By Maria Iliffe-Wood
What is Coaching Presence

What is Coaching Presence

I’m sure you’ve heard people say that the most important element in a coaching relationship is the presence of the coach. How the coach is present in the relationship determines the success of the relationship, or is the biggest factor in the success of the relationship. But what is ‘Presence’ and why is it so important?

Presence in the relationship is ‘Being’ in a certain kind of way. We are all human beings, but we often forget about the ‘Being’ in our busy and chaotic lives spent ‘Doing’ all the time. When we remember to Be rather than Do, our state changes completely. When we ‘Be’ we become calmer, more relaxed, and if we’re lucky we connect with that inner stillness that lies deep within each and every one of us. In that inner stillness lies true wisdom – what I refer to in my book as the Invisible Coach. In that inner stillness we are completely alive and alert to the present moment whilst connected to our deepest wisdom. This is the presence that I believe is being referred to when we talk about Coaching Presence.

When we are connected to that inner stillness and wisdom, we know exactly what is needed in the moment, whether we are coaching, leading a team, working as part of a team or just relating to another human being. In that space we let go of our personal thinking, we let go of blame, judgement, criticism, anger, frustration etc. This space within us is full of kindness, compassion and deep calm. And from this space we provide whatever is needed for our client. Our Invisible Coach provides the wisdom to understand what intervention is needed in this moment.

Galileo said “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself”. Clients need to find the answers within themselves, even if you provide them with an answer they will only take it on board if it fits with their own thinking. They will find their best answers when they are connected with their Invisible Coach.

So our job as coach is to help our clients to access their Invisible Coach. To signpost them to that place within them that is calm and still and is the seat of their wisdom. You cannot signpost them to that place if you are not in it yourself. You show them how to find that space by residing in that space within yourself. When you are in this space, you naturally communicate with their Invisible Coach, through your ‘Being’. Have you ever noticed that if you stay calm and relaxed when your client arrives in an agitated state, they soon start to calm down and relax? This is them starting to remember that they have this calm and relaxed state within them. You didn’t need to tell them to go there, they just followed your lead.

This is why our presence as a coach (or as a leader) is so important. Our presence influences our client’s (or our team member’s) presence. The client follows our lead – albeit unconsciously. If we are ‘Being’ totally present in the relationship, connected to our inner stillness and wisdom, connected to our Invisible Coach – then the client moves into their inner stillness and wisdom. They start tapping into their own Invisible Coach and then the real magic starts to happen.

If you are a coach, or use coaching in your work and would like to find the presence within yourself that will transform your coaching relationships, then you may be interested in a 2 day Coaching Presence workshop.


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Maria Iliffe-Wood

Accredited Coaching Supervisor

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