What is Coaching?

 Sai Blackbyrn/ 4th January 2022

Coaching is a process of learning wherein an individual takes guidance and support from an experienced person (called a coach) and seeks to maximize their potential. The objective of coaching is to help a client achieve their goals; both personal and work-related through a series of training sessions. Nowadays, there is a greater awareness of self-improvement and people are eager to develop essential life skills. Coaching enables a person to learn from the experts in the field in a structured and efficient manner. 

Coaching is important as it prepares an individual for self-accountability. Coaching also empowers a person who is seeking professional development and assistance. In this process, an individual is guided towards discovering their innate potential by themselves. The coach merely makes suggestions and dictates experiences for their benefit.

The primary purpose of coaching is to maximise a person’s potential and productivity. This is done by helping individuals inculcate healthy financial/physical/emotional habits into their agendas. During the beginning of the coaching process, the client sets out certain objectives and lists down their expectations from the experience. In the course of this process, the coach aims to achieve these goals and satisfy expectations.

Coaching has numerous benefits; encouraging a greater sense of responsibility, promoting effective communication, empowering people with decision-making skills and improving their productivity and work performance. Like every other activity, the concept of coaching is built upon certain fundamental principles and a good coach ensures that these rules are followed dutifully.

What is the History of Coaching?

The father of professional life coaching, Thomas J. Leonard, introduced the concept in 1992, when he introduced the Coach U Program. He defines a coach as a partner in achieving an individual’s personal goals, their trainer in communication and life skills and a beacon during stormy times. 

The word coaching comes from the English word ‘carriage’ which in turn is taken from the French ‘coche’ or the German ‘klatsch’. The origin of these words lies in the Hungarian village called ‘kocs,’ where carriages were first manufactured. In essence, the word implies that a coach “carries” their subjects through obstacles and challenges by providing educated and rational advice. 

While the word ‘coaching’ was first used by Oxford University in 1830, in reference to an instructor; the word quickly gained popularity in the sporting arena. By the mid-1960s, coaching was regularly used in sports.

One of the first executive coaches in the world, John Whitmore also defined coaching in his book ‘Coaching for Performance’ as a process for “unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” The book was released in the same year that the Coach U program was launched.

What is the Purpose of Coaching?

The purpose of coaching is different for different coaching methods. Depending on the coach’s style of coaching and the pre-existing knowledge of the audience, the purpose of a coaching session changes. An individual may go for a coaching program to learn the basics of a subject and to get some expert advice from the coach, while another may be looking for a long-term association to reach that level of expertise themselves.

For example, while the autocratic coaching style is suitable for amateur participants whose purpose of undertaking a coaching program is to learn the basics; the holistic coaching approach is mainly practised among experienced participants who are merely looking for advice and suggestions. Hence, coaching styles can be adapted depending on the pre-existing knowledge and skills of participants. 

Prima facie, the purpose of coaching is simple; it helps an individual unlock their full potential by educating them on a certain subject. A coach provides a client with support and guidance that directly affects their performance and mindset. Coaching aims to stimulate a person’s innate learning capacity by correcting past mistakes and formulating future courses of action.

When a person is being coached, they are not only taught more about a subject, but are also empowered to make their own decisions and recognise complete responsibility for their actions. This helps in building confidence and self-belief among individuals.

What are the Benefits of Coaching?

The benefits of coaching are self-motivation, mindset development and perspective learning. However, the primary benefit of coaching is that it gives an individual the opportunity to establish objectives and map out a plan of action towards achieving these objectives. 

It also keeps an individual immersed in their field of interest as a coach continues to educate them with personal feedback and wisdom. This keeps the person engaged and productive, boosting their personal and professional development.

The most important benefit of the coaching process is the fact that it remains to be a safe space for clients to learn and explore opportunities outside their comfort zone. 

A good coach offers a supportive environment for the learner and helps them achieve their full potential by extending support and encouragement and avoiding judgement. During the coaching process, an individual learns of their strengths and how to use them while also becoming self-aware and working on their flaws.

