Do you need expertise in your clients’ field or industry? Can you be an effective business or leadership coach without it? How can you handle similar questions from potential clients? Join Melinda and Kristin as they answer these questions and more!
Longer summary episode summary:
As both a business coach and consultant, Kristin Vesa, founder of Vesa Enterprises, understands better than most how intertwined these two roles can sometimes become. However, Kristen reminds us that coaching is helping to develop the inner resources of the client as an individual, so in most cases, no industry expertise should be necessary.
In this episode, Melinda and Kristin help coaches to understand when it might be helpful to have industry-specific knowledge, when it is not and how to be clear with clients about expectations from the beginning. These two seasoned coaches share their professional experience and insight into what really may be going on with a hesitant client and how it just might unmask a great coaching opportunity.
In this episode we discuss:
Do you need expertise in your client’s industry to coach business leaders?
What about culture? Do you need to share your client’s culture?
Do life coaches need to share the major life experience of their clients?
What is the difference between a coach and a consultant?
Can you combine the two?
How can you find hidden coaching opportunities with hesitant potential clients?
How can not knowing a client’s industry actually be a benefit to the coaching relationship?
“I think typically, ‘you need to know everything about my industry when you're coaching me’, is a mask for not wanting to do the deep work that is needed. ”
– Kristin Vesa
Kristin Vesa is a business consultant and coach, helping conscious entrepreneurs and B2Bs increase revenue, streamline processes, and prosper in alignment with their values. She has degrees in industrial engineering, an International MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and 10 years’ experience honing her consulting, engineering, and business growth skills at corporations including Volvo, Ernst & Young, and Apple. Kristin founded Vesa Enterprises and for 20+ years has nurtured her clients’ skills and talents so they can build thriving companies, live the lifestyle of their dreams, and create winning outcomes for their customers.
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Episode transcript: Your Client’s Industry (Kristin Vesa)
•[00:00:05] Kristin: I think typically you need to know everything about my industry when you're coaching me is a mask for not wanting to do the deep work that is needed. That the coach is there to do with the person in front of them.
•[00:00:23] Melinda: Hello and welcome to just between coaches the podcast that tackles difficult coaching conversations head on. My name is Melinda Cohen and I run a business called the coaches console. The coaches council has supported more than 50,000 entrepreneurs in creating their own profitable coaching businesses. In this episode I'm going to have a conversation with a woman who has worked globally with teams and individual leaders. She's also an aces coach at Mercy and joined after running her own consulting company for over two decades and she even speaks Swedish. I've invited Krysten Vesa to this show, Kristin and I are going to discuss if you need expertise in your client's business. I received the listeners email that will be the backdrop for today's conversation and as I always say, unless you tell me otherwise, any email that I read on the show will be anonymous. Here's what anonymous wrote, Hey, Melinda, I'm in a situation I'd like to have your opinion on. I had a prospect who was referred to me, I'm a business coach and the client was transferring to another company but to a higher position than she had before in the intake sessions. She questioned if I could work with her because I don't know anything about her industry. I told her that I didn't think it was a necessity since we're gonna be working with pure coaching tools to develop the leadership style that would be suitable for the new position. But she persisted and moved on. Still. Her statement got me thinking is it important that I know anything about my client's business or area of work? Dear anonymous. Thank you for sending in your question whether a coach needs foundational knowledge of a client's industry is an ongoing discussion among coaches and consultants. I am a firm believer that you need to be very clear about what type of coach you are and what type of service you bring to your clients. Your prospect thinks a coach has to have knowledge about her industry or she might even think she's getting a consultant. The problem may be that the expectations aren't right. Mhm. Mhm. Boom. My guest today Kristen Vesa has a deep understanding of structures, frameworks, processes and procedures combined with a breadth of knowledge into human potential. She's an international conscious business coach and consultant working with high performing professionals and their teams. She guides businesses expansions, focusing on success mapping and accountability tracking, helping companies increase return on investment by taking step by step actions to achieve their goals. Welcome, Kristin,
•[00:02:59] Kristin: Hi Melinda, it's great to be here.
