I recently wrote about being a mean coach. It is a label that I wear with pride, as it means I’m not shy about having hard conversations, providing honest feedback, and pushing my clients to become the best possible versions of themselves.

At Actionable, I am an Integration Coach, which basically means I spend my days coaching the coaches. My job is to to work with our amazing Actionable Consulting Partners, who come from across North America (and beyond!) as consultants and coaches with thriving businesses who want to create further growth, and scale their businesses by getting out of the “front of the room.”

When coaching a coach or consultant, the focus is still the same, except that from my vantage point of subject matter expert in Actionable Conversations and objective observer of their practice, I can help them see their activities and clients in a new light.

Sometimes even the coach gets stuck. While I know our business, it takes time to understand how our coaches and consultants work with their clients. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. While our platform and the processes to use the material we provide is consistent, giving the best ideas and coaching takes time and practice.

This can be difficult to do because not only is it a business shift—adding a new component to how coaches and consultants work with clients—but there is also a mindset shift for both them and their clients.

These curious and savvy consultants and coaches are empowering their clients to lead their own development through Actionable Conversations, while they coach from the sidelines—from a much higher and more strategic level, using the metrics and insights they have to provide.

The client needs to get used to coaching from a different perspective—the focus will move from single leader coaching to discussions of measurable insights and how the leader will handle the next steps that relate to those insights.  

While my approach varies on a case-by-case basis, my work with these consultants and coaches generally involves delving into the following areas:

  • Setting goals for their business/practice
  • Clearly identifying their activities
  • Providing subject-matter and tool expertise
  • Brainstorming through specific scenarios for embedding a new process into the service they provide their clients, and how to articulate that in writing, verbally, and online
  • Connecting them with other partners and sharing expertise on how to share insights and next steps with clients or new prospects
  • Keeping them from “sliding into the weeds,” and coaching or consulting in their previous style, elevating them to the strategic partner

My key objective is to help them live the new agenda—an evolving practice that requires new skills, and new habits—just like what they will be providing to their clients.

Where it gets tough is when I have to fight the urge to dive in myself—to get into the weeds with them on the specifics of their practice—to guide at a deeper level. Throughout the evolution of my role, I’ve realized that I simply cannot solve our partner’s problems for them.

I have to be a coach, and they need to do the work. Furthermore, they need to help their clients do the work.

I provide the guardrails to keep them on track, help them reach their goals and work through obstacles—whether it’s unfamiliar processes or lack of understanding of tools that are available to them, or getting them out of their own way by reminding them of their agenda to get out of the middle of the room—I work with our partners to help them coach their clients from the sidelines using a strategic approach that focuses on the metrics of behavior change.

While the context has shifted, from coaching my own clients to coaching the coaches, the same principles apply. It’s not my job to solve problems—it’s up to me to help the people that I work with learn the skills necessary to solve their own problems.

Sometimes I have to be mean. And sometimes I have to remind myself to pull back from problem-solving mode and think like a coach. But the work is extremely rewarding, and the respect I am able to cultivate with our community by being open and honest is worth ruffling a few feathers from time to time.


Coaching the Coaches