Mutual respect and trust are at the core of a good relationship between a coach and a learner in any field of endeavour. Team leaders in professional service firms earn their respect by doing their leadership job well. That includes coaching. Their competence and achievements as professionals also play a part. It is probably true to say that they do not have to be among the best performers technically. As in sport and music, for instance, the learner is often more proficient professionally than the coach. Respect for the coach also depends on the way that the job is carried out. If learners believe that the coach is there genuinely to help rather than to show off, criticize or embarrass then respect follows. We all remember schoolteachers whom we respected and those whom we did not. Those who inspired and helped us are usually recalled with affection. We remember and despise those who were sarcastic, abusive and, in my day, gratuitously violent for just those failings. Respect for the coach is a function of the coach’s respect for the learner.
Mutual trust results in part from mutual respect. If the person being coached is unable to ask for help when needed; is uncomfortable or defensive with feedback; is unable to talk frankly about aspirations, achievements, mistakes and worries; and finds it difficult to relate on an even footing then there is insufficient trust. It takes time and effort to build trust. It is a part of the broader leadership role. It means taking a genuine interest in others and caring about them; being honest; showing appreciation; revealing your own values, aspirations, interests, concerns and mistakes; and working through problems together before they have time to fester.