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Three Keys to Starting a Successful Coaching Relationship

For both the new and seasoned coach, bringing on a new client is an exciting experience. It’s a fresh start — a new opportunity to impact lives and incite real change. While exciting, there is also a level of unfamiliarity that comes with working with a new client. Both parties are trying to get a good feel for the other and determine whether this is a working relationship that can be sustained over time.

In setting yourself up for success, there are three keys to starting a successful coaching relationship.


The first key is to set the expectations of accountability. We all know that accountability is so important in coaching, not just for the client, but also the coach. The client needs to understand that part of your role is to ensure that they follow through with the actions they resolve to take. Make this crystal clear from the beginning. Do not be shy about your ability and responsibility to call them out when they have not delivered on their commitments. Similarly, you as the coach are held to a high standard of accountability as well. This includes being prompt for sessions. Though it is easy to get distracted, you must fervently guard your time. If you need to reschedule or know that you will be late for a session, try to let the client know as soon as possible. After all, the client has made a commitment to you. You must respect their time with the same level of commitment that the client has shown you.


The second key is to build trust early on in the process. There are several components to this process, as it is not an overnight event, but something that will take numerous interactions. Reaffirm to the client that the nature of your relationship is strictly confidential. The space between you is a safe one. The client should feel free and open to express their desires, dreams, experiences, and fears without judgment. Remind the client that though often times you will need to hold them accountable, you are doing so because you are in their corner. Your role is to help them transform from where they are to where they want to be. This may not occur without a little tough love, but it’s done with their best interest in mind. Build trust by being an active listener. Let the client know you understand what they’re saying by repeating it back and clarifying what you’re hearing. Be sure to continue to reference these items in future sessions. The client will know you were truly listening, which will create a greater level of trust between you.


While it is true that the client has hired you to perform a service, and a very important one at that, it is also key that you display authenticity. In today’s technological world, a great coach is only a click away. And there are many to choose from. So what makes you different? What do you bring to the table that makes that client say, “You’re the one”? Bring that energy and talent to every conversation and interaction. Be uniquely you. Be human. Show your personal side when appropriate. Allow the client to truly feel that you are a trusted confidant because they feel as though they know not only you, the coach, but you, the human being. The client is not only buying your services, they’re buying you. Be sure that they’re getting their money’s worth by bringing your full self every day.

By adopting these three keys, you are putting your best foot forward and priming the foundation for a successful coaching relationship with your new client. Like any relationship, there will be ups and downs and moments of engagement and disengagement. However, if you set a strong foundation from the beginning, your working relationship will be more likely to withstand the test of time and overcome any other obstacle that develops.

Do you have any advice for starting a new coach-client relationship? Share your tips in the comments!

Are you a new coach who needs help growing your coaching business? Book your free session with me by visiting

Mariana Lacombe
[email protected]

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