The International Coaching 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 honours 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
- Hold the client responsible and accountable
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach 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’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.
From the International Coaching Federation Website How is coaching distinct from other service professions? Professional coaching is a distinct service, which focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management. In an effort to understand what a coach is, it can be helpful to distinguish coaching from other professions that provide personal or organizational support.
- Therapy: Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through.
- Consulting: Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
- Mentoring: Mentoring, which can be thought of as guiding from one’s own experience or sharing of experience in a specific area of industry or career development, is sometimes confused with coaching. Although some coaches provide mentoring as part of their coaching, such as in mentor coaching new coaches, coaches are not typically mentors to those they coach.
- Training: Training programs are based on the acquisition of certain learning objectives as set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, the individual or team being coached with guidance provided by the coach sets them. Training also assumes a linear learning path, which coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum plan.
- Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from the traditional sports coach. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but it is the experience and knowledge of the individual or team that determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.
There are many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach, including but not limited to the following:
- There is something at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity), and it is urgent, compelling or exciting or all of the above
- There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence, or resources
- There is a desire to accelerate results
- There is a lack of clarity, and there are choices to be made
- The individual is extremely successful, and success has started to become problematic
- Work and life are out of balance, and this is creating unwanted consequences
- One has not identified his or her core strengths and how best to leverage them
Executive Leadership Coaching
Leadership coaching is an individualized process that builds a leader’s capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. Coaching is personalized, customized, and usually conducted one-on-one for a defined period of time and with a specific business purpose in mind. Initially instituted to save derailing managers, leadership coaching now typically focuses on enhancing performance for leaders at all levels. Leadership coaching helps:
- Organizations grow and expand their leadership bench
- Leaders who want to gain an edge in self-marketing and branding
- Individuals targeted as future leaders who need to enhance their skills
It is estimated that over 60% of Fortune 500 CEO’s have their own personal coaches. While formal education and training equips leaders to handle the more technical demands of their role, their personal growth and relationship skills development are better addressed by a one-on-one coaching relationship.
Candid, thoughtful feedback is critical and harder to obtain as leaders advance in their careers. Unfortunately, promising careers can derail due to blind spots in critical interpersonal and leadership competencies. This can be devastating to the individual and extremely costly to the organization/company.
At its best, coaching is a partnership relationship. Rather than the coach being “the expert” and providing answers for the client; the client is the expert in the organization and the coach helps the client to become even more of an expert. The coach typically employs a variety of methods:
- Utilize data from anonymous surveys or climate surveys to identify behaviors that can be linked with business outcomes
- Listen actively; the coach does not solve the client’s problems but guides the client to solve his or her own problems
- Help the client set priorities, anticipate and overcome potential obstacles
- Lead the client out of his or her comfort zone to explore new options
- Provide perspective based upon the coach’s own experiences
- Assist the client with goal setting, action planning
- Recommend specific books or other sources of learning
- Meet on a regular basis, often with on-the-job “homework” assignments between meetings
- Manage the confidentiality of the coaching partnership. In most cases, the official “client” is the organization who is paying the coaching invoice, yet the true “client” is the individual being coached
Reach your leadership goals by engaging your own leadership coach.
- Become the leader you want to be
- Discover and define your visions in clear detail
- Communicate your visions to attract supporters and productivity from others
- Build your team to effectively and efficiently produce the results you want
- Unleash the powers within you to reach levels you could not imagine
- Set and achieve proactive, powerful goals rather than just reacting to life
Team coaching enables a team to function as more than a sum of its parts by clarifying what the team is there to do and by improving the relationships both within the team and between the team and its external environment. Achieving this goal requires integrating a finely balanced combination of individual coaching, work on interpersonal relationships, coaching the whole team on its purpose and behaviours, building successful stakeholder interfaces, and aligning the purpose of the team with the needs of the wider organization. Team coaching is a well-blended synthesis of team facilitation, organizational consulting, organizational development, individual work, and team development work. The specific combination and approach used depends entirely on the formation of the team, what stage the team is at in its lifecycle, the organizational context in which it is nested, and the issues and challenges the team faces.
Group coaching is simply about being coached and learning in groups. The intent is still to support continuous improvement of performance. In order for any coaching to be effective, learning has to happen and that learning needs to be applied. Because we work in or with groups continually, group coaching results in learning in the context of our work. It has numerous benefits. The group of participants adds a diversity of ideas to the issue at hand. A variety of participant styles creates a more comprehensive solution. In group coaching, there tends to be more ownership by participants and less emphasis on the coach. Whether you are a department, team, division, or faculty, contact us for a customized Group Coaching Package focused on your needs and goals.