Questioning the Core: Is Coaching More Than Just Goals?

Jan 29, 2024

“Goals are just the surface; the real coaching journey dives much deeper.”

This bold statement challenges the traditional focus of coaching, pushing the boundaries towards a more holistic approach. It’s not merely about what clients aim to achieve; it’s about uncovering the layers of their identity – the ‘Who’, which often holds the key to their true aspirations and challenges. This perspective turns the conventional coaching approach on its head, suggesting that the path to achieving goals is intricately linked with understanding the client’s deeper self.

In the following exploration, readers will be guided through the transformative power of holistic coaching, uncovering insights and strategies that promise to enrich their coaching practice and deepen their understanding of the profound connection between a client’s inner world and their external goals.

Delving into the ‘Who’ and the ‘What’

  • Understanding the ‘Who’: The Internal Landscape of the Client

The ‘Who’ of a client is like an iceberg, much of which lies beneath the surface. It encompasses their internal changes, potential, personality, and deeper life aspects. For instance, when a client approaches with a goal to improve leadership skills, a holistic coach delves deeper, exploring underlying beliefs, values, and personal challenges. This exploration often leads to profound internal changes, illuminating the client’s path to self-discovery and growth.

  • Navigating the ‘What’: Addressing Specific Goals and Values

In contrast, the ‘What’ focuses on the client’s external goals and aspirations. It’s about the tangible, measurable outcomes they wish to achieve. A coach working on the ‘What’ might help a client develop a strategy to enhance team dynamics or achieve business growth. However, the magic happens when these external goals are aligned with the internal growth and discoveries made in exploring the ‘Who’.

The Role of ICF Core Competencies in Holistic Coaching

The International Coach Federation (ICF) core competencies play a pivotal role in guiding coaches through this holistic approach. These competencies emphasize powerful questioning, active listening, and maintaining a curious mindset. They encourage coaches to not only listen to what is being said but also to what lies unspoken, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of the client’s internal and external worlds.

Evolving from Amateur to Masterful Coaching

  • The Journey of Mastery: Embracing Depth and Complexity

The transition from amateur to masterful coaching is marked by a shift from a narrow focus on goals to embracing the complexity and depth of the client’s entire being. Masterful coaches are comfortable navigating the ambiguity and subtleties of the ‘Who’, understanding that this is where true transformation occurs. They recognize that each client is unique, and thus, their approach is tailored to fit the individual’s learning style, whether it’s emotional, cognitive, gut-based, or physical.

  • Emotional Intelligence and Learning Styles in Coaching

Addressing emotions and learning styles is crucial in holistic coaching. When clients are uncomfortable discussing emotions, masterful coaches use alternative approaches, such as focusing on changes in energy or thought patterns. This flexibility allows coaches to connect with clients on a deeper level, facilitating a more profound and impactful coaching experience.

Engaging and Relatable Coaching: Bringing Humanity to the Forefront

  • Humanizing Coaching with Real-Life Examples

The power of holistic coaching is best illustrated through real-life examples. Imagine a senior leader, seemingly detached from their set goals, revealing deeper existential questions about their role and purpose. A masterful coach listens, observes, and gently guides, allowing the client to navigate this self-discovery journey. This approach often leads to a reevaluation of goals, with the ‘What’ naturally aligning with the newfound understanding of the ‘Who’.

  • Creating a Safe Space for Growth and Discovery

In holistic coaching, creating a safe and trusting environment is paramount. It’s about earning the client’s trust, allowing them to unravel their deepest thoughts and feelings. This process is akin to a dance, where both coach and client move in sync, exploring the unknown and discovering new possibilities.

As we reach the culmination of this exploration into holistic coaching, it becomes evident that this approach is far more than a mere methodology. It’s a transformative journey that honors and nurtures the entirety of the client’s being. This journey is about recognizing that each client is a unique blend of thoughts, feelings, experiences, and aspirations. By mastering the delicate balance between the ‘Who’ and the ‘What’, coaches can facilitate profound changes, guiding clients not only towards achieving their goals but also in realizing their full potential.

Now, it’s your turn to reflect and engage. How will you integrate these insights into your coaching practice? Are you ready to delve deeper into the layers of your clients’ identities to unlock their true aspirations and challenges?

For those intrigued by the transformative power of holistic coaching and eager to explore this approach further, a comprehensive video detailing these insights awaits you on YouTube. Watching it can deepen your understanding and enhance your coaching practice, paving the way for more impactful and fulfilling coaching experiences. How will this new perspective shape your approach to coaching? Share your thoughts and join the conversation.

Smita Raghum
Smita Raghum


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