I’m conducting an experiment to desensitize myself to gluten. So far it’s going really well, and I’ve been paying more attention than ever to the ingredients in the bread we’ve been purchasing. Lists of additives a mile long have me considering digging out that old bread maker and making my own. A little research showed that bread is the product of a basic formula: flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast. Five ingredients, measured accurately and mixed properly, can create the chemistry for the most delicious and satisfying outcome. 

That got me thinking…creating success in the world of coaching and consulting is just like baking bread. Using the basics, create something awesome, experience success! 

Over the past 12 years in this business, I’m learning that the basics go way deeper than just checking the box on a number of competencies, though. Here’s the recipe that I’m working with today: 

1. Framework. Adopt a meaningful framework to hold and guide your work with clients. This gives you a solid stake in the ground to return to, especially when you’re not sure where things are headed. You know how coaches can sometimes be written off as “fluffy and ungrounded”? That’s a reflection of an absence of framework to hold things together and provide a direction of growth. If you find yourself wandering around aimlessly in your coaching conversations, a framework will be invaluable to you. Here at Anjali Leadership we love the frameworks that underpin The Leadership Circle instruments, namely: Creative Tension and Two Life Orientations.

2. Foundation. Develop your own strong and robust foundation. Leadership development and executive coaching is primarily an inside game. The inner work is essential if the outer game stuff is ever going to stick. In order to invite clients into the inner work (which most people are deathly afraid of), you need to prepare yourself and build a strong foundation so that you don’t succumb to your own fear and then let your clients off the hook. We use The Art and Heart of Coaching here at Anjali Leadership to hold feet to the fire (ours, and our clients’) – it provides a powerful engine to all of our work.

3. Self Development. Always be growing and developing yourself. This is a vital pre-requisite to helping your clients grow and develop themselves. It’s a matter of integrity – if you are speaking of something theoretically but aren’t living it, your clients won’t trust you and won’t feel safe to dive into the process. I’ve met hundreds of coaches over the years who are not in the process of being coached and it baffles my mind that they think they don’t need coaching. If you’re not walking the talk, you have no business to be talking. Period.

4. Self Care. As poet Mary Oliver entreats us: be determined to save the only life you can save – your own. Coaching, therapy, consulting and all other “helpful” professions are by nature occupied by people who are passionate, generous and giving. An occupational hazard is to give so much that you use yourself up in the process, ending up depleted. This lesson seems to be a lifelong one for me! At busy times, like right now as we move into our new offices and transition from “me” to “we”, I need to find the restorative moments – a short walk, a quiet cup of tea, five minutes to sit in meditation, playing a beautiful piece of music, a time-out from the screens and devices. When things are slower, I try to carve out longer periods of time for things that are not work-related – taking another writing course or taking off on a road trip with my family. This is a huge challenge for passionate and purposeful coaches and business owners, but it is essential.

5. Stories. Put your own stories into service. Here’s where it gets strategic. As you begin to mix the first 4 ingredients, you’ll get better and better at this one. Using your stories to illustrate a point, highlight a dynamic, preview a possible outcome or let people know they are not alone, is a proven and undoubtably powerful addition to all your great coaching models and questions. The key is to develop them, discern which one to share, using them elegantly for the sake of your client and their development.

How do these new basics align with your success recipe? 

If what you read resonates and you want to learn more, join us here in Toronto as we open our doors for Advanced Training for Coaches. We’ll be covering each of these new basics in more depth in this experiential training, with opportunities to practice and receive feedback from me on your coaching!