Coaching Model: PIVOT

For Coaches

A Coaching Model Created by Michaela Calhoun
(Career Coach, UNITED  STATES)


Merriam-Webster defines a pivot as “a shaft or pin on which something turns.”When I think of pivot, I see a basketball player on the court.  The player has one foot firmly planted on the court that cannot move but can look in all directions and test movements in other directions before deciding on what to do next. Coaching can be a pivot for many clients, in that coaching can be the pin on which the client turns to make the changes the client desires in his/her life.  Coaching can give clients the space to stay firmly planted while exploring and testing the waters in other directions they discover for themselves. 

Furthermore, clients can use coaching to create their own pivots to further their goals.  By pivoting in this way, clients have the opportunity to develop clarity around their situation, thoughts, feelings, ideas, behaviors, and beliefs.  This clarity can lead to a new awareness for the client, which then allows the client to see things in a new way. Therefore, being able to pivot is central to the coaching experience.

This is especially true when working with clients going through a career transition.  In this space, clients are coming to the coaching session with a multitude of thoughts as well as uncertainty, fears, and excitement to name just a few of the emotions they are experiencing.  There are also internal and external factors at play.  All of this needs to be addressed during the coaching engagement, but clients must remain firmly grounded in their goal while feeling free and safe to explore what else may be possible.  This is where my coaching model PIVOT is helpful:







Merriam-Webster defines perspective as “a mental view or prospect.”First, clients need to understand their current perspective on their situation. For most clients, this will be straightforward.  Many clients have given a lot of thought to their current perspective.  They generally understand where they are within their situation.  Also within the client’s current perspective is what the client has identified to be his/her overarching goal for the coaching engagement or even an individual session.  In the career transition space, an example of the overarching goal is the client discovering the job he/she has always wanted. The client’s goal is what the coach and the client need to understand to stay firmly grounded throughout the coaching session and coaching engagement. 

Without an understanding of the client’s current perspectives, the client could find it challenging to move forward and achieve the goals the client has identified for him/herself.  It is also important for the coach to understand the client’s current perspective to help the client move forward and achieve what he/she desires. While many clients will know their current perspective on their situation, there is still a lot to explore.  The client needs to have the space to verbalize what they are going through without judgment. Oftentimes, clients do not have this opportunity in their day-to-day lives.  Clients know the facts of their story better than anyone else, but the coach has to focus on the “who” of the client.  By shifting our focus from the client’s story to the person as a whole, the client will better understand how his/her situation is impacting him/her.  This type of work will help further inform the client’s current perspective. 


Following a thorough discussion of the client’s current perspectives, the coach and client need to partner for the client to become introspective.  Merriam-Webster defines introspective as “characterized by examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings; thoughtfully reflective.”  This is the core of the focus throughout the coaching engagement.  The client needs to turn inwards and thoughtfully reflect on his/her current perspective.  The coach and client need to partner together to explore how the client’s current perspective is serving him/her and what else may be possible.

This is where the client while being firmly rooted in his/her goal, can begin to uncover that 360-degree view of him/herself and the situation and test the waters in whatever new directions he/she uncovers. Introspection will help the client begin to increase his/her self-awareness as well as understanding his/her own motivations.  Therefore, it creates a wealth of personal knowledge for the client that may not have been discovered any other way.  Further, introspective work can help the client make connections between different situations that were not apparent before.  This creates clarity for the client and enables a client to think about achieving their long-term goals in new ways. 


As a result of the client’s introspective work, he/she will begin to uncover new ways of moving forward.  This creates variations for the client to explore.  Merriam-Webster defines variation as “the act or process of varying; the state or fact of being varied.”Merriam-Webster then defines vary as “to make a partial change in; make different in some attribute or characteristic.”In the coaching context, these variations can be new paths forward, new connections, new awareness, and/or new goals, to name a few examples.  Here, the client can continue to thoughtfully reflect on all of the work done throughout the coaching process as well as the variations discovered. 

The coach will partner with the client to explore these variations and helping the client determine which variations will best help the client move forward.  It may not be clear to the client, initially, which variation or variations are the most beneficial.  This is also where the client can test the waters in a safe space and work with the coach to think through the variations with more specificity.  Here, the coach can challenge the client to truly think about the variations with a focus on what the client needs or wants.  As is true throughout the coaching engagement, the focus must be on the “who” of the client. 


Throughout the entire coaching engagement, the coach and the client must be open to the work they are going to do together.  Merriam-Webster defines open as “characterized by ready accessibility and usually generous attitude: such as free from reserve or pretense.”  The coach needs to be open to accepting the client as he/she is without judgment and allowing the client to lead the way. 

The client needs to be open in at least two ways.  One is being open with the coach about their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, ideas, and values.  This can be challenging for a lot of people, but it is also completely understandable.  The coach needs to create a space for the client that is free of judgment and allows the client to feel safe to share things he/she may not have shared with anyone else. 

Second, the client needs to be open to the new awareness and variations uncovered throughout the coaching process.  Clients will frequently come to coaching with expectations around what he/she wants out of the coaching relationship.  It could be that the client does not get the result he/she initially expected, but something more beneficial or maybe even something he/she did not even realize he/she needed.  Therefore, the client needs to be open to whatever path the coaching process takes him/her on.


After all of the work clients put into exploring their current perspectives, being introspective, and examining the variations while being open the entire time, a client can begin to transform.  Merriam-Webster defines transformation as “an act, process, or instance of transforming or being transformed.”Merriam-Webster defines transforming as “to change in character or condition.”In my opinion, the ultimate goal in coaching is to help clients complete their own transformations, as each one defines it for themselves.  The coach must ensure their clients acknowledge the transformation for themselves and help their clients make the transformation life-long. 

Throughout the coaching engagement, a coach wants to empower their clients to help them unlock their potential, whether in work, life, or both.  A coach utilizes their skills to help the client see new possibilities and further assists the client in identifying what will work best for the client to move forward.  This occurs through the partnership established between the coach and client.  As a result, the client can create their own transformations and feel empowered to move forward. 


The PIVOT model was created to explain and encompass my coaching process, as it exists throughout the entire coaching engagement as well as each session within the coaching engagement.  It will help each client I work with understand the process and journey we are about to embark on together.  The transformation clients are looking for cannot occur without an understanding of their current perspectives first.  Next, the client needs to turn inwards to thoughtfully reflect on their current perspectives as well as exploring what else may be possible, all with an open mind.  By remaining firmly grounded in their goal, clients can pivot to explore everything in and around themselves while testing the various directions they uncover in a safe, judgment-free space. 

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