Monday, April 1, 2013

Inside the Session: Intuition vs. Coaching?

Posted on Monday, April 01, 2013 by International Coach Federation

The Issue:
I feel that my job as a coach is to expand, inspire, encourage, champion, and challenge my clients to new levels. So, what do you do when your “intuition” tells you one thing and the “coach” tells you another?

The Background:
I have a client, who over the past two years, has been working as a Team Leader.  The next logical step for their career path is a Team Manager.  Unfortunately, the company will phase out their particular project over the next few months and have suggested that my client consider an ex-pat position in the Caribbean.

The Options:
This three-year ex-pat position would come with the possibility for Team Leader within 12-18 months but no prospects of being a Team Manager. 

The Challenge:
Together, we explored my client’s “major life” goals for the next 3-5 years. The following goals have been identified (amongst others):

  1. To Start a Family with Partner
  2. Have/Adopt Children within the next 1-3 years
  3. To Become a Manager in 2013 or latest 2014
  4. Take an Ex-Pat Position
The Mental State of Affairs:
It became clear, halfway through our first discussion, that my client was adamant that this ex-pat position would be a perfect fit for them.  While the red flags were raised in my gut, the coach inside was immediately perplexed.  I thought: it could delay all of your afore-mentioned goals by at least three years, possibly even including the Manager position.  What gives?

My client admitted to being scared about losing the income altogether.  I asked if they had more than a years’ worth in savings (my client does).  I reminded my client that they are in a better position than most.

I then reminded my client that it might be interesting to respond to the two to three weekly requests they receive from recruiters.  My client did not feel reassured and physically grew uncomfortable and indignant.

Shortly thereafter, I discover my client also maintains some confidence and self-worth issues wrapped up in this whole situation—more specifically, my client doesn’t feel worthy of a Manager position. 

My Intuition:
My intuition immediately saw my client as settling for this position because it was comfortable.  My intuition urged me to invite my client to consider all other options prior to making a final decision.  I felt (and still feel) this could be a mistake for my client’s future and family life based upon their goals, objectives, and volunteering endeavors.

My Coaching:
The coach inside me viewed this situation as more of a hiccup and I wanted to challenge my client to be daring, take a leap of faith, and explore any and all options.  In probing more, my client divulged that there is a good chance they would have the opportunity to learn other functions integral to being a Team Manager down the line.

Several times, I checked-in to ensure I was pushing THEIR agenda as opposed to my own.  The response was always, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”

The Homework:
I invited my client to contact two recruiters AND be open to any and all positions that may present themselves.  My client was very resistant.  I then explained my reservations as their coach: 1) To challenge them beyond their comfort zone; and 2) To remind them that other goals might be delayed and/or compromised.  I felt that this task would not only challenge my client to think outside the box, but it would also allow the opportunity to explore some self-worth and confidence hesitations AND it would assuage both my coaching and gut instincts.  Win-win!

The Resolution:
Though my client is showing more confidence, they are still leaning toward the ex-pat role.  However, my client admittedly understood and appreciated my encouragement and support to remain open to all other options.  In the coming week, my client will most likely accept the verbal offer for this position.  Within that conversation, I have invited my client (“Homework”) to be clear and express their goals (personal and professional) over the next three to five years to their new manager to ensure they are both on the same page.  Who knows what will happen?

Intuition vs. Coaching:
So, what do you do when your “Intuition” tells you one thing and the “Coach” another?
Quell both sides.  Remind yourself of the delicate yet playful balance between the feeling (intuition) and the experience (coaching).  Listen to your intuition.  Just because you listen to your intuition does not necessarily mean you need to follow it.  Instead, allow the information to better enlighten your assessment thereby supporting your client as their coach.

My Intuition still feels that this could be a mistake.  The coach inside tells me that it would be my client’s choice, from which to grow and learn.  As a coach, I will stand for my client as much as possible.  As an intuitive being, I will gently offer and explore all alternatives.

It’s only the third session, we have time.  Stay tuned for the update.  I’m sure it will be fascinating!

By Seth Santoro. A first time self-help author, coach, blogger, public speaker, aspiring TV host, and producer, Seth’s vision is to Inspire the World, One by One, to Smile From The Inside.  He has a great deal to say, the basis of which is Know who you are, Embrace who you are and Be who you are - no matter what the circumstance or what your past – and you can heal from anything.  Seth’s first book in a trilogy series is “How I Learned To Smile From The Inside,” available now on Amazon. Learn more about Seth,


  1. Thank you for sharing. I wonder how your coach is relating to possibility and fear. How do they influence your clients decision?

  2. Excellent post. Sounds like you are an exceptional coach. I like to think that I'm a good one too! I currently am running courses that teach public speaking in Boston. For some people it may take longer than for others, but with proper training anyone can succeed.

    - Jaclyn


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