Lindsay Dotzlaf

Mastering Coaching Skills with Lindsay Dotzlaf | Teaching Vs. Coaching

Ep #48: Teaching Vs. Coaching

As coaches, there are a lot of different hats that we wear. We see everything that is possible for our clients, so I like to think of us as teachers, cheerleaders, accountability partners, mentors, and even friends to a certain extent.

Now, one question that comes up a lot inside Coaching Masters when we’re discussing how to be an amazing coach for your clients is how much time they should be spending in the role of teacher or strategist, versus spending time coaching their client’s brain. And so in this episode, I’m sharing my thoughts in this area, so you can show up exactly as your client needs you to.

This is something that comes up for every coach at some point, and there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution, but tune in this week to discover how you can strike the perfect balance between coach and teacher for your specific clients. I’m sharing what separates us as coaches from the other people in our clients’ lives where they can get advice, and I have a feeling it’s something you won’t have considered before and might even surprise you a little.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why there is no right or wrong in this area, especially depending on your niche and your individual clients.
  • How I like to think about how much I should spend teaching versus coaching.
  • What differentiates us as coaches from other sources or mentors that our clients can go to for advice or help.
  • Where to look to see the gifts you have to offer as a coach beyond just your tools.
  • How to show up as an amazing coach for your clients and help them get the results they want and need.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

Hey, this is Lindsay Dotzlaf and you are listening to Mastering Coaching Skills episode 48.

To really compete in the coaching industry, you have to be great at coaching. That’s why every week, I will be answering your questions, sharing my stories, and offering tips and advice so you can be the best at what you do. Let’s get to work.

Hello, I am so glad you are here today. I’m going to talk about something so fun. Well, I think it’s so fun. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I just want to share it with you. It’s something that comes up for a lot of my students, and some of my colleagues. And just something in general that I feel like I’ve been having this conversation a lot with other people, with other coaches. And so I’ve been spending time thinking about it, and I want to share with you what I have come up with.

So, as coaches we have lots of different jobs, right? Kind of lots of different hats that we wear. And I like to say as coaches sometimes we are teachers, we’re teaching our clients things that we have learned, that we know, that we can share with them.

Sometimes we are their cheerleaders. We are like the person that’s just in their corner, we’re rooting for them. We see them in everything. We see our clients in everything that is possible for them at kind of their highest level, their highest self, whatever you want to call that. And we are just there to say like, “Yes, you’ve got this. You can do it. Let’s go.”

Very similarly, we’re also their encouragers. We’re there to say like, “Hey, I know it’s not working right now, but it’s going to.” We kind of are a friend, kind of like we’re there to pick them up when they think something has gone wrong.

We are also sometimes accountability partners. Sometimes our clients do things, or accomplish things, or make things work, things that they wanted to do, right? But sometimes they do it out of knowing they have to come to a session with us, the next session, next week, whenever it is, and report back, did they do it? Is it working?

Sometimes we are mentors. So a lot of times as coaches our job is to say like, “I have done this thing, I was successful at it. I can teach you how I did it.” That is a part of coaching. And then the final thing we do as coaches is we examine our clients’ minds. We teach them how to use their brains differently.

Now, depending on what kind of coach you are you may be some of these things, you may be all of these things. I’m not saying that every coach does every single one of these. But one question that comes up a lot, especially in my mastermind when we’re talking about being the best coach for your clients, being an amazing coach, is the question of how much time should I be spending in client sessions teaching versus coaching their minds. Versus like looking at how are they thinking about things?

How much time should I spend in strategy and kind of teaching them, telling them how to do something, or how I do something, or teaching them a strategy versus examining their thoughts, coaching their mind, really looking at their mindset, the way their mind affects everything in their life or whatever it is that they’re working on with you in their life?

And here’s what I want to offer, this is the thing I want to talk about on this podcast. And I want to offer something that you may have never thought of before. And I’ll get to that in a second, but first I just want to say obviously there is no right or wrong. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to this some of you may spend a lot more time teaching than coaching depending on what type of coach you are.

Some of you might spend a lot more time or almost 100% of your time just coaching your client’s minds, just examining their thoughts, just teaching them how to process emotions. In between there is usually where most coaches fall, doing a little bit of all of it. And there is no right or wrong. Again, it depends on what kind of coach you are, what type of coaching program you have, what your process is.

So if you have a very specific niche, there’s a good chance you have more defined strategies, tools, concepts that you work with your clients with. Versus if you’re a general life coach and you coach on everything, it might be a lot less defined.

Also, if you’re a one on one coach, if you only work with one client at a time doing one session, within that session the way you spend that time may be very loose. You might not have a very structured process, a very structured program. You might let your clients come to you with whatever is coming up for them that week, and you coach on that. That’s amazing.

If you’re coaching in a group, you know, in a group coaching setting, in a mastermind, or even in a program, the more volume of clients you have at once, probably the more specific your tools are. The more specific your strategies are and that’s how your business becomes more scalable and more scalable, is you really narrowed down the types of things that you’re teaching and it becomes like, this is my method.

