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Speed Coaching and Leadership Development

I offer my current and potential coaching clients with growing enthusiasm a short business coaching. This is also called speed coaching, which lasts no longer than 20 minutes.  In times of Corona, I use the telephone and – in agreement with my clients – very often Zoom or Skype.

Often the opinion about short-term coaching is very different – among clients but also in my coaching community. See also my LinkedIn article on “Speed Coaching – What Is Wrong With Speed Dating?

Interesting: I often offer an initial strategy discussion to potential clients. When I’m in my coaching mood, I sometimes already ask a potential coaching question and potential clients tell me that it helped them a lot. And there is no further discussion, because my clients have taken a big step forward in their actual situation. Can short-term coaching therefore be wrong or not be justified? Let me describe my experiences in a little more detail:

Is a coaching session effective and efficient if it only lasts 20 minutes?

Coaching has its origin in psychotherapy. It began with Freud, who established a tradition of many conversations in the context of a usually very long – sometimes even several years – treatment period. Carl R. Roger’s talk therapy also included very intensive talks. Even today, an assumed proportionality of conversation duration and effect still applies.

Only with Steve de Shazer and Inso Kim Berg did a change in thinking come about with the effectiveness of coaching and therapy. In the 1970s, the so-called systemic and solution-oriented short-term therapy was developed. Questions about the future or miracles help to bridge the current problem area or decision process and to focus on solutions immediately. While a therapy is often past oriented, solution oriented coaching offers a focus on the current problem. To help my clients quickly and effectively. It is therefore possible that a coaching session is already finished after the strategy meeting or a longer coaching session (after 3 hours). However, several sessions over a period of a few days up to several months are still normal.

Why do I offer coaching sessions that are limited to 20 minutes?

For more than 15 years I was responsible as a corporate executive in the national and international environment of IBM for project teams, departments and divisions nationally and internationally. As HR Leader or HR Manager in an international environment, I was responsible for strategic personnel and organizational development for international business units. The C-Level Executives and Top Decision Makers Leaders had a range of responsibilities of 5000 and more employees in Europe or worldwide. And at the same time these leaders and professionals do not have that much time. In both roles I gained over 20 years of experience as a coach with speed coaching. I have also worked with people for whom coaching was initially completely unfamiliar. Often it was confused with a feedback conversation. My conclusion from this time – Speed Coaching is intense, to the point, it is fun and brings a lot of energy.

Speed Coaching – what exactly happens?

First of all – it is a short conversation and usually focuses on a clearly defined topic or a very specific question. Often you have already met each other in advance, or have been working together for a long time. The Speed Coaching conversation is structured by simple questions. My clients know that I focus on a 5 phase model – here are my thoughts on the Speed Coaching sessions:

 Phase 1 – Initiation – What is on your plate? What is the topic?

The conversation is brought to the point right from the start: What should it be about? What is the goal? The clarification of the topic is often already an essential aspect for the result in coaching. In “normal coaching, this can take a long time in a session to clear the client’s mind. And this clarification serves to illuminate all aspects and also to find the point whose processing will have the greatest leverage for the client. While in “Speed Coaching” it starts right away, in other coaching sessions it can take a very long time to explore the question (What?) and the client in his current state (How).

Phase 2 – Due Diligence – What do you want to have achieved at the end of the speed coaching session?

With joy and enthusiasm my client explains to me what the result should be. Or why he needs help at this very moment. Speed Coaching is focused on a solution or goal, so the client normally leaves the session with an effective result.

Phase 3 – Working on the real problem – How will you know that the meeting has a result?

Now it is time to work and transform: Formulating the goal is correct. It is even more effective to already act as if the goal has already been achieved. Therefore we try out different considerations and ways of acting and I also use different methods to embody and anchor target or solution states.

 Phase 4 – Decision – What does the goal / result bring you?

Even if a clearly defined question is asked, the goal is put into a larger context. If you are clear about the needs that a concrete project addresses and how it contributes to your life, additional motivation is created. Only with absolute honesty will you feel a great success after the coaching session. It is not about perfecting the solution, but deciding which approach to take to implement the problem, and the client summarizes his next steps with a concrete agreement to do so.

Phase 5 – Reflection – What will you do now after the coaching session?

Even a short speed coaching session ends with a short reflection on what the client has learned about the issue and about himself.  He also briefly reflects on how he wants to integrate the new insights into his action portfolio.

And then I am happy to receive feedback from my client.

Speed Coaching – like an exciting tournament game:

These questions give the conversation a structure without putting it into a too rigid process. The question are aimed to provide orientation and my clients are often irritated by surprising questions, provocative statements as well as twists and turns. From my corporate practice I know how important humor, wit, spontaneity and variety are. Speed coaching must be playful and easy. It is therefore definitely not suitable for everyone and a client must be aware that he achieves more when he shows a greater contribution to openness, self-reflection. The client must be open to expect direct and honest feedback. It’s like in any team sport such as football, handball, basketball – if both teams are playing tactical waiting for a good opportunity it might be boring for the viewer. In this case both teams don’t use the whole field and don’t come to an aha experience (= goal or basket). But if you rely on openness, the players and spectators will enjoy it. And this is exhausting for the coach and the client – comparable to a shortened match in a tournament.

More insights:

My 10 tips for effective speed coaching (in English) based on over +5000 leadership coaching hours in a corporate environment and my own entrepreneurial activity. You can get the bonus PDF here: 

It helps you to find your own way to coach or to be coached.  It contains tips on what you as a coach and as a client should take into account to work on a clearly defined question with a high degree of effectiveness in a short time frame.

I wish you many effective coaching sessions with great ease and success.



Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

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