As a coach, the questions are usually on me. But one of responses I most often get when I tell people what I do is actually a question that goes along the lines of: “I keep hearing about coaching – what is coaching anyway?” So, as this week is International Coaching Week, I thought it the ideal time to write a quick blog all about what it is, and scotch any rumours about the fact I might spend all day teaching people how to play football!
It might be helpful to start with what coaching is not, and bust some pre-conceptions right at the outset. It’s not training or teaching or advising or telling people what to do in any way. Coaching is also not therapy – although it’s true that coaching can be very therapeutic for the client, having the power to enable people to make changes in the way they think and approach issues that can be truly life-changing or career-changing.
Simply, coaching is a way of helping someone achieve a goal that will bring about an improvement to their business, career or life. I like to think of coaching as helping someone learn to do things differently by developing greater awareness about themselves and about what’s possible.
Coaching is forward-looking and always starts with a goal of some kind. The coaching goal might be something very specific that a person wants to achieve (for example launching a new business or product, saving a particular amount of money, achieving a career promotion or improving their work-life balance by reducing the amount of time spent working). Alternatively it could be about developing their effectiveness at something that will benefit their work or life (like improving their time management, delivering presentations more confidently or making decisions more easily) or it could be about improving something less tangible that will bring about a better future for them (for example improving self-confidence or reducing stress).
Whatever the goal, the aim of coaching is to develop the coachee’s thoughts about things related to their goal, so that they can achieve more in their future than they are achieving right now through the achievement of that goal.
All coaches are different and their approaches may vary. What the best coaches have in common is the ability to listen really attentively and ask powerful questions that help their clients to move their thinking and development forward. So a coaching session will typically involve a lot of questions and plenty of time for clients to explore their thoughts in answer to those questions.
Coaches also usually have a raft of tools and exercises available that they can use to help their clients stretch their thinking and learning even further. The ones they choose to use will depend on the subject matter and the specific needs and preferences of their client .
Coaches will also offer feedback, challenge your assumptions, hold you accountable for the things you said you wanted to do or achieve and help you remain motivated to achieve them.
Both the coach and the coachee bring their own personalities into the coaching, so the sessions themselves may feel very calm, considered and contemplative, or could be more energetic and creative.
Overall, whatever the style and whatever actually happens in a session, the aim is for the coach to help their clients become more self-aware and aware of the possibilities relating to the issues they want to solve and goals they want to achieve, so that they can come to the best possible conclusions about what to do for themselves.
The beauty of coaching is that it is an entirely bespoke and individual way to help someone make improvements, developments and decisions. It’s usually a very positive experience, and the changes and improvements people make can have a lasting effect on the quality of their life and career, beyond the goals they immediately achieve during the coaching programme.
If you have a decision, a change or improvement to make, whether that’s at work, or in your personal life, then coaching is often a great fit to help you do it. It’s also great for helping you get clarity about what direction you want to take in future (whether that’s your business, your career or your life in general).
I could write a list as long as your arm of the different areas that coaches may specialise in, from weight loss to leadership, financial improvement to parenting. My own specialism is working with ambitious women who want to achieve success in their business/career without giving up on a happy work-life balance.. My clients’ needs from coaching can vary considerably within this: to give you an idea, here’s just a few of the things I’m supporting women to achieve through coaching at the moment:
- Helping a working woman develop the confidence and self-belief she needs to go out and get a career promotion.
- Supporting an entrepreneur to achieve significant growth in her business while making changes to the way she works and the amount of time she spends working so she can make a big lifestyle change
- Helping an ambitious and successful professional overcome anxiety and lack of confidence at work associated with Imposter Syndrome
- Coaching a successful career-woman to make decisions about her future career and work-life balance so she can avoid the repeated burn-out she’s experienced in the past
- Supporting a first-time business owner to develop a business plan as she sets up and establishes her new business, and helping her overcome fears and develop confidence relating to that.
- Supporting a professional woman to achieve specific financial goals without working herself into the ground and abandoning her family in the process
- Helping a small business owner develop confidence in networking and presentation of herself.
If this has whetted your appetite to find out more about whether coaching might be able to help you with something you’re feeling stuck with, or might help you on the road to improving your work-life balance or developing more confidence, I’d love to hear from you. No pressure, no sales, just a chat about coaching and you. You can contact me here.