What is coaching?
“Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential” – this is how coaching is defined by the International Coach Federation.
More simply put, coaching is about improving one’s well-being. The coach provides comfortable, safe and confidential setting in which you can talk freely, explore your dreams and hopes, strengths and weaknesses, wins and set-backs, set gaols and plans, experiment, be vulnerable, creative and open. The coach is there for you to ask you the right questions, listen deeply to what you say and to what you don’t say, reflect back, challenge and inspire you. The coach assists you in the process of self-discovery and aligning your actions with you really want in your life and career. The coach also holds you responsible and accountable to make sure the process of change is sustainable.
Who can benefit from coaching?
Many of us at a certain point in our lives encounter a situation or a challenge that requires from us more than we can handle at that moment. These may be – to name a few – a substantial change in our personal or professional life, a loss of a job or someone significant, the end of a relationship, a move to another country, the birth of a child, a career change. Or, we may become overwhelmed by work, family obligations, illness affecting us or close relatives or friends. Or, we may get caught in the routine of a dissatisfying job or a relationship, making us restless, but unable to clearly identify the cause for the problem and the way out of it. In such situations it may become difficult to keep a normal perspective of our life, take decisions and act on them; we may become stuck in self-perpetuating behaviour that keeps us dissatisfied and unable to develop our full potential and enjoy living.
Coaching can help individuals gain a new perspective of what is going on in their life, develop new self-awareness, explore their dreams, and set goals for a sustainable change towards a happier and more successful and fulfilling career and life.
Just like individuals, companies and teams face challenges that affect performance. Such challenges could be rapid changes in the external business environment; downsizing, restructuring, M&A or other organizational changes. Nowadays many companies are also faced with problems such as shortage of talented employees that need to be retained, employees struggling with job insecurity, coupled with increased workplace pressures to perform at higher levels than ever before. Many managers are required to use leadership skills they never had the opportunity to acquire either by training or by experience and, in addition, the requirements of their jobs are widening due to increasing demands for competitive results.
Coaching can help teams identify common vision, motivation and goals for development and success, as well as strategies for working more successfully together. Coaching can also help leaders develop necessary skills to influence, motivate and effectively lead their teams.
How coaching helps
Coaching works at many levels and the methods, the speed and the outcome of the process depend very much on your particular needs.
Irrespective of the level and depth of change and improvement you are looking for, coaching:
- increases your awareness and understanding of yourself and others
- explores what you really want, what drives you and what holds you back
- opens your mind for new opportunities
- helps you set goals that will bring you closer to what you really want in your life and career
- explores and confronts fears and other obstacles on you way
- changes your perception of yourself and others, of your surroundings and events in your life
- introduces sustainable changes in your behaviour that will bring you closer to the life you what to have and the person you what to be.
What coaching is not
Although coaching is sometimes likened to some other service professions, it is helpful to clarify that coaching is not:
Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy is the practice of spending time with a trained therapist to help diagnose and treat mental and emotional problems. The focus of psychotherapy is healing trauma, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships and most often deals with resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present. Coaching, on the other hand, is a process that is very much focused on the present and the future of the individual. Coaching supports personal and professional growth by fostering self-initiated change in pursuit of specific goals in one’s work or personal life.
Consulting – A consultant focuses on diagnosing problems and identifying, providing and sometimes implementing solutions. While coaching often includes assessments, reflecting and feedback by the coach, he or she does not advise or provide solutions. The coach works with the assumption that coachees are capable of identifying their goals and generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
Mentoring – A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counselling, and focuses instead on coachees setting and reaching their own objectives.
Training – Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the coachee, with guidance provided by the coach. Also, training usually assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching has no set curriculum and is a less linear process that is determined by the coache’s individual needs and objectives. In essence, training represents a transfer of knowledge and skills by the trainer to the trainee. Coaching involves learning through various methods and sources, but the coach does not directly train or teach the coachee.