I’ve mentioned coaching during a few of my other articles, so I thought it was probably time to tell you a bit more about what it is and how life changing it can be. I’ve known about coaching for many years from a work perspective, but I’ve only truly discovered its full potential in the last couple of years. I confess I’m a real convert – so much so that I’ve trained to be a coach myself!

Below, I’ll explain what coaching is, before looking at what distinguishes it from some other development methods.  I’ll then outline what could happen in a coaching session, how coaching could benefit you and how to go about finding a suitable coach. I’ll finish with a few points on my own coaching niche.

 

What is coaching?

Coaching is a development method that “unlocks a person’s potential to maximize their own performance.  It is helps them to learn rather than teaching them” according to Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer of the coaching movement, in Coaching for Performance.

Coaches simply help their clients get from where they are today, to where they want to be, growing their dreams into reality and unlocking their true potential. They raise their clients’ awareness levels, and bring light to their issues, values and ambitions. They support their clients in devising action plans to enable them to reach their full potential and achieve their goals.  Coaches ensure clients retain and accept responsibility for carrying out their agreed actions.

One thing I’ve learned is that there is no standard definition of coaching, I like this article that collates 10 definitions of coaching.

 

How does it differ from other methods?

It’s probably fair to say that there are similar methods and interventions that sometimes get confused with coaching. Coaches, Mentors, Consultants and Counsellors all share certain skills, for example, but are also quite different in their approaches. I explore some similarities and differences below.

Common skills

Essentially, they are all skilled in working with people, for example, needing to be able to communicate well and to build rapport, respect and trust. They all need great listening skills to appropriately understand and interpret the situation under review. They also need good questioning skills to be able to identify and ask appropriate questions.

Mentoring v Coaching

Mentoring may focus on a specific job or task, while coaching sessions work towards a defined goal.

Mentors often work with those seeking direction from someone with experience and knowledge in a specific area. Coaches, on the other hand are experts in the coaching process, and not necessarily in the client’s area of interest.

Mentors often share their knowledge and experience, offering tips and hints. Coaches don’t offer advice or make suggestions but help clients to generate their own ideas.

Consulting v Coaching

A consultant is an expert who is called on for professional or technical advice or opinions, while coaches are experts in the process, and not necessarily in the client’s area of interest.

Consultants give recommendations and clear logical advice.  Coaches don’t offer advice or make suggestions but help clients to generate their own ideas.

Consultants are often expected to help solve problems, whilst coaches help their clients come to their own conclusions.

Counselling v Coaching

Counsellors may work with those experiencing significant levels of distress which is impacting on their everyday life. Coaches work with clients around their desire to move forward in their lives and achieve their ambitions.

Counsellors’ focus is mainly in the past, while coaching is goal centred and forward moving.

Counsellors are trained to diagnose and help client with emotional problems, the past or dysfunction, while coaches encourage and support clients to become the best they can.

 

What happens in a coaching session?

While coaching can bring amazing results, there is no standard magic formula used by all coaches!

Coaches typically work with a range of tools to help the client to understand where they are today versus where they want to be. The coach essentially listens and asks questions to help the client to better understand their goals and to generate their own solutions on how best to move forward.

An example of a popular coaching tool is GROW. This is a simple and effective model to support a client to get from where they are now to where they want to be. It can be used in a variety of coaching contexts, including personal situations, performance, team, corporate coaching etc.

Simply put, it’s a framework for identifying goals, exploring reality, looking at options and securing commitment. It is made up of the following stages, that the coach will walk through in each session:

G – GOALS. What do you want to happen?

R –  REALITY. What is happening now?

O –  OPTIONS. What could you do?

W – WILL, Wrap-up, Way forward What will you commit to?

There are many other models and tools that coaches may choose to use with their clients, depending preferences and needs of both.

 

How could coaching help you?

We’ve seen above that coaching helps clients set goals and then work to achieve them, understanding where they are now and how to bridge the gap.

Goals can be anything the client wants to work towards including Having (I want to own a new car), Being (I want to be happy), Doing (I want to take up a new activity) and Performance (I want to run the marathon in under 4 hours) type goals.

6 reasons why coaching could help you include:

  • Gives you insights into yourself – coaching helps to raise the client’s self-awareness, including their values, beliefs, strengths, the language they use
  • Stimulates ideas you’d not previously thought of – coaching can challenge clients to reach deep into their unconscious and often surprise themselves
  • Gives you a stronger sense of belief and self-confidence – by helping to focus on strengths, prior successes and small wins towards bigger goals
  • Makes you more accountable – clients are ultimately in charge of taking the actions, but the coach holds them accountable
  • Saves you time and gets you faster results – much more direct and results oriented than working on your own

 

How could I find a suitable coach?

Thanks to the success and increasing popularity of coaching, coaches are now widely available. It really depends what you are looking for.

Generalist v niche – some coaches provide more general life coaching, while others carve out niches for themselves to appeal to clients in a specific field.

Face to face v phone v skype – coaching has traditionally been done face to face i.e. a conversation between two people, but can also easily be done via phone or using technology such as Skype. Depending on what you’re looking for you may want someone local to you, or you could have a coach in a different town, or even in a different country.

Marketing

Many coaches find clients by referrals, but most also have websites these days as well as advertising through Facebook. You could do a Google search of coaches near you, or you could look up on a coaching directory such as below:

Life Coach Directory

Coach Federation

 

Blue Diamond 

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that my coaching specialism is around the topics and transitions covered by the Blue Diamond blog. I empower mid-lifers to take control of their working lives.

To find out more about Blue Diamond  – check out my services here.

 

Wrap-up

Coaching brings significant benefits to many people. It has certainly enabled me to achieve many of my own goals over the past 24 months and I will continue to use a coach to support and empower me along my own journey. I’m keen to support you on your journeys too, through coaching as well as through the Blue Diamond blog.

 

Thank you for reading.

Adapted from article first published on Age Life Balance on 22nd November 2017.