There is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion out there about Coaching and what it actually is. If you Wiki Life Coaching (“Life Coaching is a future-focused practice with the aim of helping clients determine and achieve personal goals”), Personal Coaching (“Personal Coaching is a relationship which is designed and defined in a relationship agreement between a client and a coach. It is based on the client’s expressed interests, goals and objectives”) or Business Coaching (“Business coaching is the practice of providing positive support and positive feedback while offering occasional advice to an individual or group in order to help them recognise ways in which they can improve the effectiveness of their business”), the explanations are nothing to be desired, as Coaching will mean many different things to many different people, and it is completely subjective.
Let me clarify.
What is Coaching?
Coaching has many definitions. I liken coaching to simply being “a structured conversation”. However, it means something specific to each one of us, whether we realise it or not, or whether we have previously given it thought or not.
Whatever Coaching means to you, here is what it is not:
- Coaching is telling a person what to do (we have friends and colleagues for that)
- Coaching is advising (we have consultants for that)
- Coaching is Mentoring (we have advisors for that)
- Coaching is Counselling (we have psychotherapists for that)
- The coach is in control (the client or “coachee” controls the process)
- The coach sets the agenda (the client calls the agenda and creates the action plans)
- Coaching is too expensive (if you are considering coaching, then you or your organisation are struggling in some form or other, so can you really afford not to employ a coach?)
- Coaching takes up too much time (Coaching is specific and follows a process. It is successful, not unlike antibiotics, when followed through to course, thereby ultimately saving time)
- Coaching is a myth! (Coaching has been around for 1000’s of years, but it’s our obsession with naming and categorising things that we suddenly find in modern language)
- Coaching is new! (In Cork, Ireland it can be seen as the equivalent to “cop on”, otherwise known as common sense. Somehow, we have traded our common sense for reality TV)
- Coaching is common sense! (Yes, but “Why do we call it common sense when hardly anyone ever uses it?”)
- Coaching is a joke! (Talk to someone who has availed of the coaching process and see if they are laughing)
- A Coach must be qualified or experienced in the area they are coaching (coaching is a process, so it works in any situation. A coach will often find their specific niche or area of expertise.)
Coaching terminology can be confusing!
Anyone can be a Coach (as anyone can be a consultant, auctioneer or advisor). Personally, I feel people who are natural or adept listeners and empathisers make great coaches (the rest of us have to study and work hard!). Thankfully, Ireland takes the coaching profession very seriously and is highly regulated. Any Coach worth their salt will belong to the regulated and accrediting International community. Coaching myths are rife, and it’s up to you to understand fully what it is you are buying into.
It would take a white paper to really explore this further, but I hope that the small (albeit tongue in cheek) list above raises some questions in your mind, and entice you to explore further.