What is my role as a coachee?

Leadership coaching and the coachee

Who is this article for?

  • Business executives and leaders embarking on coaching courses
  • Managers and staff being coached for the first time
  • People taking one-to-one coaching or team coaching courses in the workplace

Leadership coaching is simply a conversation aimed at helping you improve your performance as a business leader, and to achieve your personal goals. Depending on your level in the business, the HR Director or your line manager will have coaching conversations with you, as they will be interested in helping you perform to your best. This is not the same as management conversations. Management conversations are more directive and will be about what is expected of you, what resources are available, how success will be measured etc, primarily from a manager’s perspective or in line with corporate objectives.

Coaching conversations are less directive, and are about how you personally will achieve your workplace goals in a way that suits you and draws on your own talents and gifts. This is much more about your perspective. The intention is always to help you maximise your own performance and deliver great results in a way that works for you as far as possible.


The coaching process for the coachee

Coaching at a management level is undertaken usually as a 1:1 conversation with your line manager, both on an ad hoc and on a regular basis, for instance at monthly 1:1 meetings. You might also be in the position of having another person in the organisation acting as your coach as well – someone who is trained in coaching and whom you have selected as your coach outside of the management line. This will typically be the case in executive coaching. In this case, your ‘external’ coach will meet and agree with you and/or your line manager the key aspects of a coaching agreement, including what the coaching should focus on, the intended results, and aspects of confidentiality.

This doesn’t mean that your line manager will stop coaching you, but rather that you will be in the very fortunate position of having two coaches, for free. High performers in every field, be that in business, sports, performing arts or whatever, often have more than two coaches (they know the secret to great performance is in constant improvement) and they have to pay for every one of them!

Expectations from coaching on both sides

Your coach, whether they are your line manager or an ‘external’ coach, should be committed to your success.

  • You can expect your coach to help you to be clear on what you want or need to achieve, in what timeframe, and to help you work out for yourself the best way for you to get there.
  • You can expect them to ask more questions than to give you answers, and to challenge your thinking and ideas to help you refine and clarify these.
  • You can expect them to give you feedback on your behaviours and performance, and help you to learn from your mistakes and correct them so you can constantly improve. This is exactly the same process that world champions go through to get to the top of their professions, and to stay there.

Your coach, of course, will have expectations of you.

  • They will expect you to take coaching seriously, and to embrace the opportunity that coaching presents to perform outstandingly well.
  • Your coach will expect you to be clear about what you want to achieve and to show real commitment and effort to get to where you want to be.
  • They will expect you to keep your word, commit to actions, and be prepared to be open to feedback in order to maximise your learning.
  • Your coach will expect you to be honest and open with them, and they in return will be honest and open with you.

The partnership of coach and coachee working in this highly focused and collaborative way is challenging, fun and extremely rewarding if you are prepared to put in the effort to make it work.

As a coachee, where can you find more information?

You may want to look at these resources for coachees on our website:

Coachee Readiness course

A Guide to One to One Coaching