•[00:03:01] Melinda: I'm so excited that you're here and Kristen, I know that you've worked internationally for years. Like I said earlier, you even speak Swedish, are you from Sweden or where did you grow up?
•[00:03:11] Kristin: Yeah, no, I'm actually from the finger lakes area of New york state in the US UP and I went to university in Sweden and worked for Volvo. So I learned Swedish while in Sweden.
•[00:03:24] Melinda: Okay, I have a nosy question, how did you go from new york to go to university in Sweden?
•[00:03:28] Kristin: You know in high school, I was one of those kids that thought it would be really cool to do a foreign exchange and I thought oh but language, my language always helped me. So in my university I was able to take a semester two of Swedish and in the department of undergraduate education where I was doing my work study program, there was a opportunity to go to Sweden for an international study program and that's what took me there initially it was
•[00:03:55] Melinda: so cool. Now you know my clients know that I have a directive style coaching meaning I know my clients want to know how to be business owners and I can provide the pieces of information they need to know. Now Kristin, you call yourself a conscious business consultant and coach. Do you see yourself primarily as a consultant or a coach?
•[00:04:18] Kristin: You know? It depends on which I'm wearing which role the client is hiring me for.
•[00:04:25] Melinda: So you use those like they're both part of your toolkit and whoever you're talking to, one might be more appropriate or another or combination, is that what I'm understanding?
•[00:04:36] Kristin: Yeah, so a consulting engagement is different from a coaching arrangement is how I would say it
•[00:04:42] Melinda: yeah, I would agree with that. And so you can do one or the other or both and it depends on who you're talking to.
•[00:04:49] Kristin: Absolutely.
•[00:04:50] Melinda: Okay, so let's talk about today's topic. Now I've read the listeners email about the client who questions the business coaches ability to work with her without any knowledge of her industry. What's your opinion or view do you think you need to know the ins and outs of everything? As a coach, Kristin?
•[00:05:07] Kristin: No, certainly not. As a coach, I believe as a coach you're focused on knowing that the person in front of you is whole and resourceful and as a coach you're bringing those resources out from the person
•[00:05:20] Melinda: and then as a consultant,
•[00:05:22] Kristin: as a consultant, I think it is wise to have the industry background and your as a consultant offering expert advice in the situation, so you're bringing external advice in whereas as a coach you're pulling internal resources out.
•[00:05:41] Melinda: Okay, I love that distinction. I just want to repeat that. As a coach, you're pulling internal resources from that person out. But as a consultant, how did you say that again?
•[00:05:51] Kristin: You're bringing your expertise, your external expertise into the organization or into the situation.
•[00:05:58]Melinda: I love that distinction. Now is there ever a time when it is you kind of alluded to but I'd like you to expand on it when it's important to have that foundational knowledge of a client's industry.
•[00:06:09] Kristin: I do believe that it depends on what type of coaching, you know, there's a big difference between life coaching and business coaching for example and I believe that there's a level of, I think you said it in the introduction expectation and that expectation I think leads to a level of respect. I think as a coach, if you're starting to feel the slippery slope that your client is not feeling respectful. In other words, they are questioning whether you can help them. I do think that's something to lean into and decide whether the arrangement is appropriate for the two of you.
•[00:06:43] Melinda: Yeah. And so early when I was talking about that for me, I make sure upfront before they've ever even hired me before we ever even started any sessions that the expectation is set on how I show up. Like you talked about sometimes you wear the consultant had, sometimes you wear the coat chat. I always bring kind of that combination hat that at any given point with my clients, I might go back and forth and in one conversation there might be a little bit of directive, coaching, consulting advice giving and then in that same conversation coaching around what we just discovered and we're talking about. Do you experience that as well or is it more of I'm working with this client. So this is a consultant but I'm working with that client and that's a coaching relationship.
