Solution Saturday: Help! I’m Freaked Out About Coaching Others

On a recent coaching call, a leader said, “The idea of coaching others is freaking me out.”

Confidence for inexperienced coaches:

#1. Give control.

Trying to control new situations creates stress. Worse yet, research shows that stress makes you dumb. Your creative-thinking brain shuts down under stress. You’ll be more confident if you give control.

After social pleasantries, give control to the person you’re coaching by asking, “What would you like to get out of our conversation today?” Don’t ask, “What would you like to talk about?”

“What would you like to get out of today’s conversation?” is about finding solutions, not topics to discuss.

Take notes on their answers. 

Ask, “And what else?” after they give an initial response to what they want to discuss. Generate a list of three or four items. The goal is to generate options.

Create a results oriented agenda.

#2. Give choice.

Choices help us feel powerful. Give your coachee opportunities to make choices.

Review the potential topics for the conversation. Ask, “Which item seems most important to you right now?”

They may choose the first item they mentioned, or they may choose number three or four. It doesn’t matter. As a coach you have already done five important things.

  1. Given control.
  2. Generated thought that goes beyond first responses.
  3. Offered choices.
  4. Established priorities.
  5. Helped a coachee feel their power.

#3. Explore current knowledge.

Assume that you don’t know or understand what your coachee knows. You don’t want to offer suggestions that they have already tried. (If you offer suggestions at all.)

After choosing the priority topic of conversation, ask, “What do you already know about that?” Another question might be, “What have you already tried to make this better?”

#4. Make space for reflection.

It’s important to provide coachees opportunity and time to reflect. It’s easy to plow ahead in coaching conversations. Patience gives space for insights to emerge and take root.


  1. What is shifting in your thinking?
  2. What do you observe about this situation?
  3. What are you noticing about yourself?

7 coaching tips:

  1. Get comfortable with silence.
  2. Generate multiple options.
  3. Monitor your inner control freak. When you feel yourself finishing someone’s sentences, sit back and relax.
  4. Always move conversations toward the future. One difference between coaching and counseling is focus. Counseling spends more time on the past. Coaching is a forward-facing activity.
  5. Generate behavioral solutions to problems and/or opportunities.
  6. End with, “What would you like me to ask you next time?” (This is accountability that is controlled by the coachee.)
  7. Set a followup meeting.

Which of the above ideas seem most useful to you?

How might inexperienced coaches increase their confidence?

*I relax the 300 word limit on Solution Saturday.