Many of us who work in the wellness industry might find ourselves a champion, cheerleader, adviser, teacher and, at times, a trainer. But the term that best represents our role in the lives of our customers, when done right, is that of a coach.
Notice that I qualify, when done right. As the title of this article suggests, there is an art and a science to coaching. Throughout my career in the military and in medicine, I’ve observed and studied various styles of coaching. Stemming from that research, I arrived at the conclusion that there are inherent traits with successful coaches – those who are able to affect positive behavioral changes in those they are coaching.
The traits and techniques which I address here are qualities that can be taught. In fact, we are creating a program to instruct distributors in some fundamental concepts, to help them understand and use Herbalife Nutrition materials to coach their clients. The training looks to leverage these techniques and evidence-based learning to help develop more effective coaches.
The fact is, these and other behaviors associated with coaching are not new, and they are not exclusive to the wellness industry. However, because of the very personal and powerful nature of one’s health and well-being, coaching in this industry can be more impactful.
Defining a Coach
To better understand the art and science of coaching, we have to agree on the definition of a coach. A coach is someone who assists their customers in realizing results in a transformative way.
Coaching for lifestyle behavior change continues to emerge as a practice and profession, in diverse health care, employee wellness, and community settings. Coaches are practitioners who help people make behavioral changes to achieve wellness goals.
The three key characteristics to becoming a great wellness coach include
- Building a relationship that is empowering and not controlling. The focus of the coach is not problem solving, directing, planning or goal setting. It is empowerment.
- Ability to fundamentally shift your mindset. The new mindset is oriented toward growth and being focused on choice. To be focused on choice is to recognize that we have the ability and responsibility to take ownership of our actions.
- The ability to be honest. An honest reflection of ourselves so that we can serve as a compassionate and trusted source of truth for those we work with in a coaching relationship. Honesty leads to an accountability that is both trusted and welcomed.
Coaching Core Principles
To be an effective coach, we must learn how to quickly come alongside an individual to establish a deeper connection, effectively influence their behavior, instill confidence, and establish patterns that lead to habit formation.
Each coach should be asking themselves, does my client feel connected to me, influenced to change some aspect of their life for the better, confident in their ability to make that change, and will they set in action new habits that will lead to sustainable better life for themselves?
The good news is that these core principles can be operationalized into specific skills and techniques that are based on science that a coach can use to empower their clients. Skills like effort based praise, appreciative inquiry, enhancing self-efficacy, recognizing cues, creating implementation intention to name just a few!
Why Is this Important
In the United States we spend over $3.2 Trillion dollars on healthcare and 18% of the GDP1. Globally we are seeing an escalation in the costs of healthcare. Yet, we understand that a significant percentage of healthcare costs may be avoided and lives enriched by behaviors that support a healthier and happier life. The best product to improve health will have no impact if not acted upon and that action is at the core of coaching. So, if we can train better coaches and provide them resources like nutritious products for their customers, there is no reason people can’t achieve their goals to live healthier and happier lives.
Imagine if we could seed every community with coaches who supported individuals as empowered change agents for themselves and those in their community. The results could change the whole trajectory of our spiraling healthcare costs. Now that is a future worth working towards!