The ClientWise Blog

Are You Guilty of Ambush Coaching?

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Dec 27, 2013, 8:30:00 AM

So what’s the likelihood that during this holiday season you might find yourself with a close friend or family member seeking some advice or guidance or who is simply sharing a specific situation related to their job or family? During the holidays, the opportunities to “weigh in” on the lives of those close to us could present serious problems if we aren’t careful.  At ClientWise, we call this, “ambush coaching!” 

Today, there seems to be some notion that everyone is a coach.  “I’m a coach, you’re a coach, wouldn’t you like to be a coach, too!”  It sure seems easy to fall into the trap of “coaching” others, whether they are looking for coaching, or not. In the case of coaching for financial advisors (and yes, even friends and family members) you can incur harmful consequences even with the best of intentions by:

  • Negatively affecting the relationship between the self-appointed “coach” and the person on the other end

  • Giving the perception that you’re offering advice, which, importantly, is very different from “coaching”

  • Further confusing the issue of coaching, which is already commonly misunderstood in the financial services industry

  • Turning the receiver off from executive coaching completely

  • Giving the appearance that the person “coaching” is trying to manipulate the relationship or situation

For these well-intentioned ambushers, I suggest revising your approach.  How do you know when someone wants to be coached on an issue, a challenge, or an opportunity? First you have to ask. Never assume that someone confiding in you about something is the same as a request for your input, so first clarify your role by asking:

  • Are you telling me this simply because you need someone to listen?

  • Are you looking for my opinion or advice as to what I would do in your situation?

  • Alternatively, do you want to engage in a larger conversation and together determine your best course of action? 

If they indicate the third option then they do, in fact, want to be coached but the discovery on your end doesn’t stop there.  At ClientWise we implement a very specific process to determine next steps and objectives through the ClientWise Coaching Agreement™.

When entered into appropriately, the coaching relationship has proven successful for ClientWise clients because it takes on the form of a partnership in which the person being coached makes his or her goals clear and has equal if not greater say in how those goals are achieved. The ClientWise Coaching Agreement™ takes into account the standards of coaching defined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the most globally recognized of all coaching accreditation services, and the most stringent with regard to ensuring that the coachees needs are met.

In establishing this process we’ve discovered that the skills honed as a coach are also appropriate tools for financial professionals, such as bank managers, relationship managers, or practice management specialists, who guide advisors and other financial professionals on a regular basis. As a result, we’ve created ClientWise Coaching Skills Course for Financial Advisors™, which is the only finance-specific coaching skills-based course approved by the ICF. Over this 60-hour course, ICF credentialed coaches focuses on the aspects of coaching that differentiate it from mentoring, consulting, advising—even ambushing—the very distinctions that often inspire far better results for financial professionals. 

While geared toward professionals in manager and leadership positions, the course is also designed to help financial advisors improve their relationships with clients and centers of influence. The lesson at its core is the ability to move from the role of an advisor to that of a partner, which is extremely beneficial in all business conversations. Partnering with someone creates a sense of trust and personal legitimacy that generates much greater success than ambushing, and longer lasting results than advising or consulting alone. Stop ambushing and start coaching! Contact Trey Schalk, our Director of Business Development to learn more about ClientWise Coaching Skills for Financial Professionals™ and put them into practice in your business life and personal life. You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your communication.


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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Coaching, ClientWise