Originally published on Forbes.com on December 12, 2017.

Individuals of all stripes often turn to professional coaches to help them assess a complex or risky endeavor, navigate a career crisis, or simply live a more fulfilled life. As a coach, your role falls somewhere between a therapist and a teacher: You must know how to listen carefully to your clients’ problems, as well as impart your wisdom to help them succeed.

However, more important than knowing how to listen and advise a coaching client is knowing how to strike the right balance between the two, and what to keep in mind as you’re engaged in each activity. Fourteen members of Forbes Coaches Council shared some insights into their own practices as a successful coach.

1. Guide Your Client Toward The Answer With Intentional Listening

As certified professional coaches, we are most mindful of choosing to listen intentionally. This enables me to commit my mind and thoughts to hearing the client’s needs, rather than listening to offer advice or respond. Coaching has proven to be about active listening and guiding clients towards identifying the best approaches or solutions to their issues. – Arlene DonovanTurning Point Coaching LLC

2. Listen First, Offer Advice Later

In order to properly advise someone, you must have a clear understanding of their goals and desires. The only way to sufficiently grasp that information is by listening diligently and asking provoking questions that will allow your client to gain your trust. I believe the best advice comes from people who are empathetic and don’t impose information without making sure it’s valuable first. – Ariel Lopez2020Shift

3. Don’t Offer Direct Advice

Coaches primarily listen, ask empowering questions and help clients stay accountable to their action plans. When a coach believes they can offer options or ideas that can help the client reach their goals, the coach asks permission to explore ideas and does not tell the client what to do. If the client is looking for direct advice or training, they should find a consultant or teacher instead. – Andrea MacKenzieLead With Harmony

4. Ask First, Tell Second

When I coach clients on how they can coach, I share my “Ask First, Tell Second” motto. First I ask a powerful question that helps the client explore new perspectives and solutions. I listen intently and get curious to learn more. As I sum up what I heard, I add advice (or suggested tools, resources, articles, etc.) where I feel like I have something of value to offer that they did not come up with already. – Bonnie DavisDestination Up

5. Drop The Ego

Listening is the first skill we teach the leaders we work with. Though we’ve all done it our whole lives, almost everyone struggles with this fundamental. Just because giving advice feels helpful, doesn’t mean it is. Deep listening allows a client to discover something new for themselves. Drop the ego. As a coach, your job isn’t to be the expert, it’s to guide someone to discover their own wisdom. – David Butlein, Ph.D., BLUECASE Strategic Partners

6. Start By Asking What They Would Like To Discuss

In order to make sure that I’m listening to what my clients actually want and need in a session, we start by celebrating their milestones for the week. Then, I always ask them, “How can I serve you today? What would you like to cover?” That way, I’m prioritizing their needs and can offer them the best help possible by asking deeper questions to get to the root of things and offer advice. – Erika Ashley CoutoIt’s Erika Ashley, Inc.

7. Get Permission Before Giving Advice

When listening to a client, I’m not only listening to what’s being said but also what’s not being said (i.e. underlying beliefs/assumptions). My role is to ask the questions that will help the client determine if these beliefs/assumptions are accurate and how they may impact experiences. When it comes to giving advice, I like to get permission first to make sure the client is open to receiving it. – Gina GomezGina Gomez, Business & Life Coach

8. Stay Emotionally Responsive

Emotional connection is one of the key components of being a good listener and adviser. The most important goal for me is to reconnect people so that they can solve their problems on their own. Staying emotionally responsive helps me to regulate their emotion, make them feel understood, heard and validated, which answers the key bonding question, “Are you there for me?” with a resounding yes. – Lola Gershfeld, Psy.D., Level Five Executive, Inc.

