Picking The Right Coaching Goal

Dear Coach,

Should the coach pick the behavior to work on or the leader being coached?


James Pereira, 

Greater Kuala Lumpur 

Dear James,

Thank you for presenting this insightful question. It really got me thinking, and I even took the initiative to reach out directly to Marshall Goldsmith for his perspective. Here’s what he shared: “The coach can never take responsibility for what the client changes. It is not the coach’s life. It is the client’s life.”

To me, Marshall’s comment contains a cautionary note to coaches. Sometimes we coaches tend to think of ourselves as experts – we know what’s best and how to achieve it. I think Marshall is saying that this is a mistake. Indeed, it reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s observation, “An expert is someone who has stopped thinking because he already ‘knows.’”

When working with a leader on goal setting, I focus on three main aspects: (a) inspire the leader to put in the necessary time and effort; (b) align with what stakeholders desire (this includes the leader’s boss, the leader’s reports, HR and other key players); and (c) where I can add value as a coach.

To come up with such a goal, the 3–3–1 as I describe here is essential. The 3-3-1 creates the foundation for determining a goal that aligns the leader, coach, and stakeholders.

If you’re ready to take your leadership journey to new heights, let’s connect and explore the power of the 3-3-1 approach. Reach out to me, and let’s start the transformational coaching process today.



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 AsktheCoach@mgscc.net.


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