The aim of this topic is to orient the reader to personal coaching, its many benefits and applications, different kinds of coaching and some coaching models, core skills needed by coaches, and additional resources about the profession and coaching. The topic will be useful to you whether you plan to use coaching informally on yourself, others, teams or organizations, or whether you seek to become a professional coach. The topic also will help you if you want to start a coaching service, whether it’s a new organization, expanding a current organization, or starting a new product or service.
The field of personal and professional coaching has grown rapidly in the past 15 years and, as with most fields and professions that experience this kind of growth, there are many different perspectives on coaching. Here’s a definition that perhaps most people would agree with. (There are more perspectives provided in the next section, immediately below.)
Coaching involves working in a partnership between coach and client(s) to provide structure, guidance and support for clients to:
Coaching can be especially useful to help individuals, groups and organizations to address complex problems and/or achieve significant goals and to do so in a highly individualized fashion, while learning at the same time.
Many people believe that coaching is different than training and might describe training as an expert convey certain subject matter to a student in order for the student to do a current task more effectively. Those people might add that training isn’t as much of a partnership as a coaching relationship. Many might also believe that coaching is different than consulting and might describe consulting as especially using advice to help another person, team or organization to solve a problem. Others might assert that a good consultant would use skills in training and coaching, depending on the needs of the client. (A more progressive view is that a consultant is someone in a role to guide and/or support change, but who has no direct authority to make that change happen. Thus, an advisor, trainer, facilitator or coach would be a consultant in this situation.)
Many people assert that coaching is a profession, while others assert that it is a field, that is, that coaching has not yet accomplished a standardized approach, code of ethics and credibility to be a profession. This topic in the Library alternatively refers to coaching as a profession and a field.
There is no standardized approach to a coaching program that all practitioners agree on, much like there is in medicine where standardized procedures are used for certain maladies. Rather, each coach focuses on a particular type of, and approach to, coaching that suits his/her nature and interests, and applies that approach to the types of clients that most closely matches the coach’s passions, interests and capabilities. However, the reader can get an impression of a general framework that seems common to the approaches of many coaches.
How the framework is implemented depends on the coach’s training and any particular model or school followed by the coach. Also, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of coaches and, consequently, increasing competition among them. One of the ways that coaches can differentiate each other is by how they customize their coach process to seem even more powerful and unique. The framework seems to be:
Thus, it’s likely that many coaches would have many opinions about the above rather simplified description The following links are to resources that describe a similar framework.
In contrast to a coaching program, which includes the above framework, coaching can be done in a one-time conversation. The conversation might include a small sampling of the type of support that a coach would give in each of the meetings in a coaching program. One of the hallmarks of coaching is the use of questions. (It’s important to acknowledge that the primary use of questions is not unique to coaching; consider, for example, Action Learning (developed in the 1930s or self-directed Rogerian Therapy heralded by Carl Rogers.) Here’s an example of the difference between a coaching conversation and a common chatty conversation, when trying to help someone.
Laser coaching involves one or a few short, usually concise and forward-focused coaching sessions to address an urgent and/or very specific issue. It also can be used to demonstrate the coaching process to a potential client. It’s also useful for very busy people who are reluctant to commit to a long-term program.