In his 2010 book, Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni writes about an approach to engaging with one’s clients. He talks about the humility, selflessness and transparency needed to become a trusted advisor to those who hire us. Lencioni posits, and I concur, that “most of us live our lives trying to avoid awkward and painful situations… (leaving us) susceptible to the three fears that sabotage client loyalty”:
• Fear of losing the business
• Fear of being embarrassed
• Fear of feeling inferior
As a business coach my role is to become my client’s trusted confidant. If what Lencioni says about consultants is true, it is doubly true for effective coaches. If I’m listening to a client and a question comes to mind do I ask it without concern about how it may impact my “image” or do I first concern myself with how I might be perceived (impression management)?
Much has been written about personal branding – and this blog, our tweets and our Facebook page indicate that we pay attention to our company’s brand. But what, if any, place in a coaching or consulting practice is impression management a valid concern?
For Wellesley Partners coaches, being effective has one overriding rule: being present, in the moment – being authentic. We connect to our clients – emotionally, not just intellectually. We understand the world through their eyes – feel their joy and feel their discomfort – in order to help them understand and grow through their unique experience.
Only through the outreach of caring (love) can we as coaches properly execute the role we are hired to play. Caring is demonstrated when we have the courage to confront our clients with their blind spots rather than being overly concerned with pleasing them. If there are only two emotions: love and fear, we must become adept at shedding our fears and find the courage to give voice to the questions that will draw our clients closer to the world that they seek. When we demonstrate our trust in our clients by “getting naked”, we invite them to trust us in return.