To continue in my thoughts on the ideal coaching client…..the job description could include items such as a commitment to being on time, notifying well in advance of a cancellation—and agreeing not to cancel unless an emergency. Coaching is serious business and only those intensely devoted to their own personal and professional growth can make the best use of it.

This list covers the key items but one is missing: the ability/willingness of the potential coachee to be totally honest with the coach. Lying to one’s coach is oxymoronic at best and wastes both the client and the coach’s time—and money.

A caveat: some might suggest that this job description is more of a list of what people hope to gain from executive coaching—a list of qualities to strive for—and that is also true. I will accept a new client who will candidly tell me that he/she is not there yet but is 200% committed to getting there and willing to do whatever it takes. What I won’t accept is a client who is in trouble at the work place and about to be let go–been there done that in my 3 decades as CEO. Nor will I accept a client who believes that everyone else needs to change. Also been there—way too many times.

To sum it up, my ideal clients (and I have several) are incredibly successful, savvy executives who passionately want to become better leaders and are totally open to the fact that they cannot do that without a certain amount of pain. That pain includes dramatically increasing their emotional intelligence—starting with self-awareness and vulnerability–the ability to say “I’m wrong” or “I don’t know.”

Bottom line? I want to coach the good leaders who want to become excellent leaders. [In the nonprofit world, this would probably be called “creaming”—taking only the clients who have strong potential to be successful so that the program evaluation will report stunning success. There’s no question that those lower down on the ladder need help more and there are only resources to reach the most needy. But I’ve always felt that there should be services available for those close to the top who are motivated to be the best. In coaching that is possible and it’s also where my skills and talents are best utilized.

As clients, I want those near the top of Maslow’s pyramid of needs. I want to coach those who have tasted the sweet juices of self-actualization and are thirsty for more. They want the right person to help them set and reach new goals.  I have a full pitcher and am ready to pour.

Now I think I will ask my current clients to describe their ideal coach—and see what I need to do to measure up.