Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of A Coach in Trouble?

By Jonathan Reitz

September 12, 2014

Every coach gets it when the coaching conversation is going well. Every question builds on the last, and your client makes more progress than you could have imagined!

Coach in Trouble

But what about when it’s not going well? Do you recoginize The 7 Early Warning Signs of A Coach in Trouble?

  • Sign #1: The coach doesn’t notice when they or their client isn’t being real. Coaches in Trouble often have an authenticity problem. Whether there just isn’t enough relational connection or there’s something flat out deceptive going on, the coach has to be able to assess whether their client is being 100% transparent.
  • Sign #2: The client isn’t cutting through the surface stuff and dealing with the causative issues. I think about a slide in an old version of Natural Church Development coach training that talked about the Emotional Toll Booth. Bob Logan used to talk about how you have to pay the emotional price BEFORE you can move on to the root causes. A Coach in Trouble doesn’t want to deal with the emotions that come with deep change.
  • Sign #3: The coach misses opportunities to tailor their language to the client’s language. Coaches in Trouble talk past their clients by sticking to coaching jargon and other verbiage that the client doesn’t understand. Rather than insist the client your lingo, an effective coach tailors their word choice to match the client’s vocabulary.
  • Sign #4: The coach’s brand doesn’t match who they really are. This is CRUCIAL for coaches, because the most effective coaching relationships have to flow out of who you are and how you are. Cultivating an inaccurate professional image is the fastest way to ensure that your coaching relationships are ineffective.
  • Sign #5: The coach doesn’t know their own gifts. A lack of knowledge about your own giftedness lays the foundation for a mismatched professional brand and accelerates trouble for the coach. Let me coach you a bit, here in the blog: What gifts do you have for coaching? How do you communicate those gifts? Maybe a harder question is “What gifts for coaching do you WISH you had?” The language you use must describe your actual gifts and not your ideal gifts so your clients know what they can expect from you.
  • Sign #6: The coach misses opportunities to help the client understand THEIR gifts. A lack of personal clarity travels from person to person. Learning to be aware of your own giftedness makes you aware of the gifts of the people around you. Coaches in Trouble need massive doses of this–STAT!
  • Sign #7: The coach only focuses on results, and ignores growth. Coach skills transfer very easily when you have a focused set of outcomes to achieve. But the International Coach Federation prioritizes coaching to facilitate learning over coaching for results. How can you resist the temptation to just check things off your client’s To Do list and to dig beneath the surface into growth areas?

What other signs have you seen? What advice would you give to coaches to stay on track?


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 This post appeared originally on   For more from Jonathan Reitz, please click here.

Jonathan ReitzJonathan Reitz has a number of impressive titles at CoachNet Global (Chairman/CEO/Guy with Coffee).  Jonathan has been coaching for over 10 years and has worked with over 500 clients in the church, the non-profit sector and the business world. 

  “Coaching plays a part in the kind of leadership the world needs,” says Jonathan Reitz.  “I want to be a part of that.”

For a daily coaching question from Jonathan Reitz, follow him on Twitter @jonathanreitz  Or, you can email him at or by phone at 440.550.4374.

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