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When to Pull Out the Jack Boots?
By Noreen Sumpter
When is it necessary to get tough with a difficult client? What does a coach do with a client who is difficult and isn't doing the work that he or she has created? Well, my first thought is to let those clients go. Yes. Fire them. What's the point of working with clients who will not do the work or take the actions they've created? It's one thing when a client has a fear of doing something and that fear has to be overcome over time. But when is it necessary to get tough with difficult/lazy clients who don't want to do the work and are constantly self-sabotaging and indulging in behavior that moves them further away from their goals?
As a coach, I'm committed to people hiring me to support them as they fulfill on their dreams and desires. I enjoy and consider it an honor to be paid to do what I love. I take my career and job very seriously. I don't have space for clients who are not committed to their word. There has to be a high level of trust between coach and client. There has to be a high level of integrity in order for the coaching relationship to be successful.
As a coach, I believe one has to be willing to put on the Jack Boots from time to time with a client. Some clients really need the Jack Boot approach. Some clients do not. I use the Jack Boots only when necessary. The first time I used the Jack Boot approach with a client, it was very difficult. I was deeply concerned about the client who had been in a space of damaging behavior. I asked my client's permission to get tough with her. It turned out that my client knew that everything that I was going to give her was from a place of my commitment to her, and my love of her and the process.
Some of you might think this coach is getting paid to coach her clients -- not to love them. Well, I will tell you it's hard not to love and care for your clients, I speak to them on a regular basis. I share their successes, failures, shame, hurt and pain. Yes, I am a professional coach. However, first and foremost, I am a human being. My clients know that the space I hold for them at the moment is bigger than the space they can hold for themselves. So, when I take out the Jack Boots, they know it's because I won't settle for anything less for them than winning. Clients are grateful for the tough approach, especially when they achieve the results they are striving for. Yes, clients cry and get afraid. However, they start to learn that it's a part of the process.
Sometimes, talking is not enough. We all know when it's time to produce results. Enough with the wriggling and worming out of life!
Some clients are talented and things in life come very easily for them. Other clients have to dig really deep to get results. I find that the ones for whom things come easy are the ones who need a stern Jack Boot approach.
A coach has to use his or her intuition to know when to get tough with a client. I am an advocate for the Jack Boot approach. However, it is better to use it only in critical situations, and when you and your client have a really great relationship.