ATD Blog

Coaching: The Real Deal

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

There are tons of coaching resources out there. It’s a booming business—and it has a right to be. Studies from the last 10 years have proven that coaching can lead to positive outcomes for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Coaching in the workplace can align leaders, managers, and staff with their organization’s envisioned future and help them achieve desired results. Studies confirm that coaching leads to improvement in interpersonal relationships, productivity, teamwork, confidence, emotional intelligence, and profit. It is quite energizing to discover a process that can powerfully influence both the human and business sides of organizations. 

Certified Coaches 

There are several requirements to become a certified coach—one recognized by the International Coach Foundation. Some of these requirements include: 

  • successful completion of an accredited program
  • documented hours of paid coaching
  • completion of a Coach Knowledge Assessment. 

This journey takes several years, thousands of dollars, and tireless dedication, and that’s the way it should be. This kind of schooling, demonstrated practice, and oversight is essential for coaching to credibly present itself as a skill-based, ethically bound profession.
Informal Coaches

Then there are people who are good coaches even though they are not formally credentialed. They might have years of experience as leaders and managers and advanced degrees in different human development fields, or they may have taken coaching workshops or learned higher levels of interpersonal relations. Although they are not certified, they can take part in internal coaching programs, instruct their teams in effective coaching strategies, and demonstrate coaching behaviors.

Dialogue Is Key


So what makes a good coach—whether that coach is professionally credentialed or a learning professional who has studied and adopted a coaching mindset? Or, said another way, what makes one coaching course significantly better than another? The answer: teaching and practice in dialogue.

Dialogue is the language of coaching. It is a presence, a way of listening and questioning that enables people to share assumptions and feelings in order to create a common pool of knowledge. Using the shared knowledge pool, all parties can cut through hidden agendas, talk straight, and move toward desired future scenarios.

Any coaching program that does not teach dialogue is merely providing participants with models and empty steps. Having models and steps without dialogue techniques is like having a recipe with undefined measurements: You know to put a teaspoon of salt into the mix, but you don’t know what a teaspoon is. Not very useful.

Coaches are supposed to ask questions of their coachees to help them develop their own solutions and insights, but how should they phrase those questions to create an appropriate learning space? That’s what a masterful coaching program will show you how to do.


Become a Coach

In the ATD Coaching Certificate workshop, we cover essential coaching steps and then give you the glue—the dialogue techniques—to tie the steps together so you can prepare for and conduct effective coaching conversations.

In addition—something unique about the ATD program—we provide participants with a model within a model. After listening to practitioners struggle with trying to jam traditional coaching steps into a typical one-hour coaching session, we developed the COACH process—an easy, yet effective way to move from a desired goal to choosing specific action steps within an hour-long session. It is easy and reinforced through clear dialogue techniques.

Whatever coaching courses you take to further your learning, be sure that they contain the concepts emphasized in this narrative: dialogue and clear competencies that will help you create and participate in effective coaching conversations. To learn and experience this firsthand be sure to attend and upcoming Coaching Certificate program.

About the Author

With more than 25 years of experience and a doctorate in human resource and organization development, Dr. Virginia Bianco-Mathis is considered a leader in her field. Her background includes a core set of industry positions, extensive consulting with corporate and agency executives, and publications and presentations in the areas of organizational change, leadership development, consulting skills, executive team building and facilitation, coaching, career management, conflict and dialogue, and strategic planning.  Dr. Bianco-Mathis has held positions in human resources, strategy, and organization development at C&P Telephone, AT&T, Lockheed Martin, and The Artery Organization. Presently, she is a Professor in the School of Business, Chair of the Department of Management and Marketing, at Marymount University.  She teaches courses in organization development, team and group dynamics, leadership, consulting skills, executive coaching, and strategy. She also is a partner with the Strategic Performance Group. Her present consulting engagements include leadership development, executive coaching, strategic planning, team building, and organizational change. Current clients include AARP, Department of Agriculture, Seyfarth Law, American Society of Clinical Oncology, Phillips Corporation, MSRB, and Next Century Computing.  Dr. Bianco-Mathis has given major presentations at several international conferences, and has written numerous articles for the Washington Business Journal and a blog (“On Success”) for The Washington Post.  

About the Author

Lisa Nabors is a partner with Strategic Performance Group and is recognized by the International Coach Federation as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Ms. Nabors is a talented speaker and often makes presentations on the topic of coaching to industry and professional groups. She began coaching during her 16 years of experience as a successful, senior-level HR and training and development professional in private industry. Her passion is in optimizing individual, team, and organization performance, and her coaching clients include managers, executives, and teams in organizations such as AOL, AARP, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Nabors' coaching expertise includes gathering and feeding back data, helping clients to generate alternatives, identifying key metrics and creating action plans designed to achieve specific, measurable results. Ms. Nabors is a certified user of all Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) 360-degree feedback instruments, the BarOn EQi and EQ 360, LEI, APT 360 Instruments, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, and many customized instruments. She is an adjunct faculty member for Marymount University and the George Washington University, and she is the co-author of Leading From the Inside Out: A Coaching Model (Sage, 2002).

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