9. Determine The Type Of Relationship You Have With Your Client

Some coaching clients want tough love, others want a gentle push. This is all determined at the beginning of your relationship. Either way, I am careful to make sure if I am offering advice, that I preface it with the “for me” statement. This makes it clear how I would deal based on my experience so they can hear my thought process and determine which parts do or do not apply to them. – Maresa FriedmanExecutive Cat Herder

10. Be An Active Listener First

Those of us with been-there-done-that experience tend to inflict our views on those we, with all the best intentions, try to help. To avoid talking at people instead of with them, adopt a mentor mindset by choosing to actively listen. Really listen, rather than hearing just well enough to construct the next piece of advice. Then, enable further thinking by asking questions and offering multiple options. – Mark S. BabbittYouTern

11. Slow Down, Listen And Ask Powerful Questions

It’s a tough balance between listening and offering advice. As a former consultant, clients paid me to give advice. However, as a coach, I let the person talk without interrupting. Then, I ask powerful questions to help the client come to the right answer by himself or herself. It’s much more powerful if the client comes up with the answer on his or her own, rather than if I share the answer. – Rebecca BoslDream Life Team

12. Actively Listen And Stay Solutions-Focused

Actively listening requires full concentration on what is being said and allowing the person the space they need to openly share. I am always mindful when listening to confirm what was said to ensure I fully understand. Offering advice requires a full understanding of the problem and a willingness for the client. I am most concerned with offering advice that provides solutions. – Sidney EvansBrand Vision Global

13. It Starts With The Client

As a coach, my job is not typically to offer advice but to create space for the client to find their own solution through active listening and the use of powerful questions. Sometimes, the urgency of the situation and the length of time clients struggle to find a solution dictate that I offer advice. I try to ask, “what might it look like if…” when I have advice for consideration. – Sharon HullMetta Solutions, LLC

14. Pause Before Responding

I once had a coach tell me that I was an interrupter. In my haste to solve someone’s problem, I would start talking over them before they were done speaking. He was right, and I have since learned to purposefully pause before responding. The pause acknowledges that I’ve heard the person. It has also taught me how to be more present in my conversations. – Tina ForsythTina Forsyth

Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
Co-Founder
Contact Justin:
Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
Co-Founder
Contact Justin:
Christine Trevino
Christine Trevino is Chief Operating Officer and efficiency extraordinaire at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has a strong commitment to ensuring our processes create an exceptional experience for our clients and our internal team. After spending nearly a decade within one of the nation’s largest health systems, Christine knows the foundational infrastructure necessary for operational efficiency, conflict management, resolution strategies and creating connections to truly understand what is wanted and needed and how to best accomplish it, whether supporting the business or supporting people. Christine has served in other mission focused organizations, like Texas Exes (Hook Em’) and Whole Foods Market where she had the opportunity to be a servant leader and contribute to making an impact in the lives of others as she also does through our work at BLUECASE. Christine is married to her high school sweetheart and they have five children. She enjoys the outdoors, photography and volunteering in various organizations.
Chief Operating Officer
Contact Christine:
David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
Founder
Contact David:
David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
Founder
Contact David:
Christel Frietsch
Christel Frietsch is the Operations Administrator at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has 30 years of administrative experience with expertise in scheduling, correspondence, logistics and project coordination. Prior to joining the BLUECASE team, she was the Director of Operations for an Austin based CPG healthy lifestyle company, an Executive Administrator for a land use consulting firm, and an Executive Assistant to the CEO of an international disease prevention and wellness company. Originally from Austin, TX, Christel graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, and completed her minor study in Psychology. She is an IIN Certified Integrative Holistic Health Coach and an IPHM Certified Energy Healer. Christel currently lives in New Braunfels, TX with her partner and two rescued dogs. She enjoys spending time in nature, gardening and reading.
CEO
Contact Christel:
Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
Senior Consultant
Contact Lori:
Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
Senior Consultant
Contact Lori:
Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
Senior Consultant
Contact Robin:
Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
Senior Consultant
Contact Robin:
Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
Senior Consultant
Contact Shawn:
Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
Senior Consultant
Contact Shawn:
Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
Senior Consultant
Contact Trish:
Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
Senior Consultant
Contact Trish:
Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
Senior Consultant
Contact Kan:
Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
Senior Consultant
Contact Kan:
Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
Senior Consultant
Contact Lisa:
Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
Senior Consultant
Contact Lisa: