Unless you are creating your own coaching and consulting frameworks, you are likely getting lost in a sea of sameness.
In the past decade, hiring a personal or professional coach has become more mainstream. To the external world, it is a sign of emotional intelligence. To the internal person, it is a helpful perspective that can guide you, help you see your blind spots, and give you encouragement and support.
Because the desire and need for personal and professional coaching have become trendy, there are also a whole lot of people who are claiming the profession. Especially in the wake of the pandemics’ Great Resignation, more people than ever before have become self-employed. And, since being a coach doesn’t require certification or licensure, anyone can do it.
Here’s the problem. Claiming to be a coach is easy. But, there is great responsibility when guiding and supporting other humans. And unfortunately, not all coaches understand this.
“Consider Rob Bernstein. (In the interest of confidentiality, I use pseudonyms throughout this article.) He was an executive vice president of sales at an automotive parts distributor. According to the CEO, Bernstein caused trouble inside the company but was worth his weight in gold with clients. The situation reached the breaking point when Bernstein publicly humiliated a mail clerk who had interrupted a meeting to get someone to sign for a parcel. After that incident, the CEO assigned Tom Davis to coach Bernstein. Davis, a dapper one-time corporate lawyer, worked with Bernstein for four years. But instead of exploring Bernstein’s mistreatment of the support staff, Davis taught him techniques for “managing the little people”—in the most Machiavellian sense. The problem was that while the coaching appeared to score some impressive successes, whenever Bernstein overcame one difficulty, he inevitably found another to take its place.:”
You can already see where this is going, right? An unqualified coach guiding a bad employee. It’s the recipe for lawsuits, scandal, and bad company morale.
The more this type of situation happens, the less trusted the whole coaching profession will be.
Plus, according to the ICF Global Coaching Study (2020), there are an estimated 71,000 coach practitioners (internal and external individuals whose job is specifically to coach others). This is an increase of 33% above the 2015 estimate.
According to IBISWorld, the business coaching market has grown at a rate of 2.3% per year from 2019-2023. If we assume that rate of growth applies to coaching areas outside of business coaching as well, that means that the number of coach practitioners in North America is over 25,000.
Unfortunately, IBISWorld is also predicting, with the uncertainty in the economy, that the investment in coaching services in 2023 will not grow and may even decline.
Types of Coaches Competing for Business
Health and Wellness coach
So, how do we fix it?
We lean into associations like ICF (International Coaching Federation) and their training programs.
We create and encourage hiring standards for a coachee so that the vetting process is stronger.
And, as coaches, how do we stand out from this massive overcrowding of coaches to be seen as legitimate?
Consistency – do the work, over and over again.
Generous marketing – show up online, create your own brand, generate thought leadership, create your own IP
Standout by Creating Your Coaching and Consulting Frameworks
Coaching and Consulting Frameworks
Coaching and consulting frameworks are tools for organizing information and helping others to understand the relationship between elements. Coaching and consulting frameworks can be created to serve an individual or team members.
It simplifies larger concepts and ways of working and makes them memorable and easy to repeat.
For coaches and consultants, turning the way your work and/or your foundational beliefs that you teach into a formal framework shows that you a) have been at this long enough to be a thought-leader; b) believe in what you offer; and c) are worthy of the price you charge.
The most popular coaching models include the GROW model, OSKAR model, Clear coaching model, and AOR coaching model.
The most effective coaching model for you to practice will depend upon the niche you serve. Certainly you can lean on any of these different approaches that have already been created, or you can create your own unique approach.
Types of Coaching and Consulting Frameworks
This type of framework shows how elements relate to one another. It doesn’t tell you what to do; but rather describes how elements interact with one another. It can helpful in illustrating why things happen the way they do, or compare a current situation to an aspirational situation.
A process framework shows hows how something works. It could be linear or non-linear.
Foundational Elements Frameworks
These frameworks illustrate the foundational characteristics, elements or questions that are important. Oftentimes these are layered to show relationships or level of importance amongst the elements.
Examples of frameworks
Historical frameworks that have stood the test of time
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – created by Abraham Maslow in 1924, this framework illustrates how humans relate to the world and prioritize their needs. This specific framework is used most often in psychological fields. His work was a variation of what others at the time were also doing but put a unique twist on it and become a foundational understanding for the whole world.
A more current example: SMART goals – this phrase and way of working was first coined by George T. Doran in 1981 and has since become so mainstream that we don’t give Doran the credit anymore. There are also many other variations of
Current Coaching and Consulting Frameworks
As you look for coaching and consulting frameworks, here are a couple you may recognize:
Everything DiSC was turned into a product by Wiley in the early 2000s, but was originally proposed in the 1920s by William Moulton Marston. The framework describes a person’s style of communication and pace of work.
The Enneagram dates back so far we aren’t even sure when or where it originated from, but has evolved to be a powerful framework today that describes our personality and how we interact with others.
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Inspiration or Imitation – what’s fair game in using others’ work?
