What’s more important, the coaching relationship or the coaching process?

I know…I know…it’s a tricky question. It makes me remember a question from my childhood for which I had troubles in finding the proper answer, therefore, I usually chose the “politically correct” one, although I knew nothing about politics back then. Yup, that question: “Who do you love more, mom or dad?”. My answer back then: “Both.”

What’s interesting about coaching is that, although if seen from outside, it might look like a simple dialogue between the coach and the client, once the dialogue has a purpose, as defined by the client, it can become a powerful journey where the magic happens. 

What’s the magic that can happen? It depends on what the client is willing to explore in that journey. It can be an increased self-awareness or maybe, discovering what the client already knows and making that information more ready-to-be-used in the daily life or sometimes, understanding what knowledge he/she might need to add or actions he/she might need to take for reaching the targeted destination. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like having a magic wand that can turn wishes into reality… Then again, sometimes the feeling one gets to have at the end of the journey it’s pretty close to that. 

So, who’s the magic wand, then? To me, the client is. The coaching session might be just the right scenery for “the magic wand” to explore and find new ways to grow “its” own potential to make things happen.

Well then, what needs to be right in the scenery/coaching session for “the wand” to find new ways to put its magic into action when back into the world? One might say: “A lot of things are needed.” And they might be right. But in the interest of time, I would group them as follows: 

  • the client and his/her desire to work on its magic or “the wand”
  • a defined objective or “the wish”
  • a commonly agreed partnership between client and coach that evolves into a coaching relationship, so “the relationship” and 
  • a process to be followed or, to do it justice, especially for those moments when it reaches its best shape, let’s better call it “the flow”.

Assuming we know who “the wand” and “the wish” are, let’s have a look at the last two. 

The coaching relationship is just that partnership, or better said, it starts with it and ends with it and in itself is a small universe built on a lot of ingredients: mutual trust, openness, willingness to explore possibilities to grow, client-centricity and coach’s active presence, genuine curiosity and flexibility and so much more. It’s simple and complex, at the same time, as every relationship is. 

So, the remaining point of the scenery is the process behind or the map of the journey with the departure, the itinerary itself and the destination. The coaching process is built mainly through purpose-driven dialogue based on coach’s ability to ask questions that help the client to willingly explore and expand own perspectives and options and, in the same time, to identify the appropriate next steps towards the outcome the client desires. It’s as simple and as complex as the relationship itself, isn’t it?

Now, let’s look back to our initial question: “What’s more important, the coaching relationship or the coaching process?” 

Well, in this equation, I would go with the same answer: “Both. They are both equally important.”

Maybe with one small amendment… They are all important, but, if I am to choose, it all starts with the “wand”. That’s where the magic happens.  

What about you? Who do you love more?

Anișoara Roșca