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Coaching Role Models

Have you tried a career coach?

I feel like I’m at a bit of a disadvantage regarding this week’s assignment. It’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve experienced coaching, and I’ve only been coached professionally three times in my life, that I can remember anyway. Nonetheless, for this week’s assignment I will attempt to define a coaching role model and will define the attributes I admire most. I’ll also discuss how I can make a meaningful difference in another person’s life.

My Coaching Role Models

Frankly, I don’t have a coaching role model. “Many leaders can point to multiple individuals who played coaching roles at various times in their development” (Ting & Scisco, 2006, p. 35), but aside from the softball coaching I mentioned last week, I’ve only been professionally coached three times in my life. While both coaches were okay, neither coach stood out as being particularly talented nor worthy of role model status. I had two coaching sessions with a fellow student in a class here at Capella. She did a very good job of using the GROW method of coaching, but she, like I, was just learning the craft. I have had one session with one of the professional coaches at Capella. One session isn’t enough to determine her capabilities, and while she might be an exceptional coach, I’ve yet to see exemplary coaching.

With such brief encounters, it’s difficult to comment on the relationship behaviors of these two women. My student coach was quite good at getting me to open because she displayed empathy and understanding. She didn’t push me with her own agenda, and she let me lead the sessions we had. She was a fun learning partner, and we maintained a good relationship even after the class was complete. I’ve only had one session with my professional coach from Capella, so we’re still in the discovery stage. “Building trust is a critical element of any good coaching relationship” (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007, p. 92), but at this early stage in our relationship, trust is still in the making. We have our second session next week, and I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on how our relationship develops.

Role Model Attributes

Although I don’t have a coaching role model, I can certainly imagine what such a person would be like. “At its core, the coaching relationship is a strong personal connection between two individuals that typically occurs out of public view...” (Ting & Scisco, 2006, p. 36). It takes trust to build a strong personal connection, so a role-model coach would need to be authentic and genuinely care about their coachee. “In the absence of trust, little can be accomplished” (Ting & Scisco, 2006, p. 37).

Another attribute I would appreciate in a coach is the ability to focus on my issues without pushing their own agenda. When I’m being coached, I want to dwell on my issues. I understand if my coach has pertinent experience to share then it is in my best interests to listen to their advice. However, in all my coaching sessions, the coach somehow pulled the focus from me and directed it to their own issues. While I was able to get the conversation back to my own focus, it was frustrating to have to lead the conversations in that way.

A final attribute I’d like to see in my role-model coachee is an instinctive questioning ability. “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance” (Whitmore, 2009, p. 10). Questioning methods, particularly the appreciative inquiry method, are designed to help the coachee open, and delve into their often-subconscious desires. Without good questioning skills, the coachee may be left with feelings of doubt that can undermine any progress made through the coaching session. “With knowledge, humans can change their world” (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007, p. 23). Answering the questions posed by a coach helps the coachee gain knowledge about their own situation, so questioning skills are an essential attribute for a leader-coach.

Making a Meaningful Difference

In order for me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people I coach I need to develop strong relationships and let them know that I have their best interests at heart. “People perform better and are happier at work when they use primarily their strengths” (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007, p. 30). To help students find their strengths, I’ll use a combination of positive reinforcement and questioning so they can begin to define their own values.

“Humans are not very good at forecasting their feelings, and as a result, are not necessarily adept at improving their well-being” (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007, p. 31). This is very true in the case of the students I work with. Many of them come from under-privileged homes where negativity is an everyday part of life. By letting them define their values and look at why they feel the way they feel, I can assist them in making the changes they need to make to succeed. I plan to empower them with their own success by making them responsible for their own accomplishments.


My lack of a coaching role model will not hold me back when it comes to coaching others. The students in my life badly need to be shown ways they can achieve success. I think appreciative coaching is going to be an excellent tool for me to use in aiding them to find themselves and the path that’s best for them. Developing trusting relationships will be the key, and my goal is to help them become the best person they can be.


Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2007). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Orem, S., Binkert, J., & Clancy, A. (2007). Appreciative Coaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ting, S., & Scisco, P. (2006). The CCL handbook of coaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance. Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.