By Martha Lasley

Part 2: Ways of Being Challenging and Supportive

As coaches, we’ve been called to serve, but how do we answer the call? How do we take responsibility for calling out the power of our clients? It may sound counter-intuitive, but our own honest vulnerability invites clients into their power, which lives right alongside of their powerlessness. As Jesse Jackson says, “The key to other people’s hearts is finding the key to yours. Got to give to receive, got to open up yourself to get inside somebody else.”


Both the client and the coach experience these ways of being. So why spend any time at all in the pushy quadrant when it’s so antithetical to the principles of the coaching profession? I assert that you can’t get to edgy coaching without experimenting with pushy coaching. I know about this because I used to spend 99% of my time in the cozy quadrant, unwilling to rock the boat.

Edgy coaching is not always about demanding clients step into confidence; it could be about helping them step into any unexpressed authentic parts of themselves. For instance, calling out the power can be a wakeup call to embrace the grieving process, explore deep-seated fear or express regret. We can help clients reclaim their self-love, express the depth of their longing, or become the leader they’ve always wanted to be.

Examples of Calling out the Power

Here are some examples of edgy coaching in response to the client’s energy:


Client: I can’t just play and have fun all the time. That would be irresponsible.
Coach: Responsibility and play are both important to you. Right now, take full responsibility for having more fun and play in your life.

Client: I know I’m procrastinating, but I think I’ll wait for my son to get a little older.
Coach: Good idea. Your son will be a little older in five minutes.

Client: I’m ready to take action. I went to college with a great film maker – I might get in touch with her. And I also know a producer – not sure if he’d return my call. Maybe I could get a meeting with an agent.
Coach: Too much information. What actions will you actually take?

More examples of edgy coaching:

  • What do you really truly want that you are not allowing yourself?
  • I’ve seen you take a lot of risks, but you seem to be shrinking right now. What happens when you expand your breath and your body?
  • You have told me you want to be challenged. Give yourself the ultimate challenge right now.
  • You say “I’ll try” or “I might” or “Probably”. What happens when you shift your language to “I will?” Make a list of what you are saying yes to.
  • You don’t seem invested in this plan. Connect with your heart, expand the plan and make it rock solid.
  • Enough. What will you stop doing and start doing to accomplish this goal?
  • What would make your grandchildren proud?
  • If you owned this company, what would you do?
  • If you were on the front page of the paper or on TV, how would you like to be portrayed?
How about you?

How has edgy coaching served your clients?


About the author:

441 Martha Lasley is a founder of Coaching for Transformation, an accredited coach training program and ChangeMakers, a year-long facilitation training program. She creates results-oriented programs that inspire, motivate, and transform. “I surround myself with people who take risks and look for new ways of doing things; we explore both the solid ground and the edges of transformation.”

Martha is a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication and is a professional member of the Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Science. She has written three books: Courageous Visions; Facilitating with Heart; and Coaching for Transformation.

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