WHAT IS COACHING?
As a huge tennis fan, I’ve been avidly watching the Australian Open and pre-season tennis over the Australian summer. As I watched these professional athletes at the absolute top of their game, something struck me. They all have specialist coaches to help them refine their skills, improve their performance and develop just a little bit more. And a little bit more. As they continue to up their game and reach their highest potential.
We’re all familiar with professional sports coaches, but what about coaching for the rest of us ‘regular’ people?
Coaching first developed as a profession in the 1980’s and the industry has grown substantially in recent years. Coaching is adopted by corporations as a preferred and more effective leadership style. It’s used to develop employees and improve performance in organisations, or by individuals who want to work on some aspect of their lives – be it their relationships, health, career or business.
International Coach Federation (ICF), the world’s leading accreditation and representative body for professional coaches, defines coaching as:
” Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential”.
In the past, coaching was often employed as a way to fix flaws and poor performance. You hired a coach if an employee was under performing, or to improve weaknesses.
The truth is that coaching is now being utilised by highly successful people, when their lives are going brilliantly. Just like the elite athlete striving to become even better at their craft, coaching helps every individual develop their strengths and find greater fulfilment and success in their personal and professional lives.
WHAT COACHING IS NOT
Coaching focuses on the present – immediate issues impacting the client, whilst moving them towards defined goals, step by step. This differs to therapy or counselling, which deals with past issues still impacting the client. Generally, if you’re unable to move forward from a past situation – especially if it involves pain or trauma, you need to work with a therapist, not a coach. I’ve successfully coached clients also undergoing therapy and believe the two can work together, provided the client is ready to make changes and take action.
The second aspect that makes coaching unique is that the client is being guided to come up with their own answers, rather than being told what to do. In contrast, consulting provides expert advice to the client. Think of professional consultants – lawyers, accountants, financial planners – you go to them with a problem and pay them to provide you with specialist advice and a solution.
In coaching, the coach uses a variety of tools, questions and processes to help the client come up with their own answers. The goal is for the client to learn new skills to help them improve performance, develop and reach their full potential – now and in the future.