Coaching Case Study By Samantha Smith
(Modern Deportment Coach, UNITED STATES)
1. Who are the main players in this case study
‘Jane’ is from London, a former colleague of mine who kindly volunteered at the start of my ICA studies to be my practice client and case study for this outcome. I have conducted ten sessions with Jane to date.
2. What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
The core problem was what Jane saw as a lack of confidence. She wanted coaching to help her become a more confident person. She had felt confident as a teenager and in her early twenties, but in her late thirties, she felt a distinct lack of confidence and direction. She has travelled extensively, experienced many different cultures, lived in many places, but after returning to London and settling down she found herself feeling stuck, anxious, lacking a defined ‘career’ and placing great significance on not feeling strength or confidence.
The worst thing about the problem for Jane is feeling like she is the root of her problems, that she is at fault for her fears and not knowing how to move forward. She blames herself for her rut.
Jane decided she lacks in confidence and this belief has formed a strong part of her approach to life.
2. What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
Jane is an expressive communicator and able to explain her feelings and emotions clearly. I found that listening intently was an essential skill to enable her to see that I cared enough to give her space to talk, and to remember from week to week what she had been saying. It enabled me to earn her respect and her trust in the process of coaching.
I found that my natural fascination with her story left me relaxed and curious and able to ask thoughtful questions which in-turn allowed Jane to discover things about herself that she had forgotten. When these discoveries were brought to light she was able to begin to trust herself, acknowledge her own confidence, and work with Appreciative Enquiry the replicate the structures and patterns that supported her in feeling ‘together’ and confident in the past.
The process of feedback allowed me to draw her awareness towards the ongoing evidence of self confidence that she repeatedly displays in her life, yet was failing to register.
3. Explain your process in detail
My process developed greatly as my knowledge of coaching increased! I am thankful for having Jane’s support and patience in what was not initially coaching! For example, it was not until I learned about the coaching agreement that I incorporated it, and even then it was several sessions of practice before I got the hang of using the agreement.
As my learning of coaching increased so did by ability to refrain from giving ideas or making judgments!
In coaching Jane I was able to make use of different coach skills and power tools. We addressed her values and purpose, which allowed her to realize she has strong feelings and a guiding path to follow. We worked on creating awareness of the times she has shown confidence and Appreciative Enquiry to build on her strength.
Using acknowledgement was an emotional process for Jane as she felt that she had never stopped to acknowledge things she had achieved – only stop to dwell on things she felt she had done wrong. She asked to be held accountable on her acknowledgement and sent me daily evening text updates on aspects of her day where she had shown confidence.
Working with such an open and willing client for the ten sessions we have had so far is like watching an amazing and exciting mini-series unfold. Each week the character develops and more of the plot is revealed, she is very clearly creative, resourceful and the expert of her life, she now realizes that as much as I do. I feel fortunate to witness the transformational power of an ongoing coaching relationship.
4. What were the results of your process?
Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not? There were many learnings through the results of my process. I was extremely fortunate to have such a willing client to allow me to test my ideas and coaching style (which I hope improved greatly during the process!). As a program it was effective – the beauty of a client reaching her goal is a great process to be part of. I definitely believe the power tools and ICA Coach Skills that informed my questions were effective and my coaching model as I developed it and incorporated it was a great framework for the process.
I do know that my learning curve was in the questioning – and learning to conduct myself as a coach, maintaining awareness of the PCC Markers, Core Competencies, and implementing a strong coaching agreement within each session.
5. If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
I need to stay with the client and out of the story. I find this difficult because for me it makes sense that inquiring into the story can encourage client towards self awareness; for example in regards to a relationship that the client has referred to several times as problematic – staying out of the story means not knowing the connection between this persons behavior and the client bringing awareness to why they are not moving forward.
If I could approach this problem again I would also have greater awareness of returning the client to the coaching agreement when things begin to wander, I would ensure stricter control from the start on my urge to contribute – it was a wonderful realization through all of my peer coaching sessions and this case study combined that a client almost always prefers his or her way and therefore the coach is far more successful in assisting the client to generate his or her own actions than whatever the coach might feel is particularly brilliant that day.
6. What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
That coaching is a enlightening experience for both client and coach and watching someone break through their ‘mist’ is a joy.
That we really are the experts of our lives. We hold the answers but we need someone we trust to ask the questions.
That accountability needs a creative approach to leave the engaged and inspired. Motivation can fizzle within five minutes of the session if the client is not actively engaged in areas she has asked to be held accountable.