The Coaching Mindset

By Jim LaDoux
In Chad Hall's book, The Coaching Mindset, the author highlights 8 mindsets a coach needs to pay attention to in order to develop their coaching presence. He reminds readers that coaches take a unique approach to helping their clients. Rather than tell people what to do, coaches help people tell themselves what to do. Rather than sharing expertise,  coaches draw forth the client's expertise.

Chad's book reminds readers that masterful coaching goes beyond learning coaching techniques and having a list of powerful questions. The journey to being a masterful coach also involves a shift in one's thinking about clients's role as well as their own. Listed below are a few of the "shifts" mentioned by the author invites you to consider when coaching clients :

1  |  Take  the  Dumb  Pill

Let go of being the expert. Let go of seeking to display your knowledge, brilliance and creativity.  Let go of trying the solve your clients problems and challenges. Instead, focus on bringing out the intellect , brilliance , awesome problem - solving ability and creativity of your client. Allow the client to shine rather than you.

2  |  Go  to  the  Movies

The author invites coaches to treat the coaching conversation like an adventure movie in which the client is the star, the hero, the main character, and the one moving the action forward. This shift is a reminder for coaches to remain engaged in a coaching conversation but avoid playing the starring role.

3  |  Embrace  the  Primitive

Coaches have a tendency to overthink which often prevents them from being fully present for the client.  Focus on asking simple, short questions and allow space for the client to do the processing of the questions you ask.

4  |  Follow  the  First  Rule  of  Improv

The first rule of improv  is to go with whatever the other person just said . Whatever your client says , just go with it . Go with positivity, curiosity and a spirit of “ Yes .”  Follow your client's lead and remain present and focused on the issues and ideas that are emerging from the conversation. See yourself as the client’s partner.

5  |  Get  Curious

Are you curious about your client's well-being and the issue they wish to address? Do you wonder about your clients' challenges, opportunities, passions, priorities, and where they want to go in life?  Let go of judging a client's motives and actions. Invite clients to explore their attitudes, actions, approaches, and assumptions. Maintain a mindset of curiosity while remaining detached from your clients' issues and outcomes. Walk alongside your clients without losing your capacity to be objective, offer fresh perspectives, or challenge their assumptions, beliefs, and biases.

6  |  Ask  for  Directions

There are times during coaching conversations where coaches are unsure of how to proceeds. Masterful coaches readily acknowledge these situations, and invite the client to help identify next steps, offering comments such as:
  • “ This sounds like a really important issue for you . What’s the best way for us to get started with it ? ”
  • "You've named several topics and I'm unsure about what we should focus on. What do you suggest?"

7  |  Avoid   the  Dark  Side  of  Empathy

The author states that “coaches think about empathy with clients differently than we do with others in our lives.  The reason is that in coaching we are here to help the other person experience forward movement toward his agenda; everything else is subservient to that goal.  And the problem with too much empathy is that it can distract us from that goal." When we empathize too much with the client,  it prevents coaches from being an objective observer.

8  |  Think  Like  a  Kid  with  a  Crayon

Coaches invite clients to think different – to make stuff up, to be creative, to experiment.  Experiment with embodying a playful mindset. Take risks with your clients and help clients do the same. Consider thinking like an artist. Consider experimenting like a scientist. Notice what works and what doesn’t work. Seek to constantly improve and reinvent. 


  1. If you're a "fixer," how do you avoid playing the role of an expert?
  2. The star in every movie has challenges to overcome.  How can coaches help clients name and overcome these challenges?
  3. What prevents you from "being improvisational" with your clients?
  4. How often do you ask clients for directions?  What prevents you from asking?
  5. What can coaches do to be fully present AND playful during sessions?
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