•[00:07:29] Kristin: I would agree with you Melinda that most often it's a combination and I think that to be a good at both roles, you know that nuance and again it's the expectation right? Is the person expecting to be given a list of directives or are they coming for coaching? And then the question leads, are they coachable? Because sometimes what happens is there's an uncomfortable ability that can be projected as you're not the right coach for me or you don't know enough about my industry when it's actually opening to a greater growth for the individual you're coaching
•[00:08:05] Melinda: and I just want to capture that for our listeners because one of the greatest coaching skills I love is the way I describe it as hearing what's not being said right, hearing what's underneath the conversation. And so when people uh might say something like well you're not the right coach for me because I need a consultant. I love the way you just identified that. It's like well that might be true and that might be a cover for what's going on because they're not coachable. It's uncomfortable. They don't really want to go there and there could be bigger opportunities there. How do you explain the difference between your coaching and consulting hats to your clients or even prospects.
•[00:08:44] Kristin: Yeah, so I think we touched on it before about the external and internal, I think in all of it for me it's asking the questions to find out what the expectation is for my prospect, my potential client or the client that's in front of me. I want to be clear that if I'm here as a coach, I'm going to be guiding through questioning to elicit what's really going on for the person and finding again that resource from the inside that the client can't see seeing the forest through the trees in that way. But from the internal clients perspective and as a consultant it's also the forest through the trees. But it's the expertise of wow, you know, we could really streamline this operation for example. I do a lot of technology implementation and streamlining and oftentimes it's why are we using six different platforms and we have so much redundancy. So it's really getting clear on what is the thing we're solving for and then which of the hats am I using to solve that particular issue or problem or reach the goal for the client
•[00:09:53] Melinda: And when you're talking with your clients or even prospects before they become clients, are you conveying these as options and then letting them share with you what they're wanting or think they need or you just saying this is how I work and then you show up based on the client's needs.
•[00:10:12] Kristin: Mm I think that typically someone will eat, reach out either for a consulting project or to be coached and it's in the explaining or in the conversation of how I would work with them. It depends again on what is the problem we're solving for, what is the pain point that the person or the organization is having and then understanding how I would work together with them to both bring in expertise and my coaching skills to draw out the best possible solution for the environment for all the people involved.
•[00:10:46] Melinda: So let's go back to what anonymous wrote in in that situation and as a business coach, like explain to anonymous, how would they articulate this to their perspective clients?
• [00:10:59] Kristin: I believe that we have to listen to our gut reaction to our intuition and if you're really sitting in front of someone and you feel like this is a singer a disapproving a disrespectful way that this is coming across, you might want to just say, you know, I think you're right and call it a day, honestly, I think as a coach and a consultant that is a choice that you do have as your first go to and then if you say no, I really do want to work with this person and I recognize that they're feeling a little uncomfortable. It's really then asking where getting to the root of what's really the uncomfortable it e I think typically you need to know everything about my industry when you're coaching me is a mask for not wanting to do the deep work that is needed, that the coach is there to do with the person in front of them.
•[00:11:48] Melinda: Yeah, sometimes I would even like I pull in some coaching questions right? With anonymous is email in that situation. This new client clearly was like, no, I don't want to coach, I need like you need to know my industry or else you can't help me. It's kind of paraphrasing what they said and I would bring in those coaching questions to say things like, well, you know what I'm noticing is you're saying you need a certain level of expertise and the role that coaching can play along with that. And then I would explain the power of coaching so that the person could see the possibility and then I would check in with them to see is that something that you're open to
•[00:12:29] Kristin: exactly being open to coaching is one of one of the keys to the success, right?
•[00:12:34] Melinda: Yeah. But let me ask you this when you think about the different types of issues or questions that are common in the coaching and consulting space, would you say that uh do you see this a lot or is this a non issue and it only happens every now and then, or is it pretty common?
•[00:12:54] Kristin: I think that there is often a feeling tone from a client that they want to work with someone who understands their industry, whether they're being coached or consulted. I think that is a pretty common expectation, right? I want to be coached by someone who understands my industry. I think that's a common expectations.
