The King’s Speech is a nicely done, easy- to-watch movie starring Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the Australian “coach” who worked with King George to overcome a stuttering speech impairment.  Being a career coach, I am love to find coaches that come from a place of caring about the client as a person while focusing on getting results for their clients.  I found such a relationship in The King’s Speech  where the coach, Lionel Logue demonstrates how working from the heart can get results were other professionals might fail.  King George in the movie worked with many therapists who tried to ‘cure’ his speech impediment or stammer, but he only found success with Lionel.  It is only when Lionel Logue inquired and genuinely cares about his client as a person, that progress is made on the speech impairment.  From the movie, I identified twelve strengths in this coaching relationship that made it possible to get results for the King.

What Is Different in the Coaching Relationship in The King’s Speech?       


Here are some of the things I observed in the movie:

  • The coach and client maintained a relationship of peers or equals in the sessions
  • Lionel never judged King George for his area of weakness nor for the pace of the client’s progress
  • King George set aside protocol and norms and shared personal stories and information with his coach. By being open and transparent, his coach is able to delve into the core of the issue and work the client to improvement
  • Both parties ended up bringing their whole, authentic beings to the relationship as well as holding heartfelt concern for each other

Six Strengths A Coach Brings to the Coaching Relationship (aka Lionel Logue)


  • Coach treats the client as a peer and insists on keeping the relationship that way
  • Coach never forces his client to do anything his client doesn’t wish to do
  • Coach has faith in his client and cheered him on
  • Coach keeps the sessions highly confidential – not even his wife knows of the arrangement
  • Coach perserveres with his client
  • Coach reaches out to understand his client as an individual and develops a program tailored to that individual.

Six Strengths A Client to the Coaching Relationship (aka King George)


  • Client has a strong motivation to make a change
  • Client is willing to do hard work to overcome his obstacle
  • Client sees a bigger benefit beyond the issues (i.e. leading his nation) and willing to push himself for that benefit
  • Client takes responsibility for his actions and the work that was his to do – including paying back the shilling lost on a bet with Lionel
  • Client perserveres and pushes through his barriers and breaking points
  • Client, against his initial desire, is open and shares his personal stories with his coach, which brings both of them to a level of understanding of what they are dealing with and what the possible triggers are for the stammering behavior.

What Benefits Does Such a Coaching Relationship Bring?


Like all great coaching relationships, the benefits extend beyond the obvious improvement in The King’s Speech.  For the King, he sees improvements in his speech, a more comfortable relationship with his wife and family, stronger relationships with those he worked with, and in this special case, benefits of clear communications for a whole nation.  Coaching can bring improvements beyond the original reason for seeking a Coaching Relationship, no matter who you are.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  It is a great example of strong leadership on the part of King George – to reach for a solution to his problems, no matter how unconventional.  He steps up to leading his country when it is not something he seeks nor desires.  He goes to great lengths to make sure he is the very best he can be in that role.  The movie is also a great example of strong coach, in the form of Lionel.  In the movie, you can see the leadership, strength, creativity, and belief in his client that Lionel, the coach, holds in the relationship. The story line is easy to follow and the ending will make anyone feel good upon leaving the theater.

If you find yourself entering a coaching relationship, take note of the strengths exhibited in the movie, The King’s Speech, as outlined above.  Make sure the chemistry between you and your coach is one of caring and accountability.  If you don’t get along with your coach, you may not find the type of success that King George is able to obtain with Lionel.  Be prepared to be vunerable and to perservere when you hit a breaking down point or barrier.  Hold your coach to being highly confidential in all that is discussed between you, unless you give expressed permission for the coach to share your story with others.

Let me hear your thoughts!  Did you experience something similar to what King George VI experiences with Lionel?  Was your coaching experience and relationship less than satisfactory?  What from your perspective makes for a great coaching relationship for you?  Would you seek coaching services again based on your experiences?  Let others learn from your experiences by commenting on this blog.

Maureen Purcell
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