I want to start this New Year with a new blog post and focus on a question that I get asked all the time – What is coaching? Many times, coaching is misunderstood as therapy, counseling, mentoring consulting and even simply as getting advice or somebody “fixing” your issues. The International Federation defines professional coaching as – “partnering with clients in a thought and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
So how is professional coaching different from other service professions? According to the ICF:
Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways.
Consulting: Individuals or organisations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and sometimes implement solutions.
Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counseling and coaching.
Coaching: Coaching supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is future focused. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow through. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks. The coaching process does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.