What is coaching?
Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. The coach is not a subject expert, but rather is focused on helping the individual to discover their own potential by asking the right questions, helping them to see what they can’t see, challenging their thinking, setting goals and holding them accountable to the actions they need to take.
What's the difference between coaching and consulting?
For us, it comes down to the nature of the relationship, the activities and what's delivered at the end.
A consultant gets hired for a fixed term and completes deliverables on behalf of the company. The consultant is a problem solver, expert and is there to get the job done.
A coaching relationship is very different. The coach's role is to help other the other person reach new levels of self awareness and solve their own problems. The coaching relationship IS the deliverable.
Where it gets interesting is when you hire a consultant who is also a coach. We use coaching techniques to help our clients find the real problems to fix - and then help them fix them. This is still consulting, not coaching. But done with a coaching style.
Isn't coaching the same as mentoring?
Coaching and mentoring are similar in that they are a relationship between two people - one who is looking to learn and the other who is supporting the learning process.
The main difference is that a mentor is usually a subject matter expert in the eyes of the mentee. They are experienced, usually older with a track record and are able to accelerate learning by offering insights based on their own experiences.
Coaches work on the basis that the individual always has the answer to their own problems. They might occasionally need help to find the answer and may propose some suggestions, but this is not the central basis of the relationship.
What happens in a coaching session?
It depends on your goals for coaching. We'll spend time discussing what’s changed and your progress since the last session. We'll go for a deeper dive on a particular goal or area you want to work on, the current reality, what’s holding you back, what your options are and what actions you want to take. You may be set homework - things to observe and notice to raise your awareness between sessions, further reading or structured tasks which will help reach your goals.
What are the benefits of coaching?
A coaching relationship is an investment in yourself. It brings about improvement in your performance, helps you to understand your goals and how to reach them.
It increases your self awareness and openness to personal learning and development. You'll become more able to identify your own solutions to problems and become less frustrated and ‘triggered’ in the moment.
You'll take greater ownership and responsibility for where you are heading. Get fresh perspectives on your personal challenges which will improve your relationships at work and at home. Overall, you’ll understand yourself better, feel more confident and more in control.
Who needs coaching?
Who doesn’t? Everyone can benefit from coaching at any stage of their life or career. What’s important is that the person getting coached values and respects the process. They have enough self awareness to know that something they are doing is holding them back and they need and WANT to change.
There’s usually a trigger moment where people decide they need help from a coach. It could be a stepping up to a new role, difficult feedback, a loss of confidence, a change of circumstances or a need for a renewed sense of career direction.
What should you look for when choosing a coach?
Choosing a coach is all about finding someone you connect with personally and trust. For coaching to work, you need to have good chemistry.
The coach's listening and questioning skills should make you feel that you’re having one of the best conversations about you that you’ve ever had. They should be able to summarise and help you see your problem more clearly. They should be strong enough to challenge you and hold you accountable to what you say you will do.
Finally, look for a coach who present themselves in a way which resonates with what's important to you. Their background and experience shouldn't matter but a lot of people choose coaches who are from their industry as a short-cut to understanding their problems and building rapport.