So I get this question all the time, how much time should I be spending doing one versus the other? I have this conversation a lot with some of my colleagues who are making lots and lots of money, so this isn’t necessarily a problem when it comes up for you. And it’s not even specific to new coaches versus seasoned coaches.

This is something that comes up for every coach, at some point. Even I question this like when I’m planning content for my mastermind. When I’m planning a program that I’m currently creating, that I will have in the future, which is a little like, “Heads up, program coming,” so fun. But it’s a question I even ask. How much time do I spend teaching versus how much time do I spend coaching?

And here is one kind of thing I realized recently, one way I like to think about it, I want you to think about the one thing that as coaches differentiates us from other people that our clients can go to for help, or other sources that our clients can go to, to help them with whatever it is they want help with. What is the one differentiator?

It isn’t our tools. It isn’t some of the other things I was saying, you can find cheerleaders, encouragers, you can find those people anywhere, right? You can even go find a mentor, anywhere. Whatever the goal is that you’re trying to accomplish, our clients are trying to accomplish, they can go into the world and find someone doing that thing and ask them like, “Can you tell me how you did it? Can you help me?”

The one single thing that differentiates coaches from other people that can help is that as coaches we spend time examining our client’s mind. We are showing them, like really digging in, really being super curious about how are you thinking about this? How are you experiencing these emotions that you’re having? How are you processing these emotions? How are you moving through life with these thoughts? And how is that influencing the results that you’re getting?

We are the people, people come to us, coaches, no matter what kind of coach you are, life coach, health coach, business coach, whatever. The reason to hire a coach, even if your client doesn’t realize it in the moment when they’re doing it. But we as coaches, we know this, right? The reason to hire a coach is because we are going to help our clients think differently, experience their inner workings differently.

We are going to help them become more self-aware. We’re going to help them have more self-compassion. Stop beating themselves up. We’re going to help them find more confidence. We are going to just really show them that so many of the ways that they’re thinking about things, not in every single case, but the way they’re thinking about things, the way they are reacting to things, those things are optional.

There are other options, let’s get curious about when you believe other things about yourself. When you believe other things about stuff going on in the world, how does that change the results we get in our life? Coaches are the only people that do that.

Their friends don’t do that. Their mentors don’t do that. Teachers don’t do that. Teachers are like, “Let me just teach you a thing. You’re going to memorize it, learn it, take it, use it.” That’s amazing. But as coaches, this is where the gold is. This is like the thing that sets us apart from everyone else.

Now, of course, there are other sciences that dive into working with people on how their brain works. If you think about like psychology, therapy, all of that, for sure. But the way coaches do it is just different. We are starting with today moving forward, not always going back living in the past. And it’s just different. I’m not going to go down a whole rabbit hole there.

But just as coaches, I just want you to really, really, really think about that, I’m going to say it like 100 times because I want you to let it sink in. And the reason I want it to sink in is because every time you’re questioning, “Should I be teaching more? Do I need more specific tools? Do I need a more specific process to give my clients? Is that the thing that makes my coaching better?” The answer is no.

Now, of course, you’re going to have processes, you’re going to have strategies, you’re going to have tools. And the more kind of down the road of your business you get, the more specific things you will have. At some point you’ll start creating your own tools, possibly. But it’s like right now, in this moment, the gift that you are giving your client is showing them how to use their brain differently, how to react to the world around them differently.

One thing when I was like really thinking about this, and I’m going to give you a bunch of examples, but one thing that really stands out to me when I think about tools, when I think about strategies, when I think about teaching our clients how to do something, I want you to take a second and think about this. Anything that you teach your clients is it searchable on the internet? Could they find the answer in Google? Whatever search engine they’re using, could they type in the words and find an answer?

Now it might not be your specific answer, your specific strategy. But they can find answers, almost always. I actually put this to the test and realized I couldn’t find an example where you couldn’t Google it and find an answer. But really think about this for a second, the value of coaching isn’t in the piece where we’re teaching and telling our clients what to do. It is in the other parts.

If it is Googleable, if it is searchable on the internet, that’s not our most valuable asset. Now, again, I’m not saying don’t create those things. For sure, create them. As you go and you see like, “Oh, all of my clients, we’re all working on this specific thing. Yes, let me create a tool for this. Let me like, examine this tool that I’m already using and see is this working best for my clients?” Definitely do it.

But anytime you notice yourself having thoughts, having drama about like, “Oh, my clients don’t really understand the mindset piece, or they don’t really want to do that. Or their brains don’t really work that way, they just want me to tell them the how.” Of course, they want you to tell them the how, you haven’t taught them really what coaching is. That’s part of your job.

Your job is to understand the value of coaching so strongly that when people come to you, and they’re like, “No, no, I just want you to tell me how to do it,” which is normal, there’s no need to have drama about that. It’s totally normal. Everything I’m having a hard time with I would love someone to just give me steps one through 10 so I could follow them very easily and not think twice about what I’m doing and just know I’m going to get the results. But we know as coaches, that is not how it happens.