It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun. Modern-day frameworks for coaches or consultants are born from past work and built upon in each iteration.
As coaches, we are often worried that we are stealing someone else’s work, and we certainly need to be careful of that. But, there is a ton of space to build upon and adapt what we already know. Perhaps you work from a framework that you love. Great. Keep doing that. But, as you do that pay attention to the points of it you don’t align with. Keep notes on the things you wish it included. You’ll start to see that you have a unique viewpoint that is different from that framework.
I’m a StoryBrand Certified Guide…one of the original ones in fact. The first couple of years that I used this framework, I stuck to the book. I bought in, hook-line-and-sinker. I was, and still am, a believer. But, over time, probably out of boredom, I started to get creative with the framework, trying new things, breaking a rule here and there. Sometimes it worked, other times it felt flat. Now, while I still lean heavily into the framework, I have my own unique take on it and can use it differently than other guides.
In this case, how might I consider creating my own framework without stealing from Storybrand?
Adapted for a specific audience: Using Story to Market Coaching Services – a framework to attract and engage coaching clients
Added elements: Story Elements plus Marketing Mediums that Result in the Best Outcomes
I want to be clear – this is gray space. We spend a lot of time talking about how to honor past professionals’ work, give credit where credit is due, and then lean into our unique perspectives. This is a conversation that we don’t take lightly and is always evolving.
Ultimately, ethical use of other people’s frameworks involves respecting their intellectual property rights and acting in good faith, with a commitment to using the framework in a way that benefits both yourself and the broader community. Using another person’s work to inspire your own is fine, as long as there are distinct difference that make your work unique.
Questions to guide your ethical use of others’ work as your own in creating your coaching and consulting frameworks
Here’s a simple check to make sure you are staying in an ethical space. When you are creating your coaching and consulting frameworks, ask yourself:
Is it legal? Are you breaking any IP laws by doing this?
Is it in line with your values and principles? Does this decision or action align with your personal and professional values and principles?
Would you be comfortable with this decision or action being made public? Would you be willing to defend your actions if they were scrutinized by others?
Have you sought out expert opinions or advice? Have you consulted with experts or sought out advice from trusted colleagues or mentors to ensure that your decision or action is ethical? It’s important to respect the rights of IP owners and to use IP in a legal and ethical manner. If you’re unsure about whether your use of IP is legal or ethical, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer or an expert in IP law.
Remember that ethics is a complex and subjective topic, and there may not always be a clear-cut answer. It’s important to approach ethical questions with an open mind, without emotions, a willingness to listen and learn, and a commitment to doing what’s right for all parties involved. The desired outcome is a clear conscious and an intentional path forward.
Intellectual property (IP)
Certainly using your coaching and consulting framework within your client engagements is ideal. You should also consider other ways you can use your framework.
Get income – new products/services and increased prices on current products/services
Create powerful content for the purpose of engagement with your current and potential clients.
Get your own unique approach in front of the right people through industry and conference keynotes and workshops, with the intent of filling your pipeline.
To better understand how you can protect your IP, let’s take a more detailed look at some definitions.
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Generally speaking, a patent provides the patent owner with the right to decide how – or whether – the invention can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.
Copyright is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings. Copyrights are legally binding when used but you can only bring a lawsuit for infringement if the copyright is registered, which can be done retroactively.
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks date back to ancient times when artisans used to put their signature or “mark” on their products. Anyone can use a ™ symbol, regardless whether or not it has been registered. This signals to the viewer that this is Intellectual Property and that the owner is willing to take action if you choose to use it without permission. This is often referred to as “claiming common law trademark rights”. Using it does not guarantee protection of the law.
A trademark that has been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and is protected by law.
Why is Creating your Own IP Important?
Elevates your brand
Adds legitimacy to your work
Allows you to charge more
Makes you unique
Establishes you as a thought-leader
Protects your work
Enables your brand to grow to more products and services
Cost to create your own IP
Content and Design development
Just need a designer – spend $500 on upwork and get what you need
Need a content and design specialist – use us! Starts at $3500 for a package that includes custom graphics, presentations, workbooks and more
As a coach/consultant, you know you will benefit from creating your own intellectual property (IP). We’ve created this LevelUp Framework to help you understand the process and give you an action plan for turning your unique coaching model into coaching and consulting frameworks.
The first question that we are often asked when considering this type of work is, “Which part of this do I do myself and what do you do for me?” The answer is up to you, but we typically say that the first two phases are on you. These are the phases that allow you to work the content you have and develop your own way of thinking about the work you do. For those who need support during these phases, we often jump in to observe workshops, offer feedback, help clients process potential content, and more. Then, we get heavily involved during phases 3-5, helping to build your IP, processing updates as you test the materials and learn from their use. The final step is helping create the marketing content that allows you to share widely.
PHASE 1: Observe
During this phase, you are learning. If you’ve been at this work for years and years, you likely already have some key observations to build on. If you are new to the field, it’s important that you give yourself time to do the hard work long enough to have real insights.
