The start of a coaching/client relationship relies on what we call in the Co-Active Training Model, Designing The Alliance. This is foundational because in Co-Active Coaching, neither the coach nor the client holds the power; the relationship does. Both the coach and the client must show up as their authentic and courageous selves for trust, intimacy, and transformation to occur.
The Power of Designing Alliances in Your Work
As you may know from personal experience, the power isn't given to the relationship on accident; it must be actively and methodically designed and reviewed regularly by those involved. It takes work, patience, and open communication.
But so many of us struggle creating powerful alliances with collaborators, clients, or friends, because we equate communication with confrontation or conflict. It's so much easier to avoid bringing up concerns or asking questions and instead base partnerships with clients, collaborators, and partners on assumptions, one-way stories, and avoidant tendencies. But no more! It's time for some hard conversations. So how do we do this? Here are some steps we can take to build powerful, trusting relationships to withstand this time:
4 Steps to Designing a Healthy Alliance
Understand Your Needs What do you need from this partnership? What are the things you need to be successful in your work? Being clear on what you need and how you want to honor your values to feel most like yourself is essential to designing your alliance with partners, collaborators, and clients
Make A Plan to Design Together Empowering your relationship is rooted in intentional conversation. At the start of every new partnership or new project with a current partner, bring up the topics you need clarified right off the bat to set the tone for future conversations. Conversations in passing, though it can feel easier at the moment, means that things will get lost along the way, requiring multiple, often unclear encounters. Be intentional about working together to empower your relationship.
Express Your Vision & Expectations Though it may feel foreign to overtly express your expectations or your vision , it’s truly important you to build your relationship knowing what your ideal scenario would be while maintaining an openness to adapting to the needs of your client or collaborator. This means you’re actively co-creating with each other, ensuring that this relationship looks like both of you, not just one of you (ahem, most commonly that of the client).
Recalibrate Your Design When Necessary Like anything, designing your alliance will take time. Strong relationships between coach and client are the result of regularly checking in with each other, ensuring that the safe, courageous space is being created for the sake of growth and learning. Ask anyone who’s been in a successful long-term working partnership, whether and they’ll tell you that it’s a process, not an outcome.
Communication does NOT equal confrontation but co-creation. What are you bringing to your next partnership?
If you work alone and want to spend some time focusing on your oft neglected client on-boarding processes, check out our Coworking Strategy Sessions on the first Monday of every month!
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