•[00:13:12] Melinda: Yeah, I think for you and I both being in the business sector of in that realm of coaching, I would imagine we do see a lot of that. I could see with life coaching and different niches that that may not be as common but in some niches. I think people do, I agree. I think people expect that certain knowledge, although the power of coaching, it's about transformation doesn't matter what industry you're in, it's just about transformation and moving through that space. But I could see where it does fit in with multiple niches. Have you seen that, do you work with coaches and other niches? Like life coaches where they also have to have that foundational experience um you know, matching personal experience?
•[00:13:56] Kristin: Yeah. I think if you stay with the true meaning and value of coaching, you don't need, that's all external stuff. Again, I think the true coaching skills and the gift of working with the couch is being coachable. In other words, allowing the coach to ask the questions to find what's within you, the client, what is going on? Where is there an opportunity to move beyond the current condition, the current level of uncomfortable? It e I think a good coach works to find that unique way to move forward for that person and when I say unique, I don't mean like big stroke unique. I mean just a little nuance that shift, the coaches looking for, shifting the person. So for me coaching is I know I've had a great session when the person feels the shift, they say, oh, I'm leaving this session with a new level of either energy or understanding or forward motion. Then when I started my coaching session with you and it's independent of any industry information or intelligence in my opinion.
•[00:15:08] Melinda: Yeah. Now I want to shift gears kind of slightly, you know, you talked about how you speak Swedish and you have four university degrees and so I just want to touch a little bit on your experience of working internationally and your diverse background. Like you've been consulting outside the coaching industry for years to what level do you need to understand the client's culture to serve him or her better and get results.
•[00:15:33] Kristin: I do think culture is important one place I'm really finding it as, as a business culture, business consultant. I think you do need to understand how business is done in the region and I understand how culturally people get along just the everyday things. What are those nuances because they really do matter in moving forward. I do think that being open to another person's culture, um ways of being in the world. And I personally think that one of the ideas I've had for years since my first time of going to Sweden and coming back was, wow, I wish we would have an exchange program within the United States because from coast to coast, place to place, I've lived on both coasts back and forth and there's a learning that one does by moving out of that comfort zone and into a whole brand new space. So I think there's something about self awareness that's coming into this conversation for me too. That's important for both the coach and the client.
•[00:16:41] Melinda: Now earlier you talked about, you know, sometimes it isn't a matter of how great a coaches or how great the consultant is. Sometimes your client just won't listen to your guidance or suggestions. Right? And I'm thinking about two clients that I had who turned out to be uncomfortable. You were talking about that uncoachable situation earlier. Right? And sometimes it's just like, you know what, that's not going to work. And I wanted to know, have you experienced a really tough situation with a client who's been uncoachable? And how did you deal with that?
•[00:17:15] Kristin: Yeah. You know, one of the basic premises in industrial engineering was the whole Peredo effect 80 20 rule, you know, from 20% of the effort, 80% of the benefit comes. And I think of it this way is that in any given situation there's gonna be some of it that doesn't go well. And so identifying those clients or those situations that aren't going well, it's just part of the evolution and it's accepting myself that that's what's going on that it's not all going to be
•[00:17:46] Melinda: great.
•[00:17:47] Kristin: And so I think once I'm clear that that's the situation that, oh, this is not going the way I wanted to go or the client wants it to go. The best thing is to end that coaching client relationship and move on. I think it's just an energy drain to stay in it. •[00:18:06] Melinda: Yeah, yeah. So let's go back to anonymous Kristin. Do you have any other helpful tips?
•[00:18:12] Kristin: So anonymous is the coach and the coaching client is saying you need to know my industry. So I think again, it's the tip is to really get clear on what is this relationship about, what is the client hiring the coach for and really having that clear understanding of as your coach, This is what I understand my responsibility is to you. And again, I don't think as a coach, it's about understanding the industry sometimes. In fact it's best I have no idea what the industry is about because then you're really dealing with the person in front of you and you're really seeking to understand their perspective and where they are having challenges that can help them move forward.