As you observe, keep track of:
What questions are being asked repeatedly?
What is your go-to-advice that seems to resonate?
What is a gap that your audience is suffering from not attending to?
When you use others’ frameworks to guide your teaching, what is working and what isn’t?
What do clients say makes you good at what you do with/for them?
PHASE 2: Test
You’ve gathered the intel and you have some ideas on how you might use it. It’s time to test it out.
First Step – is it sellable?
In order to answer this question, you need to be able to clearly describe what you are doing, the pain point it solves, and the expected outcomes. If you can do this well, and prospects are interested in spending money on it, then the answer to this question is YES!
Second Step – in what format?
You’ve got their attention. Now you need to decide what format this content is best delivered in. Is this a six month program that is best delivered in 1-to-1 coaching sessions, a half-day workshop, an online course, or a webinar? The right answer meets their needs (time, money, effort) and has impact (results).
Third Step – is it worth the effort?
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Only you can answer the question, “Is it worth it?” By evaluating the cost of development against the potential cost of goods sold, you’ll get a financial answer. You may also need to consider whether or not it aligns well enough with your business mission, the people on your team, etc…
PHASE 3: Build
Unless you have mad design skills, this is when you hire a professional to guide the creation of your coaching and consulting framework and the materials to support it.
In the marketing world, we like to tell people there are three big value propositions we can offer – cheap, fast, and good, but 99.9% of the marketing people can only give you 2. Which two do you want
Cheap and fast – go to upwork.com and hire it done.
Cheap and good – hit or miss, but you might find a local college who has a class willing to take you on as a project.
Fast and good – HIRE us! This is our lane – we work with you from beginning to end to make sure you have the most amazing graphics, presentations, workbooks, and online content you can imagine. Plus – we aren’t a one-and-done, set-it-and-forget-it shop. We stick around and help through the iteration and sharing phases to make sure you get the full bang for your buck!
PHASE 4: Iterate
Just because you built it doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Just like the testing phase, the more you sell and use it, the more you are going to learn. It might happen over weeks or maybe it will take years, but during this time, you’ll discover things that need to be updated and changed.
NOTE: If you’ve registered a copyright or trademark on your IP, changes may need to be noted and updated in your paperwork.
PHASE 5: Share
Having your own IP has two big values.
It gives you custom content to share and set you apart from others during the marketing and selling phases.
It gives you amazing value to deliver to the clients you serve.
With your complete IP, you need to develop a body of work that shares it with the world.
Writing extensive blog content on your coaching and consulting framework is your best bet for attracting organic traffic to your website. Make sure, when you do this, that you optimize your content for search engines. Not sure what this means, check out my genius friend Tina’s article, Anatomy of a High Converting Blog.
If you know your ideal audience, it will serve you well to turn your IP into keynote and workshop presentations that can be shared at the conferences they attend. In most cases, the ROI of this is fast and strong!
For many coaches, a great avenue for finding coaching clients is to offer ½-to-full day workshops. You can market these yourself and get participants one or two at a time, or you can sell them to corporations and businesses for them to fill. Not only is this a strong income stream for you, when the participants get to experience you as a facilitator, teacher and guide, they are much more likely to trust you to be their coach as well.
Self-publishing tools are a game changer. If you aren’t patient enough to find a publisher and go through the years-long process, you can simply turn your coaching and consulting framework into a book using simple online tools and resources.
Social and Email
When you create your own IP, you create countless opportunities to share it in social posts and emails. Simply break it into snackable chunks and create away!
When you are guiding coaching clients, it can be helpful to use your framework to establish desired outcomes and guide the conversation using your materials, or follow-up by sending resources after the conversation. Even a simple model can help the coaches better understand how you are going to work together. Having a framework adds to your authority and trust.
Illustrating how this coaching and consulting frameworks was used to develop one consultant’s IP
Kristin Wiersma is no stranger to coaching and consulting. She’s run her own business, worked as a consultant in a larger firm, and is now back to running her own business. Her years of working in this field with various types of organizations, a range of clients, and using a lot of different guiding models has helped her to know what works and what doesn’t. Combine this with multiple degrees, certifications, and the endless books she reads, you get a seasoned professional who has a few thoughts to share.
Plus, Kristin knows the value of having her own IP that she can stand behind.
We created her Focus Consulting Model, capturing the core elements that she coaches and teaches around.
Now, we are developing the content within each of these areas of focus so that she has a set of visuals and workbooks to guide the workshops and sessions that she leads. Here is the first model, focusing on healthy teams. As she uses this model and the corresponding workbooks to deliver workshops, she will learn what works best and we’ll iterate as needed.
Kristin is more confident in what she is delivering
Her work is easier to sell
She is charging more than ever before
She is getting more referrals than ever before
In her second year of business, her client roster is full
When you are ready to dive in and create your own coaching and consulting framework, set up a call here.