Coaching is defined as “a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development.”
It is a great definition, but a key aspect of coaching is that the coach does not provide the answers (that’s consulting), but rather helps the coachee extract their own answers to problems by adept questioning techniques. They don’t seek to find answers or solutions from your past (that’s therapy).
A Google search will show a plethora of companies and persons that operate as coaches and they come in all shapes, sizes and disciplines of life: spiritual, health & wellness, financial, career, executive, relationship coaches, and the list goes on. Whilst they operate in different niches they all have one common denominator and that is, they all help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieving their personal goals.
This isn’t a new craze as coaching is something that has been around for years but under the guise of personal development. Coaching is like a professional friendship where you get help in achieving your dreams and desires. If all your life you have been told that life is not about what you want then your life coach is there to change that thought and teach you to want, and use your wants as a guide. Life coaching is not for everyone, however, as it’s best suited to those that want to achieve something and are able look forward. In essence, coaching:
- Is an opportunity to lure out a person’s internal potential rather than putting in external aims and knowledge
- It looks ahead not backwards
- It advances rather than imposes
- It reflects rather than directs
- Acts as a change facilitator in that it enables people, rather than trains them
- It is reactive and flexible as it allows for personal transition on an individual basis
- Coaching makes no assumptions – it is not judgmental, nor is it prescriptive or instructional as every person’s needs and abilities are different
- Empathy is central to the coaching process
- Good personal coaching seeks to help the other person’s understanding of himself or herself
- It is the concierge of personal development as it is tailored to your development
Coaching works as it gives you the ability to view things from the outside looking in and therefore enables you to shed new light on difficult situations. The Coach has no vested interest other than helping you through tough decisions, helping sharpen your skills and motivating you to an outcome that’s positive in the way you’ve defined it.
Coaching often takes place over an extended period of time, which means that during the process you will be constantly challenged and encouraged to work on issues that need improvement. Therefore by persistently doing better you practice good habits and the more you practice the more natural it becomes to automatically change and improve your behaviours.
The Benefits of Coaching
- You discover what you really want from life and how to achieve it
- The ability to set priorities and focus on what matters to you
- Improvement in your personal performance, specific skills or behaviour
- Overcoming self-defeating habits and insecurities
- Develop effective ways to keep on improving
- Greater ownership and responsibility
- The ability to explore and evaluate all the possibilities so that you can be sure the path you choose is the best one for you
An organisation that utilizes coaches reaps the benefits of the improved employee countenance as it:
- Allows fuller use of an individual’s talents and potential
- Demonstrates commitment to an individual and their development
- Increases organisational performance and productivity
- Motivates employees
- Facilitates the adoption of a cultural change or management style
Which Coach is right for you?
Choosing a coach is like employing someone in that you look for certain characteristics. Here’s what you should consider:
- Expertise – What areas do you require coaching support, career, life, relationship etc.? A coach may have a preferred niche but would be experienced enough to address all areas presented.
- Industry experience – Is it important that they have knowledge of your industry if wanting career or executive coaching? Remember, a good coach will close their knowledge-gap quickly through research and good lines of questioning.
- Chemistry between both parties – Do you connect? Whilst important, it must be the right chemistry given that you’re focused on achieving your coaching objectives. If you choose a coach most likely matching yourself, as you feel they’ll understand you better, you may not achieve the desired results. Focus on choosing a coach on a close enough wavelength so that comfortable rapport and mutual trust and respect are established, but not so similar or agreeable that you are hiring a personal supporter or new lifelong friend.
- Professionalism – The coach should adhere to ICF (International Coaching Federation) guidelines in that you’ll have an agreed contract and terms for working together as well as total confidentiality throughout the process.
It is the coach’s job to facilitate the relationship with you in order to come to a point where you can trust each other completely during the coaching program. Once fortified, with all the aforementioned attributes ticked, the coaching experience will become a true partnership that can continue beyond the completion of the coaching program. The result? A phenomenally rewarding partnership for both you and your coach. •