There are many great ways to construct coaching conversations. There is one sure way for all of them to fail. “Fail” means not providing impetus for meaningful momentum or change.
No (perceived) gap, no goal.
The number one reason coaching conversations fail is the lack of a perceived gap by the person being coached. It is the same whether the person being coached is a senior executive, an elite athlete, a staff member, or (this one is tough) one of your children. If the person does not feel, perceive or is aware of that there is a gap then there is nothing to coach towards.
The essential part of coaching is finding that gap. It is especially hard with successful people or those with a high self-image.
The key is building awareness. Several avenues are available: questions around values (i.e. what are they and to what extent are you exhibiting them), questions around purpose (i.e. what is it and to what extent are you living up to it), or questions around impact on others (i.e. what does the team say about you and why). If you are their leader you can also share their impact on you.
Although we (those seeking to coach others) are convinced of the need for change in others, the change only occurs when that person sees it too.
What have you found to help people see their gap?