I’ve been asked a lot “What’s coaching?” and “Why do people in the non-sports world need coaching?”
Afterall it makes sense to use a coach if you play sports like tennis, football or golf, especially when you need someone to take you to the next level in performance. Your mind probably imagines a sport coach as a middle-aged man with a cap barking orders down the touchline. But what’s a life coach, business coach or executive coach? And why do you need them?
First of all, what exactly is coaching? That’s a good question, one that’s not easy to answer because there’s no agreed definition. ICF (International Coach Federation), the most established coaching body in the world, defined it this way: ‘Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.’
Another definition which I like is from the Corporate Coach Academy, where I’m doing my coaching certification:
Coaching is a deep learning partnership with systematic steps to empower the coachee to gain courage, capabilities and commitment to achieve fulfilling goals.
In this post, we’ll look at the first three keywords which are deep learning partnership which speaks volumes. Lets look at them individually.
Deep – Think of scuba diving versus snorkelling. When I first snorkelled, I was enjoying the view of the ocean species from the surface. But when I was doing my scuba diving certification, I realized that there was so much more to see: things that I’d never see at the surface. It’s so much more rich, beautiful and rewarding, down there in the deep places. Think of depth versus breadth. Normal conversations usually take place at the surface, whereas coaching conversations aim to dive deep down to uncover hidden issues to raise awareness of underlying issues. Coaching is all about playing the ‘inner game’.
Learning – Coaching is about the learning process. A coach is a process expert, not necessarily a product expert. During the coaching process, the coachees undergo the process of discovering answers for themselves.
Partnership – A coach is not like an instructor or consultant that gives directive instructions. Instead he uses ‘non-directive’ approach and often ask powerful questions for the coachees to see the solutions for themselves. In theory that’s fine, but in practice there’s often some input from the coach. The coach is also a co-creator in the process of formulating solutions. The coach walks with the coachee in the journey of deep learning.
One useful way to differentiate coaching from therapy is this: therapy looks at the timeline of the patient from the past to the present and try to discover what’s wrong with the patient based on his history, and then find possible remedies. Coaching on the other hand, looks at the coachee’s present to the future, based on what does he want and what’s stopping him. Of course past issues of the coachee may surface during the process and is dealtwith. In essence, it’s more future-oriented to accelerate the coachee’s process of transformation and achievement.
Coaching is growing in popularity and is considered more effective than many other methods in helping people achieving their goals while removing the roadblocks.