Coaching Tools 101 - OK, So What ARE Coaching Tools Anyway?

I don't know why I haven't answered this question earlier, but now is as good a time as any! I absolutely love coaching tools and believe that they are an essential supplement to the coaching relationship. Whether used in session, in workshops or as homework they provide extra opportunities to inform our clients and raise their awareness. They help our clients create time for reflection, solidify their learnings and move forwards, faster.

So, what IS a Coaching Tool or Exercise? Well, for me a coaching tool or exercise is ANYTHING we use to raise our client's awareness or move them forwards. This could be by enhancing their understanding of themselves or by helping them make changes, decisions or take action in their lives.

Coaching tools can raise awareness in many ways; by asking a series of questions, getting our clients to draw things or by offering a reframe or new metaphor. We can also raise awareness by giving our clients useful and relevant information eg. time management tips or a new process or model like to help with conflict or writing a resume. NB. In the case of information transfer there must be a further step which asks, "What does this mean for me?" or "What am I going to do with this new information?", otherwise for me it's not a coaching tool, it's training.

So, a coaching tool facilitates learning and change - it asks powerful questions or gives the client a reframe, a metaphor or some information - and it then solidifies the learning by specifically asking, "What have I learned?" or "Now what?"

For me, coaching tools also need to be enjoyable. After all coaching, when fully embraced, can be hard work! So by making coaching exercises lighthearted and fun, we make the whole coaching process lighter and easier for our clients too. After all, we all know that when we're having fun we learn more and that the learning stays with us longer.

And while you pick and choose tools according to your client's needs, they should be reusable with other clients - the best coaching tools and exercises deal with universal issues. Examples could include prioritising our time, setting meaningful goals, exploring what's important to us, taking better care of our 'selves' or getting unstuck and taking action

So, what does a coaching tool look like? Well, a coaching tool can be as simple as sending a client away from a session with a powerful question, which they can ponder, meditate or journal around. And a coaching tool could also be a several session process with multiple steps with instructions over email - like establishing a client's values and priorities. The coaching tools I have created are short, simple documents with plenty of colour and graphics to make the forms look fun to complete - they look appealing - but still pack a punch in the self-discovery process.

"The Wheel of Life" (available in our Free Coaching Tools) is probably the best known coaching exercise - and it's amazingly flexible. Did you know that although it's mostly used to help people see how balanced their life is, it can be adapted for many other purposes too? More about that here in our article with 12 Awesome Ways to Use the Wheel of Life!

Other great examples of coaching tools include the "Personal SWOT" Coaching Tool (to review our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), "The Urgent/Important Matrix" Coaching Exercise to make more effective use of our time or our free gift with newsletter sign-up - "Troll Travels" where clients use the 'device' of a troll to decide which of their qualities they value the most (and it's rarely what they expect!). Check out our Coaching Tools Catalogue for more examples.

But whatever coaching tools and exercises you use in your practice, they are not a substitute for coaching and the coaching relationship. Once the client has completed a tool, they bring the results back to you, their coach, and this is where you add your coaching magic! You ask questions, challenge them, delve deeper - and this helps create more  "Aha!" moments which spur our clients on!

The Purpose of Coaching Tools? To enhance the experience for your client and help YOU help your client get the results they want - with more fun, faster!

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