During coach training participants practice their coaching. Often an inherent part of the practice coaching involves asking the client what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. It means the client defines specifically the what and how, which in turn supports follow through.
This is beneficial for clients because they are committing to action steps and have an accountability partner they will report back to on outcomes.
Coaching is often valuable for brainstorming and research shows that coaches are often engaged to serve as a sounding board (Harvard Business Review said 26% of the time). This means the purpose of the coaching is the thinking, exploring, reflecting, and learning. This benefits the client because they gain awareness, clarify possibilities, and enhance their decision making.
So, how important are action steps? That depends! For some clients it makes the difference between staying stuck and moving forward. For other clients it clouds their thinking and gets in the way of their work.
As a client be clear on what works for you and share that with your coach. As a coach, explore how you will partner with your client in the coaching relationship and support the process or processes that move them forward.