Life Coaching

Dear Reader,

Earlier this week, I joined Melissa Abella of Bree Health on her “Be Well With Mel” program. The topic was life coaching. Here’s what I shared.

The vast majority of my coaching work is in the corporate executive leadership space. However, I have over the years undertaken what would be called life coaching engagements. How are they the same and how are they different?

For me, when taking on a life coaching assignment, the most important thing is clarity about the nature of my relationship with my coachee. I make it clear that I am none of the following, nor a substitute for the following: (a) therapist; (b) psychiatrist; (c) medicine; or (d) any other mental health intervention. I’m a coach; that’s it.

I’ve coached people in extreme circumstances, such as a couple jeopardizing their relationship by continuing to inflict mental pain on each other, and a man alive only because the rope broke. I always emphasize that the service I provide is behavior-based coaching and should never be seen as a substitute or replacement for other remedies people can pursue when suffering life challenges.

So how does this translate into the coaching work I do? I apply the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching formula, just as I would in coaching a senior executive to improve his or her leadership effectiveness. This means the following:

  • Doing a 360° assessment in which I ask people who know the coachee what they think his/her greatest strengths are and where change or improvement would be most beneficial.
  • Helping the coachee identify an overall goal by which his/her life and impact on others will be measurably improved.
  • Identifying specific behaviors through which the goal can be achieved.
  • Identifying and engaging Stakeholders (usually 4 to 6) who will have an ongoing role in the coaching process.
  • At least once every 30 days, the coachee will check in with each Stakeholder, one on one, and ask for candid input on progress toward achieving his/her goal, as well as practical suggestions going forward (feedforward.)
  • I will be checking in with the coachee at least once a week regarding questions, problems, and progress. In addition, as coach I make myself available as needed on a 24/7 basis.
  • After a certain interval, usually at least three months, and sometimes as long as six months, Stakeholders will be surveyed regarding the progress they’ve observed the coachee make toward achieving the goal and they will have another opportunity to provide ideas and suggestions for future growth and development.
  • At the conclusion of the engagement, I collaborate with the coachee on an After-Action Review, which will hopefully serve as a blueprint for the coachee’s continued success.

Although the circumstances are usually different in life coaching versus executive leadership coaching, the methodology is the same. Life coaching may involve more frequent coach-coachee interaction as well as more frequent coach-Stakeholder interaction. The coach may also be called on an as-needed basis more frequently than in the typical corporate setting. Yet the system remains the same.

Marshall observes, “My great friend, Alan Mulally, wisely says: ‘Work and Life are not independent from each other. Our work is an important part of our life. You don’t become a different human being when you go home.’” Alan adds, “One Life….Life’s Work….and all of our Life’s Work is Our Love Made Visible!”

Whether in the corporate or personal life world, Stakeholder-Centered Coaching, developed by Marshall Goldsmith, Frank Wagner, and the late Chris Coffey, is amazingly effective. Thank you, gentlemen!



Jathan Janove is a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Master Coach and Practice Leader. You can learn more about him here. If you have a question you’d like him to address, please email us at



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