Useful tools for life coaches

Toolful Coach has the opportunity to regulary advise readers of ICN – International Coaching News with tools that relate to the topic of the given issue. We have started our series of publications with 2nd issue about tools for coaching style managers and now Issue 3 is also out with tools for life coaches.

The full article may be read on pgs 19-20. of ICN Issue 3, be downloaded in pdf from Toolful Coach’s site and be read as text down here:

Toolful Coach column vol. 2. – useful tools for life coaching with a case study

There is no coaching process without life coaching aspects…agree? Every executive, every manager, every entrepreneur is a human being in himself/herself with several roles around the clock thus faces all kinds of personal challenges. Let it be self confidence, conflict management, assertive communication or time management – the coach has many tools to help in holding up a mirror and finding the best suitable way out of the perceived problem. For a whole range of those tools look for the lollipop symbol in the Toolful Coach book ( However, before doing that, have a look at a few selected ones below:

 Wheel of life

This tool is one of the most commonly used tools in co-active coaching, primarily applied in life coaching, but it can be easily customized to many scenarios (e.g. identifying priorities, evaluating management competencies, etc.). The coachee has to name the eight sections to represent different aspects of his/her life. The coachee can mark his or her level of satisfaction with each life area by drawing a straight or curved line to create a new outer edge, this will give the wheel of the coachee’s life. Then the coach and the coachee can review together how bumpy the ride would be if this were a real wheel. Where does the coachee want to improve his or her level of satisfaction? What specifically can he or she do to accomplish that?


Montage as a tool is ideal when working with creative clients with a preference for visual techniques. The coach asks the coachee to compile a montage of pictures describing him or her, his or her family, or his or her workplace, depending on the focus of the coaching. You can use glossy magazines, but some people prefer to take photos from their own family album. This is an optimal tool for tackling work-life balance or assertiveness issues. It might occur that the coachee is not aware of the price he or she has to pay to achieve a goal. In such cases, it often helps if he or she, instead of sharing his or her story with consciousness, views the montage as a projection of him/herself. It might be astonishing to see which fields of life he or she is neglecting (e.g. he or she only has pictures taken at work and with his or her kids and completely omit the “self” and his or her own needs). The montage might clearly illustrate what needs and expectations the coachee wants to fulfill.

 Drawing a Tree

Coaches with a psychology background often use this tool with remarkable results. The coachee is asked to draw a tree. When ready, he or she is asked to draw another one and a third one. The coachee then has to look at the three trees and say everything that comes to his or her mind when observing them. At this point, the coach displays the key. The first tree symbolizes how we present ourselves to the outside world, the second one represents how we live inside ourselves, and the third one – how we would like to be.

This tool can be applied very well for topics involving self-knowledge. Because each client is unique, we must coach him or her at the stage where he or she is in his or her personal development and in the areas that are in fact the most pressing for them at the moment. This tool sheds light on the differences, possible contradictions between our self-image, roles and desires.

 Green tea with milk – a short story on how to start becoming more assertive

Making small steps as a sure way to progress is a key to any coaching process. A client wanted to improve his conflict management skills. He had picked three coaches he wanted to meet to make his choice. At the first meeting, he and the first coach candidate discussed his expectations and objective that they wanted to reach. His primary goal was to be able to stand up for himself and dare to express his own opinion – even to his supervisor. Apparently he had so far been struggling with saying ’no’ or confronting anybody: his subordinates, his secretary or even a waiter at the restaurant. He called this situation a ’conflict management’ issue.

 He and this coach met at a posh cafe. He ordered a cup of green tea with hot milk. He was served green tea with some cold milk. He was upset but ready to drink it anyway. The coach stopped him. Although this was their very first, introductory meeting, the coach asked the client if he wanted to start his self-development process right away.

 As the client had been avoiding conflicts all through his life and procrastinating changes for decades, he instantly said: ’Maybe next time.’ Then he paused a little bit and changed his mind.

Client: ’Alright then, let’s try to face this conflict. Why don’t we ask the waiter to get me another cup of tea.’

Coach: ’I’m sorry, there must be a misunderstanding here. I am not the one who wants to improve in conflict management. And I’m not the one who will confront the waiter. I am here to confront YOU with how you are behaving – and I just did it.

Client: ’You’re right. I think I’ll pick you as my coach. Waiter!’



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