Developing Precision in Coaching

With the coaching marketplace becoming increasingly sophisticated, coaches and organizational consultants need to articulate how they add value for their clients.

At the Global Coaching Institute we believe one important marker of an advanced coach is their precision.  Here’s what we mean by that:

Coaching with Precision

Imagine you are a patient about to have a surgical procedure.  You don’t want your surgeon to just open you up and do a general search around for the problem.  That would be shockingly amateur, and would be a waste of your resources.

Instead you’d want the surgeon to have a clear understanding of anatomy and physiology, and to be following the signs and symptoms toward a solution to your problem.  Armed with this knowledge, your surgeon can skillfully and efficiently find their way around your body and will not waste your time looking for a brain tumor in your armpit.

For us as coach trainers, this means providing our students with a sound understanding of the dynamics of change.   Great coaching demands a nuanced understanding of human motivation and behavior, as well as asking powerful questions to unlock new insight in our clients.

Individual Psychology and Systems

Just as you would expect your surgeon to understand more than the workings of a single isolated organ, we train our coaches to go beyond individual psychology.  We see our clients as parts of a system, interacting in a changing environment.

Process oriented coaches are alert to systemic dynamics such as organisational politics, team relationships and the ways our professional roles influence our behavior.

In fact, like any advanced field of medicine or other science, our radar for those factors that influence client outcomes goes even further.  Process oriented coaches are alert to social dimensions of the client’s experience, such as the dynamics of power in society and within themselves.  How the client’s self-concept and the terrain they navigate are influenced by dominant messages of gender, race and ethnicity are also highlighted.

It is the process-oriented coach’s deep attention to multiple factors influencing their clients’ wellbeing, the ease or challenges they face, which makes them such a powerful ally.

Attention to Feedback

But something else adds to the GCI trained coach’s precision.  Attention to feedback goes far beyond any background understanding of the anatomy and physiology of growth and change.  Observing and acting on feedback takes place in the coaching moment, and is dependent on the acuity of the coach’s skills.

As I have mentioned previously, my first career and post graduate studies were in the field of neurology.  Perhaps that’s why I find neuro-surgery one of the most fascinating domains of medicine.  Precision is everything in neuro-surgery.

In most neuro-surgical procedures the client is awake, because the surgeon needs the clients feedback throughout the entire procedure.  Undertaking an operation and then waiting till the client wakes up to see whether the surgeon was on the right neural pathway is not an option.  The same applies to coaching.

Coaches partner with their clients to determine which path of enquiry to undertake.

At the Global Coaching Institute, we take partnering and the capacity to read feedback from our clients very seriously.  We are alert to the power differential that can be implicit within the coaching relationship.  It brings the potential for feedback to be slightly skewed in favor of pleasing the coach.

Working with Contradictory Feedback

We are also aware of something truly marvelous; the different feedback mechanisms that reflect the conscious and unconscious mind of the client.   Let’s say for instance, your client excitedly proclaims that they could NEVER do something.  Yet, at the same time, they smile and laugh and become animated.  Which part of this feedback should you follow?  The acuity of a process oriented coach is in their ability to spot simultaneous and contradictory feedback and to work with both, for sustainable growth and change.

Guided by Feedback

Returning to our analogy of the neuro-surgeon, the procedure is guided in part by the client’s feedback.  For coaches, this feedback, both verbal and non-verbal. may indicate a specific approach is needed, an intervention needs to be slowed down, or a slight segue should be taken, before returning  to the topic at hand.  For a process oriented coach, the energetic dimensions of feedback inform the coaching path as much as a client’s conscious choice of words.

Of course, coaches are not surgeons, but it is this surgical-like precision and acuity that clients are looking for.  It not only ensures they are in good hands, but also guarantees you will pick up the subtle cues and clues that other coaches miss.  That is a real value add.

Interested in developing greater precision and acuity in your coaching practice?  Check out our upcoming programs in Australia and Barcelona.





This stuff is still under development, so not appropriate yet.

please connect with us or request our What Is Process Oriented Coaching Whitepaper.


The Coach as an Instrument of Change

At the Global Coaching Institute, we firmly believe the coach is an instrument of change.

By that we mean your very being, the way you show up, the way you know yourself, the way you hold yourself, the way you engage others is central to supporting the growth of others.

For this reason, we are committed to offering depth-training for coaches.  We understand that coaches are called to act as an instrument of change, both when working with their dream clients and when deeply challenged by the content or dynamic under investigation.

This makes becoming a coach a powerful path of personal and professional growth.

After all, how can a coach support the growth and development of others, unless they have a first-hand appreciation of what it means to grow themselves.  We learn so much about the journey of growth – the highs and the lows – by embarking on a committed growth pathway ourselves.

In our experience, there are key indicators that a coach has worked on themselves enough to step into being an agent of change.


Coaches who are committed to self-awareness understand their own values and beliefs.  Being more conscious of our own values and beliefs helps coaches ensure we don’t impose them on others.  When we are unconscious of our values, we let them leak into the coaching conversation.  Those unconscious values become leading questions or clear patterns of avoidance which skew the coaching session away from the client’s needs.


Entering An Equal Partnership

Coaching emphasizes the partnership between coach and client as an equal relationship.  Having previously practiced as an educator, therapist and consultant, I find this to be one of the distinguishing features of coaching.  It demands that the coach is fully present in relationship without the cloak of expertise.  Instead we enter a relationship in which roles and approaches must be negotiated from first principles.

Coaches who are self-aware and recognize their own needs and relationship tendencies enter the coaching relationship more consciously.  Aware of their vulnerabilities and tendencies, they are able to reflect on what they bring and the unconscious dynamics which can play out within helping relationships.  For instance, a need to be validated may result in the coach wanting their client to respond positively to their coaching interventions.  This gets in the way of partnering equally with our clients.

Following The Client

The cornerstone of a process-oriented approach to coaching is the ability to drop our own agenda and follow some-one else’s growth process.  In order to follow the client and be fully present to what is happening for them, we need to put ourselves and our own agenda to the side.  However, we can only do this when we feel solid, seen and whole within ourselves.  Otherwise we unconsciously co-opt the coaching relationship for our own needs and validation.

In order to forget ourselves for a moment and bring our whole selves to focusing on the client and their growth, we need a well-developed internal core.

Being Agile

Entering the world of our client’s needs can be challenging, especially if their growth lies in a direction that we ourselves are personally uncomfortable with.  Take for example the coaching client who wants to make a firmer stand when challenged.  If you as a coach are primarily committed to collaboration and being a peace maker, or if you have a history of trauma and abuse in which power has been misused in your own life, you may subtly avoid this dimension of the client’s development.  You might encourage them instead to adopt the same default behaviors you have cultivated in yourself.

In our coach training programs, we support coaches to become agile – to be comfortable with peace making and to be equally comfortable with taking a firm stand, despite opposition from others.   Acquiring this level of agility requires coaches to work on their own growing edges.  Or, in Jungian and process oriented terms, to embrace aspects of their own potential which they have marginalized and disowned.

When a coach accepts the invitation to use their own awareness and presence as an instrument of change, they begin to work in profound ways to support growth and awareness in their clients.

To learn more about Process Oriented Coaching check out our forthcoming training programs in Australia and Barcelona.