Coaching: Three agendas for exploration
This is part of a series of articles derived from my coaching certification assessment.
There are numerous coaching models used in certification programs: this particular one focuses on three agendas; presenting, deeper, and transformational.
Here’s a brief breakdown of each of those three agendas, along with an example from a client session.
The presenting agenda appears at the beginning of a coaching session. As a coach, we ask what our clients want coaching on for the session. Doing this allows them to consider, reflect on and speak about what they want. It puts the onus on the client to make the choice, rather than us as the coach choosing for them or projecting our own thoughts or opinions.
The presenting agenda offered by the client may include a goal for the session, or the coach may need to ask one or two clarifying questions to support the client in defining the goal for the session.
The presenting agenda is often hiding something far deeper or transformational underneath. Often the presenting agenda will be about something the client wants to do, rather than who they want to be.
The deeper agenda is hidden underneath the presenting agenda. It’s more likely to reflect who the client wants to be as well as what they want to do – the being as well as the doing. As the deeper agenda emerges, the client is likely to become more self-aware and able to tap into their emotions, intuition, and imagination, although they may not be fully aware of this happening to begin with.
The deeper agenda may also offer the coach some clues towards a transformational agenda, and also what’s beginning to emerge in the client and what else may be possible for them.
Another dimension of the client’s agenda is the transformational agenda. By the coach using transformational listening, the transformational agenda can begin to emerge.
The transformational agenda tends to reveal a core need of the client. The transformational agenda may not just relate to the presenting and deeper agendas, but to something far more vital that applies to other aspects of the client’s life. The transformational agenda allows new opportunities and insights to emerge for the client.
As a coach, we may point out the transformational agenda to the client, or quietly observe it during the session. To help notice and surface the transformational agenda, it can help for us to be in the moment and use our intuition as a coach, ahead of logic or rational thinking. Sometimes we can get also clues as to a client’s transformational agenda within their discovery session or first coaching session.
An example in practice
[Presenting] I asked my client MR what he wanted coaching on. He said he felt under time pressure with work projects and wanted to get better at time management. I asked him where he would like to get out of the session and he said he wanted to have more clarity on what he was currently spending his time on.
[Deeper] I asked MR what was most important to him about time management. He said it enabled him to focus on the work he needed to do, and also the work he wanted to do. I then asked what having better time management would do for him, and responded by saying he would be able to complete the work he needed to do more efficiently, and also have space to really invest himself into the work he wanted to do – work that he didn’t feel he had given much attention to recently.
[Transformational] I asked MR what was driving that desire to invest himself into the work he really wanted to do. He said it came from a place of wanting to make real change in the world, particularly supporting entrepreneurs who are building impactful businesses. I asked him what was really mattered to him about being able to make real change, and he responded by telling me about how he had seen so much wastefulness in his previous career and that it made him deeply upset.
He realized that there were so many who didn’t care, and those who did care needed more support to get their message out into the world. I observed I could sense his body language shift as he was talking, which he acknowledged and said he could feel heat within himself.
I then asked who he becomes when he does this work, and he told me he becomes an agent of change, using a lever to help others do even more than they thought possible.
We then spent some time with this imagery – the agent of change with quiet strength, bringing others up onto a big green springboard!