What is Coaching?

Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by teleconference call) to assess the individual’s or business’ current opportunities and challenges, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action and establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions may be conducted in person or over the telephone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one’s personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments or models to support the individual’s or business’ thinking and actions. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on needs and preferences.

  • Assessments: A variety of assessments are available to support the coaching process, depending upon the needs and circumstances of the individual or business. Assessments provide objective information that can enhance self-awareness, as well as awareness of others and their circumstances; provide a benchmark for creating coaching goals and actionable strategies; and offer a method for evaluating progress.
  • Concepts, models and principles: A variety of concepts, models and principles drawn from the behavioural sciences, management literature, spiritual traditions and/or the arts and humanities may be incorporated into the coaching conversation to increase self-awareness and awareness of others, foster shifts in perspective, promote fresh insights, provide new frameworks for looking at opportunities and challenges, and energize and inspire forward actions.
  • Appreciative approach: Coaching incorporates an appreciative approach, grounded in what’s right, what’s working, what’s wanted and what’s needed to get there. Using an appreciative approach, the coach models constructive communication skills and methods to enhance personal communication effectiveness. He or she incorporates discovery-based inquiry, proactive (as opposed to reactive) ways of managing personal opportunities and challenges, constructive framing of observations and feedback to elicit the most positive responses from others, and visions of success as contrasted with focusing on problems. The appreciative approach is simple to understand and employ, and its reach can be profound, opening up new possibilities and spurring action.

How long does a coach work with an individual?

The length of a coaching partnership varies depending on the individual’s or team’s needs and preferences. For certain types of focused coaching, three to six months of working may work. For other types of coaching, people may find it beneficial to work with a coach for a longer period. Factors that may impact the length of time include: the types of goals, the ways individuals or teams prefer to work, the frequency of coaching meetings and financial resources available to support coaching.

How do you ensure a compatible partnership?

Overall, be prepared to design the coaching partnership with the coach. For example, think of a strong partnership that you currently have in your work or life. Look at how you built that relationship and what is important to you about partnership. You will want to build those same things into a coaching relationship. Here are a few other tips:

  • Interview more than one coach to determine “what feels right” in terms of the chemistry. Coaches are accustomed to being interviewed, and an introductory conversation of this type is usually free of charge.
  • Look for stylistic similarities and differences between the coach and you and how these might support your growth as an individual or the growth of your team.
  • Discuss your goals for coaching within the context of the coach’s specialty or the coach’s preferred way of working with an individual or team
  • Talk with the coach about what to do if you ever feel things are not going well; make some agreements up front on how to handle questions or problems.
  • Remember that coaching is a partnership, so be assertive about talking with the coach about any concerns.

Within the partnership, what does the coach do? The individual?

The coach:

  • Provides objective assessment and observations that foster the individual’s or team’s self-awareness and awareness of others
  • Listens closely to fully understand the individual’s or team’s circumstances
  • Acts as a sounding board in exploring possibilities and implementing thoughtful planning and decision making
  • Champions opportunities and potential, encouraging stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations
  • Fosters shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives,
  • Challenges blind spots to illuminate new possibilities and support the creation of alternative scenarios
  • Maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s code of ethics.

The individual:

  • Creates the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals
  • Uses assessment and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others
  • Envisions personal and/or organizational success
  • Assumes full responsibility for personal decisions and actions
  • Utilizes the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives
  • Takes courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations
  • Engages big-picture thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Takes the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach and engages in effective forward actions

What does coaching ask of an individual?

To be successful, coaching asks certain things, all of which begin with intention. Additionally, clients should:

  • Focus on one’s self, the tough questions, the hard truths and one’s success.
  • Observe the behaviours and communications of others.
  • Listen to one’s intuition, assumptions, judgments, and to the way one sounds when one speaks
  • Challenge existing attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and develop new ones that serve one’s goals in a superior way
  • Leverage personal strengths and overcome limitations to develop a winning style
  • Take decisive actions, however uncomfortable and in spite of personal insecurities, to reach for the extraordinary
  • Show compassion for one’s self while learning new behaviours and experiencing setbacks, and to show that compassion for others as they do the same
  • Commit to not take one’s self so seriously, using humour to lighten and brighten any situation
  • Maintain composure in the face of disappointment and unmet expectations, avoiding emotional reactivity
  • Have the courage to reach for more than before while engaging in continual self examination without fear

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