Coaching Case Study By Laure Makarem
(Youth & Family Coach, LEBANON)
H.H. had already completed 6 successful hours of pro bono coaching, and being curious about the ‘back end’ of coaching / how the magic really works, she agreed to exploring 1 experimental session in return of the favor.
H.H. moved from Lebanon to Dubai a little over a year ago. She was offered a promotion at her job that required her to leave her life and family in pursuit of a “golden opportunity” she could not refuse.
She “hated” her job back home as she was working with a difficult team and abusive superiors – constantly over-timing and exhausted due to how the company was mismanaged and understaffed. The move presented her with much needed fresh air, a new team, and almost triple the salary.
She packed and left within one week of signing the contract.
Dubai was “ugly” and its people were “fake”.
H.H. was working 18 hours a day. Team dynamics were “nasty” and “destructive”. Colleagues were not welcoming and uncooperative. Superiors were “bosses, not leaders”. And H.H. was still over-timing, still suffocated, spending over half her salary on rent and food, feeling bound by a contract she could not break, and living a routine that was killing her creativity and sapping her energy altogether.
She resorted to coaching after a thorough evaluation of her life choices, and by the end of our coaching journey, she was able to achieve the following:
- Creating a vision
- Prioritizing her goals
- Quitting her job
- Planning her move to New York
As a coach, I have decided to dedicate this case study not to analyzing the successful coaching approach that led to the client’s action, but to validate that success by walking readers through the short experiment that marked our session before the last.
In this experiment, we flipped the coaching practice upside down and broke all the ICF codes of ethics and demonstrated the contrary of all the competencies. H.H. understood that “this is what coaching is NOT” but was not explained why or what exactly I was planning on doing differently.
The experiment took place at the right time, just as H.H. was reiterating her decisions, making her last moves, and struggling with her second thoughts.
For one session, I took the role of the “bad coach”:
- I adopted the client's agenda as my own, using language that directs the conversation towards what I assumed was best for the client.
- I asked yes-or-no questions, put the client under uncomfortable spotlight, and used statements that were challenging and rather provocative.
- I used a judgmental tone and asked "why" at every opportunity.
- I gave advice and practiced rather rough accountability.
- I focused on the client's past and future vision, more than the present.
The session was risky, but beyond powerful. H.H. had gotten accustomed to a radically different approach, and the experiment threw her off-guard.
And the result:
H.H. pushed through, becoming more convinced than ever that she needed to get out of her comfort zone, take risks, challenge her second thoughts, not with the coach’s advice and statements, but with her own. She realized how focusing on the past was pulling her down, crippling her from thinking constructively and moving forward. She noted how, all throughout her journey a her job, she was asking herself “why” questions and sinking deeper into self-judgment and guilt. Most importantly, she understood that people’s opinions, namely her family’s, should not dictate her life choices. She acknowledged that her dreams were worth pursuing with all her heart.
It goes without saying that the results of this experiment would not have been possible without the prior pure coaching sessions that built up towards its success.
The process required my full presence and engagement with the client, as we explored various perspectives together, identified and worked through her underlying beliefs, and put together the jigsaw puzzle that revealed her true vision stripped off any judgment and fear. Throughout our conversations, I practiced listening fully and with an open heart, expressing compassion and encouragement through my questions, and drawing a full circle that took us back to the client’s goal: creating a life she can love and carry with pride.
In our last session, H.H. took full initiative to finally act upon the dreams she had designed throughout our journey together. She is now in New York – where she has brought her inspiration and creativity back to life, and is finally illustrating for a living.
- Coaching is merely a tool that can support a client through their ‘project’.
All success boils down to client themselves, their will and their effort.
- Risks taken at the right moment during the coaching journey can lead to powerful insight and change. Coaches can get creative in the ways we build on the client’s momentum, depending on the client’s character and style.
- Clients may present us with problems/issues/material that can be scary, but it is worth shrugging off our feelings of insecurity or incompetence and approaching the matter with an open mind because this is a golden opportunity for learning and challenging ourselves.