Ep 141 – 5 Questions to Test Your Coaching Business Integrity

This episode is inspired by my own breaches in integrity over the 2 decades plus that I’ve been a coach and some I see other coaches stumble with as well.

If you took coach training, hopefully you were provided with some standard ethical guidelines that need to be followed with your clients. Things like:

  • Keeping your coaching client’s contact info and what they say confidential unless they give express permission for you to share some part of it.
  • Setting personal and time boundaries with clients.

Beyond that, no one talks much about ethics and integrity in coaching.

Coaching is not currently a regulated field so it’s doubly important that you, as the professional coach, regulate yourself. That helps all coaches and the future of coaching.

Complaints about coaches hurt the field of coaching. And we really don’t want this field to be regulated, as it would greatly change the coaching industry for the worse.

What It Really Means to Be a Professional Coach

Have you realized that YOU are a PROFESSIONAL? Take this in.

Own the fact that what you do is a professional service and you are a trained professional offering serious and consequential experiences through your coaching.

When I say serious and consequential, I mean that you could hurt someone just as easily as you could help them.

I don’t think you should fear the possibility of hurting someone, but it’s wise to consider it often. More and more I craft what I say to clients both verbally and in writing.

When a client pays you for your services it automatically changes the power differential. You have a bit more or maybe a lot more perceived power than your client. You can equalize that by:

  • The respect you show your clients. Acknowledge always that they are resourceful, intelligent and whole human beings who don’t need you to survive. They can take of themselves.
  • Encouraging them to take full responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and actions.

I even have a sentence about this in my Coaching Agreement — part of my intake packet (also called a welcome or onboarding packet.)

As a professional you have an obligation to improve and maintain your integrity – your professional boundaries and more.

A Make or Break Factor of Your Coaching Business Success

Beyond being the right thing to do, I’ve come to think of integrity as a make it or break it factor in coaching business success.

I’ve seen how the way coaches conduct themselves affects their ability to earn well.

For example, if a coaching relationship is damaged by a breach of some sort that’s not addressed quickly that bad energy can float out and infect your business. People may not want to work with you even if they don’t know why.

Your integrity is about your core values in life, business, relationships — everything. It’s a set of principles that guide your words and actions – and even your mindset to help you to be your best self and do well at everything you do.

5 Powerful Questions to Check In With Your Integrity Level

To raise your integrity in your coaching business, look at all of these areas:

  1. What you do and say with clients
  2. What you do and say with potential coaching clients – including your marketing practices, social media posting, the words on your website, how you enroll clients
  3. Your business habits and timeliness
  4. How honest you are with yourself about what’s going on with your business.

Consider checking in with yourself every month or so. Ask yourself …

Am I operating from my integrity?

Am I conducting all aspects of my coaching business in an honest and authentic way?

Do I feel good about what I’m saying and doing with coaching clients?

Do I feel good about how I market and all the content I put out?

If you can say without a doubt ‘yes’ to these questions, you’re doing well. Here’s a different powerful question that will help you uncover the blind spots:

Am I regretting any decision, action or conversation I’ve had in the last few months?

If yes, take the time as soon as possible to look closely at this and take action to correct it. With clients it could be something that’s nagging at you but that you avoid dealing with.

Maybe you charge too little for your services and you’re feeling resentful?

Do you have a client you know is not a good fit for you?

Did something come out of your mouth in a session that could have been said better?

Look, this is human stuff. No one is infallible. Everyone makes ethical mistakes. However, coaches should be held to a high standard. It means, bringing awareness to this and consciously choosing your words and actions.

Ep 136 – The Downside of Coaching for Corporations

This episode is for those thinking they’ll make a lot more money coaching for corporations.

I had a Strategy Session recently with a client to help him choose his target audience and niche. We were discussing whether he wanted to target individuals or corporations.

I asked that because I could see his expertise and interests were centered on helping execs develop talent.

At first he wasn’t sure so I told him the pros and cons of targeting corporations. Mainly, it’s about the hassle factor.

When a corporation hires you you will likely have to:

  • Compete for the many corporate and executive coaches plus coaching firms.
  • Write proposals and give presentations to get the contract.
  • Invoice the organization and be paid slowly.
  • Be certified by the International Coach Federation or another well-known accreditor.
  • Have significant expertise in corporate and possibly in the roles you’ll coach.
  • Possibly report to the supervisor or HR department about your progress.
  • And likely not be able to hold all confidences.

Not to mention that you will have to charge market rates.

All of that boils down to giving up a lot of control — of your income, your hours, what you deliver and how.

Also, you’ll need to market to the decision maker — the person who will evaluate and hire you — rather than the individual or groups you coach. You’ll need your website and other messaging to be about the outcomes the corporation wants not the individuals.

A lot of people believe that you can earn significantly more money with corporate contracts. Not necessarily true.

You may earn more for a set term or contract but only if you don’t charge higher prices for work you do with individuals.

