Client First and Clear: Thoughts on being a coach and a consultant

So, what did you do at work today, dad? Whilst its getting on for 30 years since our son first asked me that question, it remains a powerful and useful question for us all at Laing Russell. What did you do? What difference did it make? What did you learn? What will you do next? The team at Laing Russell have for many years worked along the full spectrum of consulting approaches. Delivering team and individual development as “pure play” process consultants and coaches. Working collaboratively with clients to deliver critical capabilities and products. Through to responding directly with our advice and guidance based on the evidence – termed “doctor-patient” in Ed Schein’s seminal work “Process Consultation: Its role in Organisation Development.”

Laing Russell has always recognised there are many approaches to delivering value to our clients. And to that end we offer coaching, mentoring and consulting services. Recently, another member of our team has taken time to accredit and develop their capability as a coach.  This has prompted us to reflect on what we do and how we do it – what are we going to do at work, today?

Our key conclusions are to affirm our client first focus and to be clear. The beginning and the end of how we deliver value is what our client wants and needs. What our clients want and need in terms of outcomes and deliverables and what they want and need in terms of the most effective way for us to work together. Working as coach, as mentor or as executive consultant across the full range of consulting styles. Client first.

An insight from the coaching development programme is the importance of being explicitly clear and indeed keeping under active review the contract with the client. Here we mean contract in its widest sense. Contract in the classical, commercial sense with proposals etc. and perhaps more importantly contract in the sense of how we work collaboratively as organisations, as teams and as individuals.

A strong idea from one of the coaching models, Co-active Coaching, is the concept of coaching being a “designed alliance” that is in service of the client’s needs. Our insight is that this idea of a purposeful, designed alliance focused on delivering for the client should be applied to all our consulting work. Taking time to pay attention to the contract at start, throughout and on conclusion of an engagement. Making sure that the client is getting what they want, as work progress making sure that agreed outputs deliver the anticipated value and that we are working together in the right way. Flexing our approach as required, as we progress through an engagement whether as coach, mentor or consultant.

We are re-doubling our efforts to be clear and client first in our practice. To deliver on a “designed alliance” in all our work with clients. We are finding that clear contracting on the way we work either as coach, mentor or consultant is helping us build more positive, more productive partnerships.


Process Consultation: Its Role in Organizational Development (1988); Schein, E, Prentice Hall

Co-active Coaching (2018); Kimsey-House, H; Kimsey-House, K; Sandahl, P and Whitworth, L; Nicholas Brierley