•[00:18:58] Melinda: I love that right there. That when you're sharing the expectations, you know, the benefit of consulting and the benefit of coaching, you know, wearing that coaching hat maybe not being a complete expert in a field, I bring a fresh perspective. I'm going to be curious and help you be curious and we're going to think outside the box and so there's a benefit to that and it's important for us to convey that when we're sharing those expectations.
•[00:19:24] Kristin: Yes, and I do think that that is also part of being a consultant, right? You're not fully both coaching and consulting just to bring that into. Is that yes, there's an expertise. What is your expertise though? It may not be something that someone would look at as an industry expertise, but it might be, for example, a lot of work I did with supply chain and so the logistics and the supply chain, that was a different way of looking at the industry to think out of the box like you said. So I think that's where there's such a similarity and coaching and consulting and that's why I love doing what I do because it's thinking out of the box and solving things so that it's beneficial to everyone concerned. Like that's my goal as a coach and consultant.
•[00:20:09] Melinda: So let's summarize a few things that we talked about today. I love how Kristen talked about the distinction between coach and consultant, the coach, you know, they're listening what's going on within the person, They're pulling internal resources out of that person where the consultant is bringing the expert advice, the external experience into a situation and we talked about the importance of setting the expectations with your potential clients before they ever even hire you, which leads to respect and it's that respect so that the clients can feel confident in the different ways that you do support them and that the opportunity and I love when Kristen said this that sometimes like in the case of this situation and I don't know if this was happening or not, but if there is somebody who's saying, oh I need a consultant, I need you to be an expertise in my field, I don't want just a coach, what might be happening in there. We've got to listen to what's going on under the conversation and it might be a form of resistance showing up and there could be a great coaching opportunity there if we're willing to explore it and that we don't necessarily have to have an expertise in the person's industry or within a certain thing, but to have an understanding, a compassion, to have some knowledge in the person's background within their industry and their culture and then bring the power of coaching and or consulting to support them in the way that serves them best. So when you have training as a coach, even if you don't have expertise in a particular area, you can lean into the power of coaching and the benefits of coaching, no matter what knowledge of the industry you have or don't have, that's where your confidence comes from, you don't have to compensate or overcompensate by being an expert. Don't take it personally because when we take it personally we start to doubt ourselves. Start to doubt the skills of coaching and now we're left doubt wondering should I take this client on but to stay confident in the power of coaching, to stay confident in the role that it can play and how those two coach and consultant can work together will help you not necessarily defend but present the case so that the potential client can understand how and everything that you bring to the table beyond coaching or beyond consulting. Any other parting words for anonymous, Kristen •[00:22:38] Kristin: just to remember that it's about the relationship, this work is more about the people and the relationships you're forming and building than anything else. So keeping your boundaries is really important and if you're in that coaching role and you feel like your boundaries are you know, you're letting it slip, that's on you to bring it back. So that's where bringing that confidence that you spoke about Melinda being a confident coach as you so aptly are. I really think that that's a true energetic to hold as a coach and a consult. •[00:23:11] Melinda: Well, thank you for listening to this episode of just between coaches and also a big thank you to Kristen Vesa for this great conversation, you can find out more about her at kristen Vesa dot com. That's K R I ST I N. V E S A dot com. Kristin, thank you so much for coming to the show.
•[00:23:34] Kristin: Thank you, Melinda. It was really fun.
•[00:23:37] Melinda: well, I'm Melinda Cohen and you've been listening to just between coaches, just between coaches as part of the Mirasee FM network, which also includes course lab and making it this episode was produced by Cynthia Lamb. Danny Iny is our executive producer. I wrote this episode with Michi Lantz and she assembled the episode. If you don't want to miss future episodes, please subscribe to apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you're listening right now and if you like the show, please leave us a starred review. It's the best way to help us get these ideas to more people. And if you have a question for just between coaches, put the show title in the subject line and send it to podcasts at mirasee dot com. That's podcasts. Plural at Mirasee M I R A S E E dot com.