When Do You Stop Needing A Coach?

I have benefited from having coaches, mentors, sponsors, and therapists. These people have helped my development and growth. They have led me to “pay it forward” to become a mentor and leadership coach. While mentoring has no time limit, coaching does have a limit. The question is, “When do you stop needing a coach?”

Whenever I begin coaching a client, we spend the first session getting to know one another. We see if we can dance with one another without stepping on toes. We seek to see if the vibe between us works.

It is important to be clear on the client’s desired outcomes. My coaching focuses on helping clients develop skills to improve performance, increase effectiveness, and raise emotional intelligence. These are fundamental behaviors for good leadership. Perhaps there is a desired behavior change of overcoming a bad habit with a new habit. While some coaches seek a successful outcome with better efficiencies, I seek to help the coaching client to be more effective by being more significant with others, which impacts their ability to lead themselves and others. After all, leadership is about relationships.

Early in the process, I do a SWOT where clients acknowledge their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Discovering opportunities and threats can help with developing needed skills. I help clients to imagine they will be on the front cover of Today’s Leader magazine three years from today. What will be the headline? What will be the significant accomplishments, notable quotes, and key learnings? I ask the client to project their legacy and the future they wish to create.

When does coaching reach its end?

Every one of us is a continual work in progress dealing with our imperfections, warts, scars, mistakes, and failures. When we reach a state of loving ourselves just as we are, accepting our imperfections, having a good practice of self-compassion, and can laugh at ourselves, perhaps it’s time to stop coaching. Confidence has been achieved.

Good coaching sessions have a flow where conversations go deep, challenge thinking, and create AHAs! When those conversations no longer happen, that may be a sign that coaching has run its course. At the heart of coaching are the questions that get asked. When the coaching client can ask themselves better questions than I am asking, coaching is no longer needed.

One size fits one. – Tom Peters

There is also a need to end coaching when the client is no longer committed to doing the work they need to do. I usually send a pre-work email to clients on issues to discuss and give them homework assignments to help them prepare for the upcoming discussion. It’s time to stop coaching when the client doesn’t do the pre-work and gives excuses.

There are some skills I am very good at in coaching others. There are other skill sets I am not good at. If the coaching client could use a coach with stronger skill sets in an area I am weak, I refer them. I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am that shot of whiskey for some!

If coaching discussion moves from discussing skills to issues around unhealthy relationships (i.e., marriage), regulating emotions (i.e., anger management), unhealthy coping skills (i.e., addictions), processing a traumatic event (i.e., PTSD), or mental illness, I recommend the client find a therapist.

What has led to you telling a coach, “Thank you! I no longer need you.”

What has led a coach to tell you, “I don’t think you need my coaching any longer.”