Any coaching conversation is only as good as the trust and intimacy of the relationship between coach and coachee. And for the coachee with themselves. As we progress through a coaching relationship, it is natural that the relationship grows and strengthens. Over time the coach experiences increasing levels of trust and intimacy with the coach and themselves.
Over time I have observed that these relationships tend to go through several levels. Each level offering a different degree of insight into the coachee’s values, principles and goals. A good metaphor for this is a six-storey building, where each floor offers a different view from the windows.
A good metaphor for this is a six-storey building, where each floor offers a different view from the windows.
Level 1: Articulation of Goals
On the ground floor, the view is very distracting. You are in the reception of the building; people are waiting to meet friends and colleagues, couriers bringing in parcels and packet, outside is the traffic and more people bustling about their own business. It is not somewhere you would choose to have a meaningful conversation. However, it is where you will have to start.
The relationship is not yet established enough for the coachee to enter a thoughtful, reflective dialogue. Any conversation tends to deal with more concrete, immediate issues. The coachee can identify what they want to achieve. The goals brought to a session fit within a current vision they hold of themselves and the future.
While here a coach’s focus is on building the trust and rapport with the coachee. Drawing out their vision and building the foundations of a successful relationship are key ingredients.
Level 2: Awareness of Benefits of Coaching
Here the coachee is developing an awareness of what coaching is and what it can offer them. Starting to free themselves from external distractions they can begin to focus on their priorities and goals.
As a coach, you are centred on helping a coachee in expanding and articulating their goals, developing approaches and strategies to help the coachee achieve these aims. It is here that a coachee can bring real power to the relationship. However, coaches only build credibility through their coach’s actions.
Level 3: Awareness of Self
As the coachee follows a path of action, their self-awareness and reflection increases. Many of the goals at this level are designed to build the coachee up. Giving the coachee the confidence to act.
To continue supporting this self-awareness, you should use tools that provide structure and measure progression. This structure creates a space where the coachee can continue to expand their self-awareness, rebuilding confidence in their ability to effect change in themselves.
Level 4: Intentional Change
Over time the coachee develops a high degree of competence in setting goals, discovering how to achieve these targets and enjoying the fruits of success. They begin to feel in control. They understand the rules of the game; all this leads to well-deserved satisfaction on their part.
The emphasis moves away from learning how to succeed and focuses on in what areas the coachee should pursue success. At this level, you should acknowledge your coachee and celebrate with them. Continue in refining their goals while also assisting them in transferring these skills to new areas.
Level 5: Evolution and Attraction
As the coachee takes increasing control of their situation, their goals slowly become less linear, more natural and tend towards an attraction-based mentality. The coachee will continually update their targets. Basing new targets on new information arriving, discovering new sources of inspiration and new aspirations and opportunities. Astonishing results can be achieved effortlessly as the coachee sees opportunities and shifts to take the best advantage of them.
The coaching relationship becomes an important part of the coachee’s journey. It acts to ground and orient the coachee as they enter the previously undiscovered territory.
Level 6: Intuition and Flow
When a coachee reaches a state of flow in their coaching, many things no longer need to be fully articulated. They are working in a way that fully aligns with their values and principles. Their actions and habits are natural and need little consideration. Coachees that have achieved this level of awareness and self-development have quiet, yet robust confidence about them and further development is a habit of continual self-refinement.
At this level the techniques a coach needs are straightforward. Trust your instincts, tell the truth, be fully present, and enjoy the experience! You may feel unnecessary, but the coachee will highly value what you bring to the relationship.
Bringing your Coaching Relationship Together
These six different levels of coaching represent “typical” levels the coaching relationship may experience over time. No single level is more important, or better than any other. It should never become the aim of the coach or coachee to raise the degree of the relationship. Over time the relationship will progress naturally. What is essential is that the coach can support at all levels – wherever the coachee happens to be.
Also important is that coachees will not necessarily go through these levels in order.
As with much in life, we are continuously cycling between these levels. We cannot choose at which level our coachees get off the elevator. It would not be surprising for the standard of conversation to drop when the focus of the conversation changes, especially if it is a new area that the relationship has not covered up before.