Defining Coaching

You most likely have worked with a coach in the past. Maybe you played a sport and had a coach. Maybe you achieved a fitness goal through work with a personal trainer. These types of coaches typically work in one of two ways, you set a goal and the coach tells you specifically what to do to achieve the goal or the coach sets the goal and you collaborate on how to achieve it. The coach is the expert, the boss or sometimes both. If the athlete or client is struggling to stay motivated or has a different vision than the coach, then the relationship will be contentious and the outcome unsuccessful.

A professional change coach works from a different philosophy. The client is recognized as both the strategist and the expert in his or her own life.

You might be asking yourself, “Why, then, would I need a coach?”

Have you ever had a situation where you had a picture of something different for yourself, but that picture was never realized? New Year’s resolutions and fitness/weight goals are often a great example. Do you remember what prevented you from achieving it? Maybe it was harder than you thought or other people got in the way or you were unable to influence your point of view or you ran out of time or the goal kept evolving or your current state was too comfortable or… You get the idea. When discussing changes in pattern of behavior, people run into many obstacles that make it difficult to move from a current state to a desired future state. This is not laziness. This is the human battle between progress and stability. A professional change coach supports clients in winning the battle for change by engaging them in a process of envisioning, motivation, incremental action and celebration.

A coach and client partner to help a client achieve his or her goals.   During coaching, the coach comes with a process, a way to navigate through the client’s thinking to help bring clarity to the client.   The coach may also come with expertise that helps the client narrow his or her focus. The client comes with goals, context, an exploratory mindset and answers to questions from the coach. The client continues his or her commitment by completing actions developed in the coaching session before the next meeting.

A professional change coach has many other names, for example: life coach, wellness coach, executive coach, career coach or business coach. Each of these titles indicates a particular area of focus; however, all of these coaches help people through the process of changing patterns of behavior. If, like Coaching Beat, they are affiliated with International Coaching Federation, all of these coaches follow the core competencies of coaching as found on the ICF website.

People often confuse coaching with other supporting roles such as trainer, counselor or mentor. In addition, organizations often use the term of coaching as synonymous with performance management or discipline. The Helping Role table pictured here offers clarity around coaching as differentiated from other roles.


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