It is important to find a well-trained coach and make sure it is a good fit for you. I offer a free introductory coaching session for just that reason.

Part 6: Communication When Coaching An Athlete Versus Coaching An Executive

Photo by Shiro Hatori

Establishing Communication

Communication is probably the single most important skill I work on with clients.  No matter the type of coaching, establishing communication with clear meaning and intention is vital for success.


Developing key words and phrases that hold pre-established meaning adds great value in any coaching relationship. One example in ski coaching includes creating easily repeatable code words to be used while the skier is moving down the mountain. Using the word “fold” communicates to the skier to begin flexing at the ankles and knees.  Establishing the word “fold” and its meaning was done in the learning part of the coaching process; creating an efficient way to communicate while moving down the hill.


Executives also benefit from creating key words to use when entering situations with pressure or conflict. I worked with one executive who recited “listen” during staff meetings – he became regarded as a great listener.  When working with a very dynamic and fast paced executive needing lots of space to formulate clear thoughts, we established she would use the code word “processing” so I knew when to let long silences pass in support of her flow of thought.


Coaching Skills

The executive coach uses process skills instead of subject matter expertise to develop an executive’s soft skills.  The executive coach uses the process of questioning, listening, and reflecting what the executive already knows.  This process empowers the executive to unleash existing knowledge in a way that moves them toward their self-identified goals.


The sports coach most often has the ability to  physically demonstrate or play back a video of the athlete and compare unwanted  movement to wanted movement. This tool isn’t readily used in the executive world because the new skills being developed are often more introspective rather than extro-spective. Sports coaches, most often, have physically experienced what they are teaching and are able to use that experience to communicate verbally and/or physically with the athletes.  In contrast, the executive coach may or may not have the same job skills as the executive. The point being, soft skills are soft skills and are experienced by all.


Another important difference when coaching in the executive world is that the leader may not be the sole content expert and tends to be more of a generalist who not only needs to grasp what others are doing but needs to learn from them as well. This opens a new dimension of communication in the executive world that isn’t necessarily there in the sports coaching world.


Roles of the Coach

The role of each type of coach also presents a difference that effects communication:

The ski coach is teaching whereas the executive coach is partnering.

The ski coach is telling whereas the executive coach is listening.

The ski coach is more often developing new skills whereas the executive coach is more often fostering already present skills and creating an environment for self-awareness.

As a result of these differences, the communication is different. Ultimately, the sports coach assesses the student whereas the executive coach supports the executive to assess him or her self.


The similarity for both coaches is in creating awareness and action for improvement.


Whether with the executive or the athlete, a learning environment impacts communication. I identify as a doer more than a thinker and prefer a quicker communication style. Recently though, in a learning situation, I became more thoughtful and detail oriented. I needed more time to formulate my answers. The experience was a good reminder of the importance of adapting one’s communication style to the receiver – especially in the learning environment.


In Part 7, we will cover Learning Styles, Personality Styles, and Environment

How can we make the learning from professional development stick?

I was recently asked by the CFO of a tech company, How can we make the learning from the professional development events we do, stick? So I went ahead and wrote this article…

Check out this article on LinkedIn: How can we make the learning from Professional Development Stick



What Creates A Trusting Environment?


A recent coaching session began with the client asking me, “How does one create a trusting workplace environment?”

This leader was struggling to enter into a new position and had the goal of building trust among his team. I loved that he cared so much about this because when people experience trust in their environment they are motivated to learn and be more productive.

Here are the highlights of what my client came to through our coaching session:

  • It begins with the leader.
  • Team members trust they can let their light shine and not be held back or overridden.
  • Team members trust it is safe to stretch and grow even if they may fail.
  • Team members trust they will be spoken to honestly whether they are overreaching or underperforming.
  • And most importantly, the entire team trusts that leadership values and practices confidentiality.

The importance of confidentiality, especially from leadership is critical for a trusting environment. Trusting one’s leader promotes each team member to trust one another and this promotes genuine behaviors and team members showing up as their authentic selves.

How will your workplace environment change, as team members whole-heartedly trust  leadership?

Coaching provides a solid checkpoint for leaders to enhance their workplace environment.

Request a complimentary Leadership Enhancement session today!


Free Sample Marketing


During a recent coaching session, a client was focusing on how to market herself as a coach. She expressed the recommended marketing steps felt uncomfortable and contrived. She described an interaction at a party where she was talking with someone telling of their challenges at work. My client felt confident she could help this person yet she didn’t feel it was appropriate to respond by marketing herself as a coach in this situation.

The question I asked my client was “What will happen when you simply act like a coach the next time that happens? Her response was “I will be giving them a taste of coaching.” Just as she finished saying it she realized it as an opportunity to provide a first-hand experience into coaching. She could offer it as a gift and that felt appropriate to her.

What a great way of marketing one’s self — to give, in the moment, a free sampling of what one has to offer…

Coaching is a gift and when the fit is right and the coach is well trained, it only takes a small taste to make a positive difference, leading one to want more. Offering one’s self as a coach in a random setting for the sake of exposing another to coaching is not only genuine for a true coach, it is a gift we coaches enjoy giving naturally.

So, if you are a coach, offer a free sample when the situation presents itself.

If you are not a coach, and you find yourself thinking more intentionally about things because of a conversation you had with a stranger, be aware that you may just have been given a gift; perhaps that person was a coach.

Finding a good fit is important and coaches often offer a free introductory session for just that reason.

Treat yourself; go get a free coaching sample today!

Request a proposal today!