So I’m going to give you a few examples. The one I’m going to start with because I know a lot of you listening are coaches, a lot of you have your own businesses, you’re building businesses, and so you’re probably very familiar with business coaches. Some of you may be business coaches.

And I want you to really think about this, you can go online and search, how to build a business? How to make money? How to build a website? How to attract clients? What’s the best way to market? You can go search all of these things, you will find 100 answers. You could pick one, use it until it worked. And eventually it would probably work.

The value of working with a business coach, no matter what their strategies are, because you can hire business coaches with a thousand different strategies. You can hire a coach that’s going to teach you how to do Facebook ads.

You can hire a coach that’s going to teach you how to market organically using social media. You can hire a podcast coach that is like podcast is the number one way to build a business. You can hire someone who’s amazing at funnels and clicks and numbers and tracking every single piece of a launch.

You can hire any kind of business coach with different strategies, any of them will work. But the power of working with a coach and not just Googling or looking it up on the internet is that a coach is really going to work with you to examine like, “Okay, here’s my strategy, you use it.”

And then you go use it and come back and say, “Here’s what worked, here’s what didn’t work.” Or “Here’s why I couldn’t even take these actions. This is what’s coming up for me. My body right now is very activated. I am feeling so stressed about this. I tried to post on Facebook and my entire body was shaking and I couldn’t do it.” Or whatever, right? Any of the things.

The value of a strategy, the value of a tool isn’t so that your clients take it, use it, and it works perfectly. In a perfect world, of course, that’s what would happen. But that’s not the value of coaching.

The value of it is giving your clients a tool, letting them use it, and then figuring out why it worked or why it didn’t. It just gives you more information in order to help them understand themselves better so that they can move forward closer to their goal.

All right, so that was one example. Let’s think about a marriage coach. You can go online and search, how do I have a happy marriage? How do I become closer to my partner? What do I do when I find out that my partner is talking to someone else? Whatever it is, whatever the problem you think you’re having, obviously we’re talking about your clients in these scenarios.

But whatever the problem is, you can look it up and you can find the answer, I promise you, I tested it, of what to do. You’re going to find 100 different answers, but you could pick one and move on and do it. But the value of working with a marriage coach is that they are showing you how everything that’s happening inside of you, in your brain, in your body, in your emotions, how all of that comes together to create the results that you have in your life.

You can go online and search, how to lose weight? How to eat healthier? That is never a problem. For anyone that has ever tried a diet, tried to lose weight, you can probably think back to like, “Yeah, I could find 100 different things that would tell me how to do it.”

The value of a coach, a weight loss coach, a nutrition coach, a health coach, isn’t their tools. Of course, they probably have amazing tools. Like some of you, you have incredible tools, whether you learned them somewhere else, or you have created your own. I’m sure your tools are amazing.

But the part of working with your client that is so special for your client versus them going online and just searching what to do, is the part where it’s customized to them. Is the part where they get coached on their brain because that’s the piece they can take with them forever.

If you coach someone on their brain, on the way they are thinking about things, on the way they are allowing or not allowing certain emotions, on the emotions they’re avoiding, on just how they’re showing up in their life, that goes with them forever.

If you are a general life coach and you are working with all different types of clients, you might have a handful of tools that you use, a handful of strategies that you use when your clients need them. But for the most part, your tool might be some sort of tool for awareness.

So I’m certified through the Life Coach School, one tool, a very effective tool for awareness is the model. There’s so many other ones too that are also amazing. I’m familiar with the model. So that’s the one I talk about. That might be the tool that you use with your clients. You might teach them even this tool so that they can use it when you’re not there.

You might have other tools too, you might have time management tools, and relationship tools, and whatever. If you’re a general life coach you might have lots of tools, lots of strategies that you use. But, again, the most important piece of what you do is really examining what happens when your clients try to use those tools. What comes up for them? What are they thinking? Why do they do it? Why do they not do it? Why do they avoid doing it? Why do they love doing it?  Whatever it is.

Let this sink in. No matter where you are in your coaching business, this is so fun always to remember. Your most important asset as a coach is very simple. It is showing your clients their minds. It is showing your clients how they are responding to the world around them. It’s showing your clients The thoughts and the feelings that they have developed and just learned over their lifetime. And how is that serving them now? How is it not?

So you can have a thousand amazing tools. I’m not saying don’t create those tools, don’t use tools, don’t find strategies that work for you. What I am saying is don’t think that those are more important than the actual coaching piece.

All right, I will see you guys next week. I will talk to you next week. I hope you have an amazing one. Bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Mastering Coaching Skills. If you want to learn more about my work, come visit me at That’s Lindsay with an A, see you next week.

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Hi I’m Lindsay!

I am a master certified coach, with certifications through the Institute for Equity-Centered Coaching and The Life Coach School.

I turn your good coaching into a confidently great coaching experience and let your brilliance shine.

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