One of the fastest-growing fields of the last 10 years has been Life Coaching. People hire personal coaches to help them in their businesses, careers, personal lives, and every other imaginable area of life that one could possibly care about.

Now, I’m a strong believer in coaching. The best performers almost always have coaches. Coaching makes sense. Coaching works.

But I have a problem with what these life coaches call “coaching.”

For the most part, these people are not coaches. What they are are facilitators.


The Coach

Coaching requires expertise and extensive experience in the topic area. (I’ve yet to meet an expert in Life.)

Great coaches will use every tactic and strategy in their psychological toolbox to move their charge forward. This includes pushing, prodding, irritating, and any other method necessary to move the student out of his or her comfort zone. World-class coaches don’t care if you like them. Their job is to move you from where you are to where you want to be. Their coaching philosophy is, “whatever it takes.” Most world-class coaches are bold and aggressive by nature.


The Facilitator

The facilitator may or may not have any expertise in the given topic area. The facilitator’s primary purpose is to ask questions and facilitate the self-discovery process.

Facilitators don’t move people forward; they help their students move themselves forward. Their questions are designed to make students think through their habits, actions and behaviors.

This is exactly what most “life coaches” do. Many of them do it well, but make no mistake: facilitating is not coaching.


The Networker

Every networker needs to be both a facilitator and a coach.

As the leader of your network, it’s critical that you learn to make the distinction between these two skills. Most life coaches don’t know the difference, and that’s why they get limited results.

Now, don’t get me wrong: this is not to say that what they do isn’t valuable. On the contrary, facilitating the self-discovery process is a great skill and one every leader should master. It requires knowledge, persistence, and most of all, patience. Over time, skilled facilitators become valuable allies to their clients. Students are steadily guided to reach their own conclusions and solve their own problems. It’s a process that allows people to grow under their own power.


Ten Distinctions Between Coaching and Facilitating

1. Coaches are aggressive. Facilitators are passive.

2. Coaches push for progress. Facilitators create an atmosphere where progress can be discovered.

3. Coaches don’t care if students like them. Facilitators must develop a personal relationship with their students in order to succeed.

4. Coaches often confront. Facilitators rarely confront.

5. Coaches are topical experts. Facilitators are experts in facilitating.

6. Coaches challenge. Facilitators suggest.

7. Coaches demand action. Facilitators ask permission.

8. Coaches want results. Facilitators want “buy-in.”

9. Coaches tap emotional motivators. Facilitators uncover emotional

10. Coaches are laser-focused on results. Facilitators are laser-focused on process.


To be all the upline leader you can be, I recommend you become a world-class coach and a masterful facilitator. The skill is knowing when to use which competency. Generally, the more success the distributor has experienced, the more you want to coach and not just facilitate.

Successful people tend to be much tougher mentally than unsuccessful people and those just getting started. Champions are used to being coached; they are as “mentally unbreakable.” These people can be pushed, prodded, and irritated relentlessly, and will come back stronger than ever.

Less confident and successful students are much more receptive to facilitation. Coaching often demotivates and scares them. These people need to get a few victories under their belts before you begin the coaching process.

Below are examples of coaching questions you can use with your most successful people, and facilitating questions you can use with your new people.


Five World-Class Coaching Questions

1. Are your current habits, actions and behaviors congruent with the size and scope of your vision?

2. Is achieving the next pin level impossible—or just impossible for you?

3. If you already know everything I’m trying to teach you, why aren’t you further ahead?

4. Are you a visionary—or a daydreamer?

5. Are you emotionally addicted to the approval of other people?


Five Masterful Facilitation Questions

1. If you could wave a magic wand and have whatever you wished for in any area of your life, what would it be?

2. If you could design your perfect lifestyle, day-in and day-out, what would it look like?

3. How would you change your life if you received five million dollars tax-free?

4. What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?

5. Are your habits, actions and behaviors congruent with the vision you have for your life?


Do you clearly see the distinction? Now you can structure your role as a leader to meet the needs of your group. As their confidence and competence grows, slowly move them from facilitation to coaching. Not only will this help them develop, it will teach them the correct method of leading their own organization.


STEVE SIEBOLD is co-founder
of the Gove-Siebold Group, a training
organization that helps networkers develop world-class
communication skills.