Most people hear the word coach and instantly think sports coach.
Some may think of a mentor they had when they first started their
careers. But what is coaching all about?
Coaching: A Definition
Its important to understand how workers are using coaching to
improve performance. According to the International Coach
Federation, Professional coaching is an ongoing professional
relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in
their lives, careers, businesses, or organizations. Through the
process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their
performance, and enhance their quality of life.
Coaching is about producing different and better results. That
makes it universally applicable for individuals and entire
organizations across all market sectors. Coaching can be used to
resolve tensions between staff members who might not see issues the
same way or have a history of conflict. In this situation, a coach
can bring aspects of mediation to the relationship so co-workers
can progress toward an amicable solution.
More often, coaching relationships are generated purely by a desire
for better performance results. You or your organization might be
feeling stuckaware that you can or must perform differently, but
unclear as to how or what that might look like. Much like the
coaches who train world-class athletes, executive and
organizational coaches challenge and support higher levels of
From senior executives to up-and-comers, people hire coaches to
learn how to set better goals for themselves, increase
self-awareness, improve performance, and develop strategies that
improve their overall quality of life. Expect a coach to ask
provocative questions, take issue with existing assumptions and
biases, and work with others to set goals and hold you accountable
Coaching vs. Consulting vs. Therapy
The coaching philosophy is based on the premise that nothing is
broken or needs to be fixed. You set the agendathe issue or topic
on which you want coaching. It is also the coaching philosophy that
you have the answers within yourself. The coachs responsibility is
to ask powerful questions, help you observe your own behavior,
offer various perspectives and options, and help you clarify your
Unlike consulting, which typically will provide you with a set of
solutions, coaches may not have had experience in your business at
all. However, many coaches have developed a niche in the
marketplace for their practice. They focus on a specific set of
issues and establish a set of core competencies on which to help
their clients. Among the many areas of specialization for coaches
are executive coaching, career coaching, corporate coaching, sales
coaching, and retirement coaching.
Coaches facilitate a deeper understanding of yourself or specific
issues. They help you develop an action plan and aid you in moving
forward with that plan. A coach rarely should (and is actually
trained not to) spend a lot of time analyzing past behaviors or
diagnosing a mental health problem. Coaching is generally more
Do You Need a Coach?
Is coaching right for you? It really depends. If you answer yes to
any of these questions, then coaching is right way to go.
- Am I looking to deepen my personal self-awareness?
- Am I looking to discover whats really important to me?
- Am I looking to improve my management and leadership talents?
A study designed by the Executive Coaching Project and CompassPoint
Nonprofit Services determined several benefits of coaching.
Leaders who participated in coaching experienced
- increased confidence in exercising leadership
- improved ability to connect with the organizations vision
- increased confidence in leading the organization toward
fulfilling the vision.
Managers and supervisors who participated in coaching experienced
- increased task completion and productivity
- improved personnel management skills
- better relationships with staff and board of directors.
Its pretty easy to want to produce better results. Its far more
difficult to translate those thoughts into sustainable action and
behaviors that truly produce better results. The good news is that
coaching can help you move from rhetoric to reality.
In your coaching relationship, you not only work through a
goal-setting process, but you also build a map of actions and
behaviors that support and enable those goals to happen. And youll
have an added set of eyes looking over your shoulder to see that
you do what you said you would.