What is professional coaching?

The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that 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; and
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable.

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize approaches to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach provides support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that clients already have.”

How does coaching differ from other professions?

Coaching supports growth and development with an emphasis on action, accountability and follow-through.  Coaching is not therapy.  Therapy focuses on pain, dysfunction, and conflict that often relates to events that occurred in the past.  Coaching is centered on moving forward and on the future.  Coaching is not consulting.  Consultants typically determine where difficulties exist, provide solutions, and help to implement these recommendations.  Unlike consulting, coaching assumes that clients are able to generate solutions with the support of a coach.   Coaching is not training.  Training seeks to achieve learning objectives that are determined by the trainer or instructor.  Coaching does not operate with a predetermined path or curriculum.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?

Individuals and teams seek coaching for many reasons, including: enhancing results, meeting particular challenges, gaining specific knowledge, making better decisions, gaining work/life balance, leveraging strengths, preparing for/adjusting to career accelerations, or eliminating derailing behavior.

How is coaching delivered?

Coaching can be delivered face-to-face, by teleconference call, or by electronic means.  Specific coaching assignments may use one, or some combination, of these delivery methods.  Coaching work often entails the development of a coach – client relationship, use of specific coaching models, data collection or assessments, creation of action plans, and metrics designed to assess progress.

How long does a coach work with an individual?

Coaching assignments vary in duration and will be dependent on a number of factors.  This includes the client’s needs or objectives, budget, meeting frequency, breadth of work, or organizational experience.  Most coaching work is 6 to 12 months, although assignments of 3 to 6 months, or even extending beyond a year, are common and in many instances, more appropriate.

How is coaching success measured?

Measurement can occur with external indicators of performance, such as income, revenue, promotions, performance reviews, or other feedback mechanisms. Internal indicators of success can also be used.  These measures are provided by the client, and could include items such as assessment results, self awareness and relationship awareness levels, changes in thinking, behavior, and management of emotions.

For additional information on Coaching, please go the website of the International Coach Federation (www.coachfederation.org).