ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaches respect the person being coached as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole.
The coach’s responsibility is to :
- Explore, discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve.
- Encourage the client to develop self-awareness and self-discovery.
- Help bring about solutions and strategies.
- Hold the client responsible and accountable.
This process helps clients improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.
To decide whether you or your company could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to achieve through coaching. When an individual or business has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.
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.
Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change.
In therapy the focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that limit an individual’s emotional functioning in the present. The objective is generally to improve overall psychological functioning, and help the person deal 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 outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success or fulfilment. Coaching is future focused.
While emotions and feelings are also an important part of coaching, the main focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving goals in one’s work or personal life. In coaching, the emphases are on action, responsibility and following through.
An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including :
- A challenge, goal or new opportunity is at stake.
- In terms of skills, knowledge, resources, motivation or confidence there is a gap.
- A desire to improve collaboration.
- A lack of clarity with decision to be made and the direction to take, feeling stuck.
- Work and life are out of balance.
- Difficulty dealing with stress and difficult personalities.
- Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them.
Coaching begins with a telephone interview to assess the individual’s or business’ current situation and challenges, identify priorities for action and establish desired outcomes and goals. Subsequent coaching sessions may be conducted in person or over the telephone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between coaching sessions, it’s possible that the coach asks the individual to complete specific actions that facilitates the achievement of the desired outcomes and goals decided. The duration of the coaching varies depending on the needs of the person.
- Assessments : A variety of assessments (such as MBTI) are available to support the coaching process, depending upon the needs of the individual or business. Assessments provide information that can enhance self-awareness, as well as awareness of others and also provide a basis for creating coaching goals and strategies. They also offer a method for evaluating progress.
- Concepts, models and principles : A variety of concepts drawn from the behavioral sciences, management literature and the humanities may be incorporated into the coaching to increase self-awareness and awareness of others, facilitate changes in perspective, promote new insights and provide new ways of looking at challenges.
- 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 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 length of a coaching varies depending on the individual’s or team’s needs and preferences.
For certain types of coaching, three to six months of working may work. For other types of coaching, people may find it useful to work with a coach for a longer period.
Factors that may impact the length of time include : the types of goals, the ways individuals or teams prefer to work, the frequency of coaching meetings and financial resources available to support coaching.
The coach :
- Provides objective assessment and observations that foster the individual’s or team’s self-awareness and awareness of others.
- Listens closely to fully understand the individual’s or team’s circumstances.
- Acts as a sounding board in exploring possibilities and implementing thoughtful planning and decision making.
- Points out opportunities and encourages the individual or team to unlock their potential, as long as it is aligned to their personal strengths and goals .
- Facilitates shifts in thinking that enable new insight and perspectives.
- Challenges blind spots to illuminate new possibilities and support the creation of alternative scenarios.
- Maintains professional boundaries in the coaching, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s Code of ethics.
The individual :
- Creates the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals.
- Uses assessment and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others.
- Assumes full responsibility for personal decisions and actions.
- Draws from the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives.
- Takes courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations.
- Takes the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach and engages in effective forward actions.
Success can be measured either by external or internal indicators of performance. Ideally, both are incorporated.
Examples of external measures include achievement of coaching goals established at the outset of the coaching, obtaining a promotion, performance feedback that is obtained from direct reports, colleagues, the manager, personal and/or business performance data (e.g., productivity, efficiency measures). The external measures selected should be things the individual is already measuring and has some ability to directly influence.
Examples of internal measures include self-validating assessments that can be administered during the coaching process, changes in the individual’s self-awareness and awareness of others, shifts in thinking that create more effective actions, and shifts in one’s emotional state that inspire confidence.