June 27, 2019

Sometimes I get asked by leaders how the benefits of coaching could be measured. Before being remotely able to answer this question, it would be prudent to appreciate the value of coaching.

The fourth and final section from my essay titled: "Coaching in practice: The futility of perfectionism as a coach". Following the articles "What all coaching classes should be like" and "Was I wrong about NLP?", this is the third post in the series, sharing parts of my essays for my postgraduate certificate in personal & business coaching with Barefoot Coaching . This section is from the 

Exchange of value

Following the Barefoot programme, I started to charge for the professional coaching services I offered. I was rather insecure about how to determine the price-point. While the feedback from volunteer coaching clients was very positive, and the feedback from course colleagues and tutors was also very positive I still was not confident in my abilities, even though the feedback corresponded with competencies of what is considered a “great coach” (Starr, 2010). Attempting to make sense of this I remembered the programme content covering impostor syndrome (Watts & Morgan, 2015). Working through this helped me to take on the positive feedback and trust in it to accept that my coaching does support the creative process (International Coach Federation, n.d.). Following progress on this angle of the challenge, I moved on to tackling the actual pricing determination.

My first attempt was a ‘pay-what-you-like’ programme where the coaching client determines the price. Two clients remunerated me in this way. In both cases their pricing would be unsustainable from a business point of view, and the reasoning for their choice was linked to what they pay for a massage or gym lesson. Of course in private, I had lots of feelings in response, that needed working through. Practicing a good amount of reflection using emotional intelligence (Goleman, 2006), I determined that the client’s reasoning for their pricing was unsuitable and did not make me feel valued as a coach. Following this attempt, I was still left feeling lost as to how to price my coaching. Through further reflection it occurred to me why this was difficult for me.

On the one hand I wanted to provide an extraordinary service, and as such people would value it very highly and be willing to invest a reasonable amount into the service. On the other hand, I was fearful that I might deter potentially interested, and interesting, clients with pricing gone too high. This brought me more onto thinking about the business side of professional coaching, evaluating how my emotions were helping or hindering the business side. My search helped me discover a very helpful book that basically suggested to price based on how I as the coach valued the coaching (Litvin & Chandler, 2013). Using this and working on my mindset enabled me to set a price point and go with it. Needless to say, it was within expectations of the target audience back then. Reflecting on the reality I was bemused at my emotions about the situation beforehand and the irony that I self-coached my way through this was not lost on me.

In terms of continued professional development, I went on to several other coaching training programmes since Barefoot to continue to grow as a coach, alongside accumulating experience through deliberate practice. For the purposes of this paper I would like to draw out another distinct experience though that highlights my biggest growth opportunity as a coach since the Barefoot programme.

After about one year of coaching after the Barefoot programme I hit somewhat of a low point. I worked with a few leaders and in 2 or 3 coaching meetings I had a very similar experience. In each coaching meeting the leader was so very close to an astounding epiphany, or at least so I felt. I got rather frustrated that I was unable to help them get there, although it seemed so obvious and close to me. During my after-session reflection I reminded myself of a key point from the Barefoot programme, to stay with the not-knowing (Morgan, 2015). What appeared like a possible epiphany to me, was my own thinking and distracted me from being focused on the coaching client through generative attention (Kline, 2008).

Despite this reminder I was still left frustrated that I as their coach was unable to enable a transformation. I was stuck with this frustration for a while despite intense contemplation. My pursuit of providing the perfect coaching experience, always, has brought me to an impasse. The only responsible solution was to take my situation up in a supervision coaching meeting. It was a difficult session. I faced my perfectionism straight on (Watts & Morgan, 2015). Why must every coaching meeting bring about a life-changing transformation? How could I possibly take responsibility for this? Through the supervision coaching meeting I came to an important realisation that I carry with me and share with fellow coaches.

As a coach it is not my responsibility to directly create change; my only responsibility is to create an environment within which change is possible.

Works Cited

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About the author 

Georg Fasching

A leadership team development specialist, International Coach Federation - Professional Certified Coach, with global product management experience since 2000, employing Agile & Lean since 2010, Georg Fasching guides leadership teams to delighting their clients, fulfil their people, and improve their prosperity.

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