What is Coaching?
Based on a variety of concepts, models and principles drawn from the behavioral sciences, management literature, spiritual traditions and/or the arts and humanities, Coaching is the on-going professional partnership between coach and client “in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires (clients) to maximize their personal and professional potential. (It is) designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives, … improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives…(Coaching) focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management.” — The International Coach Federation (ICF)
For individuals, coaching begins with becoming clear on what you want so that how you live your life is consistent with who you really are. From there, you develop action plans and stay committed to your goals, creating excitement and fulfillment on your own terms.
For organizations, it begins with gaining clarity on the organization’s vision and mission. From there, we develop a clear actionable plan, stay on track, and generate optimism, purpose and productivity.
What do Coaches do?
Coaches are trained to listen, to provide objective observation and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to enhance the client’s self-awareness and awareness of others and their circumstances, and elicit solutions and strategies from the client directly based on what is resonant for that client. A coach truly believes that the client has the answers and knows what’s best for her/himself. As such, the coach’s job is to champion opportunities and potential through the coaching process and to provide support to encourage stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations. This is accomplished by listening for what works for that client to foster shifts in perspective, fresh insights and new frameworks for looking at opportunities and challenges. The coach may create accountability through inquiry and actionable items. The coach harnesses possibility-thinking, which energizes and inspires the client toward goal–oriented action, producing profound results for that client and ultimately those around him/her.
A coach maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s code of ethics
What does coaching ask of an individual?
The role of the individual or team, while assuming full responsibility for personal decisions and actions, is to create the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals. Full engagement in the coaching process is expected, including participating in problem solving with the coach, practicing honesty and authenticity, and being assertive with the coach to identify anything that is not working in the relationship. The individual must be prepared to stay open to possibility thinking and fresh perspectives, and to take courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations.
How is coaching delivered? What does the process look like?
Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by teleconference call) to assess the individual’s current opportunities and challenges, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action, and establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions are conducted over the telephone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one’s personally prioritized goals. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on the individual’s personal needs and preferences.
How can the success of the coaching process be measured?
Success can be measured by internal and external factors, both of which are considered when setting goals for the coaching relationship.
External factors include measurable indicators of performance and actions achieved. Ideally these are things that the individual has the ability to directly influence.
Internal factors are subjective measures of positive change inherent within the individual(s) being coached, such as shifts in thinking which inform more effective actions, and shifts in one’s emotional state which inspire greater confidence.
What are the factors that should be considered when looking at the financial investment in coaching?
Working with a coach requires both a personal commitment of time and energy as well as a financial commitment. When considering the financial commitment, the benefits of coaching should be considered an investment toward life-long satisfaction, fulfillment, and living in accordance with one’s purpose. For an organization, these benefits amount to increased performance and productivity, boosted morale and cohesiveness, and playing in alignment with a company’s mission. According to a research study, a company’s return on investment averages nearly 5.7 times the initial investment in coaching.
How does Coaching differ from Therapy? What about Consulting?
The ICF describes the differences as follows:
Therapy: Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through.
Consulting: Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.