Seven Steps To Helping Clients Better Define Their Goals

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Expert Panel, Forbes Coaches Council

Top business and career coaches from Forbes Coaches Council offer firsthand insights on leadership

Forbes Coaches Council for some actionable steps coaches can take to help new clients better define their goals. Here is their advice for creating the right framework to map out both the goals themselves and a plan to get there.

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Analyze Their Preconceived Theories

Examine the theories your client may have about what they should be doing. Where do they come from? Are they valid? Are they aligned with your values and dreams? We all walk around with a lot of conscious and unconscious theories about who we are, how the world works, what we should be and what we should do. Have your client interrogate those theories and write new ones that will govern their next chapter. - Joanne Heyman, Heyman Partners

2. Take Charge

I have logged thousands of hours in airplanes, but never once have I told the pilots how to fly the plane. New clients come to us with specific needs, but sometimes they also want to dictate how the work is to be done. However, it's our methods, thoughts, experiences and expertise they seek. To get that, they have to do things our way. - Brian Burkhart, SquarePlanet Presentations & Strategy

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

3. Ask The Right Questions

It is as simple as asking them what they want to achieve through a highly interactive and Socratic dialogue. Short of general direction, most people and organizations don’t take the time to plan their future and need help to carefully think through the best pathway forward. - David Liddell, Liddell Consulting Group LLC

4. Align Their Business And Personal Core Values

The first thing that I complete with all new clients is a core value exercise for personal and professional life, from three different lenses of the mind, body and heart. Often times, we focus solely on the core values of our business or the companies we work for, but forget about the other half of our life—our personal reality. When clients get centered in both personal and professional core values, there is clarity for how to live and work. When the mind, body and heart are in alignment with core values, then the strategy, decisions and actions become crystal clear. - Gwen Dittmar, Gwen Dittmar Consulting Inc.

5. Set Small Goals Every Day

Successful people have learned to master the art of planning and the skills of scheduling. By having your clients methodically set 10 to 20 minutes of their evening to plan for the day head, they will experience the vibrant feeling of being the master of their own game. - Patrick Bensen, PB Consulting Ltd

6. Keep Following Up

The first step is to define five things: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence and authenticity. After you define these things, it is important to do a follow-up every day, every week and every month to ensure the client is going in the direction of these goals. - Márcio Silva, Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Brazil

Read more in How To Make Effective Decisions To Achieve Your Goals

7. Focus On The Planning Aspect

Especially for doers, investing resources in planning feels indulgent. But those who accomplish the most, with the most intention, recognize planning is doing: It's the first step of the most impactful action. Schedule four consecutive hours of time to dream, plan action steps and allocate resources. Make the plan actionable by comparing the resources they have available with what their dream goals need. Reconcile any discrepancies by shifting their priorities or allocations. - Dodie Jacobi, Dodiodo

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As a coach, you must first understand your clients' intentions and desires in order to best serve them. If they’re unsure what they wish to achieve, you won’t have a clear goal to guide them toward. So before you start establishing good habits and routines, you need to help them discover what it is that they truly want or need.

To find out which approaches work well, we asked members of Forbes Coaches Council for some actionable steps coaches can take to help new clients better define their goals. Here is their advice for creating the right framework to map out both the goals themselves and a plan to get there.

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Analyze Their Preconceived Theories

Examine the theories your client may have about what they should be doing. Where do they come from? Are they valid? Are they aligned with your values and dreams? We all walk around with a lot of conscious and unconscious theories about who we are, how the world works, what we should be and what we should do. Have your client interrogate those theories and write new ones that will govern their next chapter. - Joanne Heyman, Heyman Partners

2. Take Charge

I have logged thousands of hours in airplanes, but never once have I told the pilots how to fly the plane. New clients come to us with specific needs, but sometimes they also want to dictate how the work is to be done. However, it's our methods, thoughts, experiences and expertise they seek. To get that, they have to do things our way. - Brian Burkhart, SquarePlanet Presentations & Strategy

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

3. Ask The Right Questions

It is as simple as asking them what they want to achieve through a highly interactive and Socratic dialogue. Short of general direction, most people and organizations don’t take the time to plan their future and need help to carefully think through the best pathway forward. - David Liddell, Liddell Consulting Group LLC

4. Align Their Business And Personal Core Values

The first thing that I complete with all new clients is a core value exercise for personal and professional life, from three different lenses of the mind, body and heart. Often times, we focus solely on the core values of our business or the companies we work for, but forget about the other half of our life—our personal reality. When clients get centered in both personal and professional core values, there is clarity for how to live and work. When the mind, body and heart are in alignment with core values, then the strategy, decisions and actions become crystal clear. - Gwen Dittmar, Gwen Dittmar Consulting Inc.

5. Set Small Goals Every Day

Successful people have learned to master the art of planning and the skills of scheduling. By having your clients methodically set 10 to 20 minutes of their evening to plan for the day head, they will experience the vibrant feeling of being the master of their own game. - Patrick Bensen, PB Consulting Ltd

6. Keep Following Up

The first step is to define five things: motivation, knowledge, ability, confidence and authenticity. After you define these things, it is important to do a follow-up every day, every week and every month to ensure the client is going in the direction of these goals. - Márcio Silva, Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Brazil

Read more in How To Make Effective Decisions To Achieve Your Goals

7. Focus On The Planning Aspect

Especially for doers, investing resources in planning feels indulgent. But those who accomplish the most, with the most intention, recognize planning is doing: It's the first step of the most impactful action. Schedule four consecutive hours of time to dream, plan action steps and allocate resources. Make the plan actionable by comparing the resources they have available with what their dream goals need. Reconcile any discrepancies by shifting their priorities or allocations. - Dodie Jacobi, Dodiodo

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Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization comprised of leading business coaches and career coaches. Find out if you qualify at forbescoachesc...