I advocate that coaches create a long term, high ticket Signature Program and provide a VIP service to individuals. You’ll only need a handful of clients each year and can earn well.

Me? I like to control every aspect of my business. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to work for myself.

I want to decide exactly how I’ll work with clients, what I’ll charge, when I work and who I serve. A good fit is important. That won’t be 100% possible with corporate coaching.

With corporate coaching you may not have control over any of those things.

I also really appreciate that the people I serve and also the people that invest in working with me. I find they are highly dedicated to the process and their own success. Whereas sometimes when someone else is paying for the services the individual you coach is not fully invested.

Think about it … when you pay out of your own pocket you’re a lot more motivated to squeeze all the juice out of the experience.

All that said … I realize that for some your skills, background and passions may be perfect for corporate coaching. So, if you decide to go that way do your best to have control over your business.

The best way to do that is to narrow your focus. That’s right … niche down.

Rather than trying to do everything for all corporate employees, specialize. If you become known for offering something no one else does in the corporate arena, and it’s something that is highly prized by decision makers, you’ll have more control.

That Strategy Session client? That’s what he decided. To avoid the dog and pony show he’s targeting mid-size businesses in a certain industry.

These businesses don’t have internal human development departments. They aren’t snobby about certifications. They want competent help and will recognize it by the fact that he speaks their language and understands what’s in the way of their big goals. Smart!

That’s how you stand out!

Ep 88 – Watch for These Red Flags About Coaching Clients

This episode is part of a series called Manage Your Coaching Clients, which already has 3 important episodes about setting boundaries clients, the intake process and keeping your clients on track.

Recently in my Facebook group called Prosperous Coach Club, members have started discussions about specific challenges with current clients. And that’s what inspired this series.

The topic of client management is deep. And there’s not a lot of intel out there about how to deal with paying clients. It’s one of trial by fire things. But you know me, I want to bee line you to success so I’m going to cover this stuff!

As a new coach there are certain challenges that will come up with paying clients that diminish as you gain experience.

When you charge highly for your services, clients are more committed and generally easier to work with. So do yourself a favor and charge more. I have a whole series on Money Mastery at prosperouscoach.com/money

This episode covers the red flags to watch for.

And then in successive sessions I’ll dig into what to do if you notice one of these red flags.

Find Your Integrity

Everyone knows what a red flag is. When it flies you as the professional are called to pay close attention and get ready for action. Exactly what you’ll do depends on lots of factors. But when it comes to managing clients the name of the game is find your integrity.

To quickly master client management issues, the first thing to do is raise your awareness … both about your client’s behavior AND your response to their behavior.

The Two Types of Red Flags are About:

  1. Your client.
  2. Your feelings about your client.

Both might indicate issues in the fit between you and your client. Client fit is incredibly important for you to have an enjoyable and lucrative business.

It may seem right now that you should coach anyone who wants to hire you. It’s a point of maturity when you realize and accept that not every client is a good fit for you.

The 7 Parts of the Coaching Client’s Role

The red flags for clients all have to do with ways they do not successfully take on their role in the co-creative relationship.

The client’s role is to:

  1. Show up for scheduled sessions
  2. Show up on time for scheduled sessions
  3. Pay their payments on time (although I recommend you move to a full fee up front policy)
  4. Be communicative
  5. Be truthful or forthcoming about details
  6. Take responsibility for their growth by taking actions and making progress
  7. Be coachable

For the first 6, at the very least you’ll need to bring the issue to your client’s and make a strong request that’s neutrally charged. I’ll explain more about this in other episodes.

The 7th part of a client’s role is fundamental. I know it seems odd but some clients aren’t coachable. Coach-ability is crucial for the health of the relationship and for them to get value out of your services. I’ll cover that soon in another episode because it’s complex.

Right Response To Your Coaching Clients

For now, let’s talk about the red flags in your response to working with your clients. These can be subtle feelings and approaches that are driven by your strong desire to serve and have income as a coach.

For example:

  • You feel drained by sessions with a client.
  • Your coaching approach is driven by a desire to perform well
  • Your coaching approach is driven by a desire to fix the client
  • You notice yourself being inauthentic
  • You feel resentful of how much time or energy this client takes (which may be an indication you’re not charging enough)

Each one indicates a breach in your integrity. It’s a signal that you have an opportunity to fortify your boundaries and stand in your power – not to dominate the client but to be more fully in your integrity with this client.

Coaching people is a huge responsibility. And there’s a tendency to either inflate your responsibility or deflate it. Everyone does this.

And you can teach yourself not to do it. A point of mastery your goal is to stay right-sized. For more about this, read my blog post called 5 Ways to Right Size Yourself to Empower Your Coaching Clients.

When you learn the way to be in power balance with your clients you become a better coach and a better person. You’ll feel more grounded, more certain of your value and less triggered.

In the Next Episode: Do You Shrink or Inflate Your Power with Coaching Clients?