Rudderless coaching: five red flags to watch for

Posted on: 17 Jun 2022

Like a boat, coaching carries people from A to B. Every boat has a rudder, and so too should every coaching session. Every good sailor uses the rudder, and so too should every good coach.


In coaching, your rudder is your coaching agreement. Establish and maintain it effectively, and it will serve to guide the course of the coaching session and ultimately, arrive at the destination. Similarly, just as ineffective use of a rudder (or sailing without a rudder at all) can cause collision or capsizing, so too can an ineffectively established/maintained coaching agreement.


The following five red flags are typical indicators of an ineffectively established/maintained coaching agreement:

  1. Your client and/or coaching session did not stay ‘on track’.
  2. Your client and/or coaching session ‘meandered’ or ‘went in circles’.
  3. You hit on ‘the real issue’ too late in the session (or not at all).
  4. A session stayed in the ‘transactional realm’, lacking transformational insight and outcomes.
  5. You ran out of time to design actions, wrap up or effectively co-create the completion of a session or your session just ran over-time.


Fran Fisher, MCC and ICF Assessor, teaches coaches to master ICF Core Competency number three: Establishes and Maintains Agreements, and “go deeper sooner”. With Fran’s help, coaches learn to use the coaching agreement to support clients in discovering their underlying issue at the beginning of the session, rather than later in the session – or not at all. Done well, the process of establishing the coaching agreement can become the pivotal moment which can make or break a session, as your session is clearly focused and directed towards what the client really wants — which is often quite different to what they bring to the session.


In its sixth year running, the Creating the Coaching Agreement Peer Coaching Round will support you in mastering the process of creating the coaching agreement – whether you want to pass an ICF performance exam or make your coaching more transformational than ever. This year’s round includes Audio 4 – Establishing the Coaching Agreement from Fran’s Wisdom Way Coaching Mastery II program, as well as three Establishing the Agreement coaching demos by Fran. ReciproCoach also provides supplementary structured guidance for getting the most out of the audios and reinforcing your learning with your peer partners.



You can find out more about our Creating the Coaching Agreement Peer Coaching Round (including five years’ testimonials from past participants) here or if you’re already convinced this round/session is just what you need to take your coaching sessions up a level, register now here.


(Registration closes Sunday, July 24)


If you were a past participant of the 2021 or 2020 Creating the Coaching Agreement Peer Coaching Round, and/or already purchased Fran’s original Wisdom Way Coaching Mastery I program, you can register to participate here to get discounted access to the 2022 version, which explains the Updated Competencies and PCC Markers for Establishes and Maintains Agreements, and includes guidance in facilitating the WHO route into your clients’ personal discovery process (in contrast to the WHAT route) and provides tips about how to demonstrate establishing the coaching agreement at the MCC level.


As always, you also have the opportunity to join Fran in a Creating the Coaching Agreement Group Mentoring Session (available for registration separately as a participant here or as an observer here) to learn from Fran’s feedback on your own and others’ processes of establishing the coaching agreement.


Supporting you in going deeper sooner,

Kerryn Griffiths, PhD, PCC

Global ReciproCoach Coordinator