Coaching Tools – What, How and When to Use Them

As far as we are familiar, Coaching, exists since the Ancient Greece. This becomes evident in the Socratic Dialogue thanks to Plato and Xenophon, who have recorded it. They show us that Socrates was the first known Coach. The questioning style that he has developed aimed to explore self-awareness. Self-awareness, which led the questioned persons to discover the truth about themselves, their wishes, desires and purpose.

And precisely finding the truth about oneself is the core of Coaching. Without it, the whole process will not bring us close to the desired transformation or result.

After Socrates, Coaching was evolving through the centuries, but a real popularity and understanding it gained only during the last 10 years. Its growth in popularity is proportional to the speed of technological development. The advancement in technology challenges individuals and businesses to keep up with the speed of change and turbulent environment. At the same time, Traditional Education is getting outdated and cannot keep up with that speed. This means that people in general are equipped with limited approaches to deal with the new reality. These resulted in the growing popularity of Coaching as a strategic choice for empowerment, change management and transformation.

The quickening pace of life and technology requires Coaches to also rapidly develop their skills. The good Coach-Client relationship depends upon the ability of the Coach to creatively deal with a variety of situations. And the Coaching tools are a vital part of the process.

What exactly are Coaching tools? Basically, Coaching tools or exercises are ANYTHING that the Coach can use in their practice. Anything, aiming at raising the Clients’ awareness and moving them forward towards the desired outcome. The purpose of the Coaching tools is to help the Clients explore the challenge they face – either as homework in their own time, in a session with the Coach or in a webinar. Further, a Coaching tool or exercise facilitates the Clients in creating essential time; safe space for reflection; it strengthens their learnings; and it helps them move forward faster. It all happens because the Coaching tools have the power to enhance the Clients’ understanding of themselves, to help them make changes, take decisions and action in their lives. It all can also be achieved through traditional Coaching. Still, the greatest advantages of the Coaching tools are their vast variety and ability to speed up significantly the process of achieving results.

The Coaching tools are similar to the Coaching methodologies in nature – they all are designed to provide guidance to the Coach within a certain frame of work. The great part is the freedom of use within the frame.

Good knowledge of a Coaching tool, allows the Coach to alter it and use it in different situations and with different purposes. The bigger the palette of Coaching tools and exercises the Coach uses, the greater the power possessed by the Coach to help Clients, when they get stuck.

What does a Coaching tool look like? It can be as simple as closing a Coaching session with a powerful question, which the Client can think of, meditate or write about in a journal. A Coaching tool can also be a sequence of Coaching sessions with instructions over email. Coaching tools are any business tools and exercises adapted for Coaching purposes such as: SWOT analysis, SMART goal setting, the ‘Urgent/Important’ matrix, ‘Spheres of Influence’, Action plans and many more. Of course, there are also tools and exercises devoted to Coaching such as: The wheel of Life’, ‘Value Elicitation’ exercise, ‘Building selfesteem’ exercise, ‘Listening models’, ‘Limiting beliefs’ exercise and hundreds more that are available in books or online.

When familiar with the specifics of each exercise, the Coach can adapt its use to many divergent occasions. A great example of the variety of purposes to be used for is the ‘Wheel of life’. It is probably the best-known Coaching exercise – and it’s amazingly flexible. Apart of its original purpose of helping people see how balanced their life is, it can be adapted for many other purposes. For example, it can be used to assess and understand a Client’s area of stress or frustration – becoming a ‘Wheel of Frustration’. It can help in getting a deeper understanding of the Client’s priorities – becoming a ‘Wheel of prioritising’. In addition, it can facilitate in the assessment of a person’s skills and knowledge gap – becoming a ‘Wheel of Knowledge/Skills’.

A ‘Wheel of Life’ exercise can be even adopted for measuring a team’s progress. Imagine that on a weekly meeting each part of the divided ‘Wheel of Life’ represents a specific team-member. Each team-member can give a score that represents the weekly progress made. In this manner – a bottleneck can be identified early in the work process and the person in need can be helped on time. Last, but not least, a consequent use of a couple of ‘Wheel of Life’ can be useful in the process of decision making. For example, imagine a Coach needs to facilitate a Client in deciding on a new job.

What the Coach can do first on a blank ‘Wheel of Life’ is to elicit and rate the most important values of the Client. The values that the Client considers a must have in a job. Then a separate ‘Wheel of Life’ can be used for the Client to rate the current job on the elicited values. A third ‘Wheel of Life’ will serve to measure the new job on the same elicited values. This particular use of the ‘Wheel of Life’ has the advantage of visually and metrically simplifying a complicated on first midstance choice. These are just a few uses of the ‘Wheel of Life’ – it can be adapted to many situations. The same goes for almost any possible Coaching tool or exercise.

The larger the toolkit of a Coach, the better equipped the Coach is for a whole variety of situations. Surely, no one can be prepared for all possible situations or remember all available tools. The power is to know that Coaching tools and exercises do exist, to understand their purpose and to be familiar with the places they can be found when needed. The Coaching profession does not require the Coach to come up with answers or with directions, but it is great to able to say to the Client ‘I think I know a process that may be helpful.’

How to choose your Coaching tools? There is no receipt for choosing the right tools – it is a matter of trial and learning. The best way to go on about is for each Coach to choose a toolkit that resonates with the Coaching style and niche of the Coach. While doing that, there are two important things to bear in mind:

  1. The Coaching tool needs to be simple – if it is too complicated, the Client may lose motivation or interpret it incorrectly. When it is simple and can be completed within a reasonable period of time, it will also boost the Clients confidence and make them feel good.
  2. The tool has to be enjoyable – when Coaching is fully embraced by the Client, it can become a hard work that requires concentration and processing. When the tool provided by the Coach is enjoyable it can make the whole process lighter and nicer.

In conclusion, through the Coaching tools and exercises the Clients are given a safe space to explore and develop their own insights about themselves. Their core purpose is to enhance the experience of the Client to get faster the results they want, while enjoying the process. In order
to be an excellent Coach, who is prepared and equipped for a variety of situations, each Coach can develop a Coaching toolkit. The toolkit is dependent on the Coach’s personal preferences, the niche the Coach serves and the goals that will be pursued. The more tools the Coach is familiar
with, the better they can help a Client get unstuck.

Whatever Coaching tools and exercises a Coach may use in the practice, they are NOT a substitute for Coaching and the Coach-Client relationship. Once the Clients have completed a tool or exercise, they will bring the results back to the Coach. And the Coach’s responsibility is to coach them further, challenge them and help them build even greater awareness and understanding. All is done in order to create more ‘Aha’ moments for the Client in the Coach-Client relationship.


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