to ask candidly, clarify doubts, and receive honest feedback. This will only happen when there is a climate of trust. 


3. Be willing to change

A coach cannot change what you don’t want to change. And a good coach will never try to change what you refuse to change but he or shecan only help you understand why and what needs to be changed. An effective coach will provide the right climate for the change to take place. 

Getting good feedback is an important part of coaching. This can be done through a candid 360-degree feedback mechanism, through a quantitative instrument or/and a qualitative feedback. This is getting good feedback from your board members, your industry peers and better still, your subordinates.


There are three criteria that are important to get feedback from their 360-degree feedback.

  • Who has worked with you for at least 6 months.
  • Whom you can trust to give you honest feedback.
  • Whom you highly respect.


From my own experience, especially in an Asian context, it is important that participants of the feedback must know 

  • The purpose of the feedback.
  • The feedback is free from any reward or punishment system.
  • The feedback is anonymous and confidential.
  • The feedback is for personal development purpose.
  • The feedback is done professionally and the instrument used is well-attested.


Explain to those who are giving you the feedback why you need their feedback and ask them to share candidly. For your subordinates, you might have to assure them that the feedback will not be used against them. Use the feedback to find out where your strengths are and how you can improve. It is also an opportunity to discover what blind spots are and how you can correct. 


4. Make small steps to change

The worst thing that can happen to you is when people don’t see any change in you after the coaching. It will breed skepticism and cynicism for future feedback system. However, it is important to moderate yours and others’ expectations. 

Take baby steps that others can see the change. For example, if you have not been a good listener, make a special effort to paraphrase and understand their perspectives. We call them “quick wins” in coaching. This will demonstrate that we are sincere and earnest about the coaching. 

When people see the change in you, they will not only  be more open in giving you feedback but willl also be more open to change.  Then you will be on your way to becoming a great leader who will be building a great organization. You would have modeled a cultural change in your leadership team!


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