What is coaching?
Coaching is still a relatively nascent discipline and there are numerous approaches, methodologies, and types of coaches out there.
My preferred definition of coaching is as a powerful partnership between you and your coach that helps you focus, become more effective, and realize your visions and goals.
With a Professional Coach, you can develop the tools and gain the support to remove obstacles and facilitate the changes you want to see in your life.
As well as being a coach, I also work with a coach. It’s been a huge contributor in helping to clarify my thinking, see new ways of doing things, and make genuine progress in my life and work. And I get to learn new coaching skills too.
Is coaching like therapy? Or is it similar to consulting?
Coaching is related to both these disciplines, but there are some clear differences.
This diagram helps explain the differences and similarities between coaching and other related practices like consulting and therapy.
Note: this diagram for Harvard Business Review looks at coaching through the lens of business. There are other areas where coaching is useful too, although business is a popular use case
What are the different types of coaching?
You may have seen a few different types on offer – from life coaching to career coaching and leadership coaching. As the coaching industry is largely unregulated there’s nothing to stop just about any type of coaching being provided – this means there are all kinds of flavors and niches on offer, but as with many things it’s a case of a prospective customer/client being vigilant and taking steps to understand what they need and what they’re committing to.
Most good coaches will likely tap into deeper agendas around a particular topic, so while a focus may be on say careers, you shouldn’t be surprised if there are aspects of your personal or social life that come up in coaching sessions.
My particular focus is on the world of work, so I tend to focus on careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship as primary topics, but inevitably ‘life’ comes up regularly too 🙂
What the reasons to work with a coach?
There are many, and again it depends on what you’re looking to get coaching on, but here are a few of the reasons my clients work with me:
- focus your thinking
- discover and connect with your core values and passions
- create more balance in your life
- make a transition or pivot in your career
- focus your energy to finish or plan a project
- launch or grow a new venture
- develop and increase your leadership skills
- set clear goals and build structures to help achieve them
- enjoy life more
How can I get the most out of coaching?
- Find the coach who feels like the best fit for you. It’s worth speaking to a few – most coaches (including me) will offer a free initial call to get acquainted. The personal fit between you and your coach is so important – take the time to have that initial conversation before committing.
- During your first coaching session (likely a longer discovery session), set a small number of
3-monthgoals (maximum 3) that are worth accomplishing.
- Make the most of your coaching time. Tell your coach what results you want and your coach will help you make it happen. However, it’s important to note that your coach can’t do the work for you. The progress to the goals you want to achieve will come about through your own work.
Also,don’t be afraid to tell your coach if a particular approach isn’t working for you – the coach’s role is to ensure you get the results you want as a client.
- Use the time between sessions to work on homework assignments and to deepen any new awarenesses you gain from a session. Share what you are learning about yourself and what changes are happening for you with the important people in your life. Provide updates to your coach (and any friends & family you want to bring along on the journey) on a weekly basis if you can – accountability is a powerful thing.
What do you do as a coach?
- Listen to you openly and actively
- Reflect/mirror back to you
- Offer different perspectives
- Provide structure
- Ask powerful and probing questions
- Assist in setting goals, planning and strategizing
- Hold you accountable for what you want to achieve
- Trust you to make your own decisions
- Have your best interests at heart
- Tell the truth
- Believe in you
What do you not do?
- Do your work for you
- Judge you
- Give you legal or financial advice
- Take responsibility for you or your actions
Where can I find out more?
Here are a few coaching resources I’ve found useful:
Ed Batista, a coach based in San Francisco who also teaches at Stanford University. Ed’s blog posts and slide decks are well worth checking out.
Conscious Business by Fred Kofman – former coach at LinkedIn
What don't you do?
Occasionally I work with clients in industries and circumstances other than those mentioned above, but I prefer to specialize.
I only work with clients who are prepared to invest into their own growth and development, approach the coaching partnership with a growth mindset, and are ready to put in the time and effort to work towards the goals they set out.
Coaching sessions are often hugely enjoyable and rewarding, but they also bring up some thought-provoking and challenging topics that require hard work to successfully tackle.
If your needs fall outside of the remit outlined on this page I do still encourage you to get in touch as I’m happy to recommend you some other excellent coaches to connect with.
Why do you do this work?
I’ve been doing this work for almost as long as I can remember, starting with coaching my brother’s football (soccer) team when I was 13.
It’s followed me throughout my career: the greatest pride I took from being a company founder was being able to provide a platform for a group of talented people to build their creative careers. I still love being able to cheer them on from the sidelines today.
But frankly I used to think the concept of ‘coaching’ was a bit weird – why would anyone need this outside of a sports team?
As I adopted more of a growth mindset in various areas of my life I realized there were so many things to explore and learn – about the world, about other people, and about myself.
I started to look at all the things I didn’t know rather than what I did.
Coupling that curiosity with an interest in what enabled successful people to do what they did led me towards what I do now (and yup you guessed it, a significant factor for nearly all these people was coaching).
Over the past 4 years, I’ve more formally built my skill set in this field via an intensive ICF-accredited coaching certification, plus lots of facilitation, mentoring, learning design, and creative and entrepreneurial endeavors.
I’ve also experienced the successes, failures and valuable learnings that inevitably come with putting yourself out there and doing something new, so I’m well positioned to work with clients who are entrepreneurs or growing into leadership positions.