Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Professional Coach
ICF (International Coaching Federation) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
- Encourage client self-discovery
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.
How can you determine if coaching is right for you?
Since coaching is a partnership, ask yourself whether collaboration, other viewpoints, and new perspectives are valued. Also, ask yourself whether you or your business is ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes. If the answer is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way to grow and develop.
How is coaching distinct from other service professions?
Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. 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 emphases in a coaching relationship are on action, accountability, and follow through.
Consulting: Individuals or organizations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of 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, counseling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups 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 individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.
Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from sports coaching. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but their experience and knowledge of the individual or team determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.
What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?
Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity)
A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources
A desire to accelerate results
A lack of clarity with choices to be made
Success has started to become problematic
Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences
Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them
What has caused the tremendous growth in the coaching industry?
Rapid changes are taking place in the external business environment.
Downsizing, restructuring, mergers and other organizational changes have radically altered the “traditional employment contract.” Companies can no longer achieve results using traditional management approaches.
With the growing shortage of talented employees in certain industries, companies must commit to investing in individuals’ development.
The disparity between what managers were trained to do and what their jobs now require of them is widening due to increasing demands for competitive results.
People are wrestling with job insecurity and increased workplace pressures to perform at higher levels than ever before.
Companies must develop inclusive, collaborative work environments to achieve strategic business goals and to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.
Individuals who have experienced the excellent results of coaching are talking to more people about it.
People today are more open to the idea of being in charge of their own lives. Coaching helps them do just that.
In short, coaching helps individuals and companies focus on what matters most in life and business, and so the industry continues to grow.
How is coaching delivered? What does the process look like?
Assessments: A variety of assessments are available to support the coaching process, depending upon the needs and circumstances of the individual or business. Assessments provide objective information that can enhance self-awareness, as well as awareness of others and their circumstances; provide a benchmark for creating coaching goals and actionable strategies; and offer a method for evaluating progress.
Concepts, models and principles: A variety of concepts, models and principles drawn from the behavioral sciences, management literature, spiritual traditions and/or the arts and humanities may be incorporated into the coaching conversation to increase self-awareness and awareness of others, foster shifts in perspective, promote fresh insights, provide new frameworks for looking at opportunities and challenges, and energize and inspire forward actions.
Appreciative approach: Coaching incorporates an appreciative approach, grounded in what’s right, what’s working, what’s wanted and what’s needed to get there. Using an appreciative approach, the coach models constructive communication skills and methods to enhance personal communication effectiveness. He or she incorporates discovery-based inquiry, proactive (as opposed to reactive) ways of managing personal opportunities and challenges, constructive framing of observations and feedback to elicit the most positive responses from others, and visions of success as contrasted with focusing on problems. The appreciative approach is simple to understand and employ, and its reach can be profound, opening up new possibilities and spurring action.
How long does a coach work with an individual?
How do you ensure a compatible partnership?
Interview more than one coach to determine “what feels right” in terms of the chemistry. Coaches are accustomed to being interviewed, and an introductory conversation of this type is usually free of charge.
Look for stylistic similarities and differences between the coach and you and how these might support your growth as an individual or the growth of your team.
Discuss your goals for coaching within the context of the coach’s specialty or the coach’s preferred way of working with an individual or team.
Talk with the coach about what to do if you ever feel things are not going well; make some agreements up front on how to handle questions or problems.
Remember that coaching is a partnership, so be assertive about talking with the coach about any concerns.