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What is Coaching?



Frequently during my discussions with people, friends, and colleagues, I’ve noticed that many do not understand what is coaching all about.


The word coaching gained popularity recently to the extent of being misused. Many professionals market their profession and skills by adding the word “coaching” or “coach” to describe a service they provide.


Shedding more light on coaching will be beneficial for both the coaching profession and people interested to learn more about coaching.


Driving change

Coaching has a major impact on people’s life. It helps people to move resistance and barriers which are self-imposed. It empowers people to take action and get results whilst simplifying the way forward through ideas, actionable steps, and possibilities.


Coaching provides short term and long-term benefits; it is an important skill in any organization to be mastered by trainers, organizational development and human resource professionals. Coaching is the art and practice of helping others in reaching their desired goals and propelling employees’ performance today. It is also a pillar for building organizations’ skills, boosting organizations’ effectiveness and future success.


Unfortunately, coaching is not used and explored in most organizations. A reason could be that it means many things to people such as conversations that helps, a conversation between manager and subordinate, advice, encouragement or some counseling.

Coaching focusses on helping a “coachee” (person receiving the coaching) to move towards his/her goal. However, there is a misconception, most of what people think of “coaching” is not. Even though conversations between the manager and subordinates are useful, however, not all useful conversations are regarded as coaching.


A coach usually encourages a “coachee”, nevertheless, the encouragement is not coaching by itself. Moreover, advice is not considered as coaching since the advice originates from the advice-giver; it carries the giver’s own perspective rather than the “coachee’s” perspective.


The general discussions and communications convey information and sometimes ignite actions. However, the active involvement of the “coachee” is a prerequisite for an interaction to be considered as coaching. In an organizational set-up corrective actions are based on the manager’s wants which are not necessarily based on the goals of the “coachee”, thus, do not qualify as coaching.


A Service-oriented practice

Coaching is focused on the desires and goals of the “coachee”. It ignites ideas, thoughts and a call to action to be undertaken by the “coachee”. Being a service-oriented practice, coaching propels the “coachee” moving his/her goal forward whilst the coach uses his craft of deep listening, presence and questioning skills. It is the art of knowing what to say, when to say and how to stay; the art of dancing in the moment.


Coaches enable the “coachee” to take action. However, the coach is not the performer and the ownership of taking action lays with the “coachee”. The coach's role is to help the “coachee” to achieve success. He/she is the helping hand caring and invested in the coachee’s success.


Definitions of coaching

Few definitions from experts in the coaching field are below:


· “A professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team that support the achievement of extraordinary results, based on goals set by the individual or team.” (ICF)


· “Unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to

learn rather than teaching them.” (Whitmore)


· “A collaborative, solution-focused, result-oriented and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and person growth of the coachee.” (Grant)


· “The art of facilitating the performance, learning, and development of another.” (Downey)


· “Coaching is directly concerned with immediate improvement of performance and development of skills by a form of tutoring or instruction.” (Parsloe)


· “Coaching is about developing a person’s skills and knowledge so that their job performance improves, hopefully leading to the achievement of organizational objectives. It targets high-performance improvement at work, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s private life. It usually lasts for a short period and focusses on specific skills and goals” (CIPD)


· “Co-active coaching is a “powerful alliance designed to forward and enhance a lifelong process of human learning, effectiveness and fulfillment.” (Whitworth)


· “Coaching is about enabling individuals to make conscious decisions and empowering them to become leaders in their own lives.” (Wise)


Which definitions resonate with you?

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