What does a Coach Do?

A coach will support and guide you in life by unlocking your potential and helping you break free from the limitations of your own mindset. A coach encourages you to learn, grow and achieve your goals through self-motivation and accountability. The following constitute a coach’s primary duties – 

  1. Motivating and inspiring your clients by understanding their key influences.
  2. Getting individuals to focus on their goals by encouraging engagement and building action plans.
  3. Providing a safe space for people to express their vulnerabilities and helping them overcome them.
  4. Making people more self-aware and touching upon their shortcomings to prevent future issues. 

What can a Coach Help With?

A coach can help people with several personal and professional issues. Generally, individuals struggle with positive guidance, shyness, getting out of their comfort zone and decision-making skills. People either succumb to the status quo or bring in changes impulsively and under pressure. A coach prevents that from happening by providing them with a proper forum to address the feelings and reasoning behind certain decisions. Overall, a coach is an expert team player who helps you learn and grow at your own pace.

What Qualities Should You Look For In a Coach?

Coaches need a wealth of experience and a diversified skill set to help people in all scenarios possible. This is why there are certain qualities that every coach must possess. If you’re looking for a coach to help you achieve your goals, consider the following qualities –

  1. Understanding 

A coach’s primary duty is to help a client, which is why they must be understanding of their clients’ feelings and thoughts. A coach needs to offer insights into the client’s problems but it is also important that it is provided gently and positively whilst keeping in mind the client’s goals and objectives.

  1. Passion

If a coach doesn’t possess the passion and drive to help people out of their problems, it is not a good idea to partner with them. Remember, a coach is supposed to be a player on your team and if they are unwilling to learn more about your goals and aspirations; they are not the one for you. A good and successful coach pays great attention to their client’s progress and passionately tries to help them level up!

  1. Integrity

A good coach helps you get amazing results. A great coach helps you do the same without putting you through an extremely stressful and toxic counselling environment. You should not have to let go of your peace and mental health to achieve your objectives. A coach with integrity will help you rise without compromising his morals and your physical and mental health. 

  1. Challenging

While a good coach supports your goals and respects your boundaries, it is also important that they must give you regular challenges. This does not mean that you should have to put up with extravagant or unrealistic expectations, but merely that you get out of your comfort zone and experiment with new things to achieve your goals.

How To Find a Successful Coach?

Finding a successful coach is not a difficult task in today’s fast-paced, social media ruled world. A simple google search will yield hundreds of names. But how do you truly know whether a coach’s the right fit for you? Researching is the answer.

There are many qualities that good coaches have – communication skills, empathy, passion and understanding, but what distinguishes a successful coach from the rest; is experience. It is this experience that leads the coaches to possess these qualities in the first place. A coach that has worked with several successful clients in the past is definitely better for your goals. Someone that is full of innovative ideas and is flexible when it comes to your needs would make a perfect coach. 

If you’re looking for successful coaches with genuine client testimonials for your needs or just want to learn more about their work, check out this guide on the best executive coaches.

How Much Does a Coach Cost?

A decent life coach will cost you an estimated US $60,000-$75,000 a year.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), life coaches are under the category of educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors, earning an estimated average of $57,040 a year. The range of their salary is between $34,380 to $96,090 a year during different points in their careers.

Every coach offers a unique set of skills and experience, which is why it is almost impossible to predict how much a coach will cost you. There are lots of different coaching varieties as well. You might be looking for a life coach for a complete holistic revamping of your lifestyle, or a dating coach to improve your love life, perhaps an executive coach to get your business back on track? As we said, different coaches provide different services and it is essential to understand just how much you’re asking from your coach. Find out how to charge for your coaching services here. 

Are there Any Free Coaching Services? 

Yes, there are several free coaching services. A lot of popular coaches provide no-cost coaching resources like videos, lectures and motivational books on a variety of social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. These pieces of digital advice are especially helpful for people who cannot afford personal coaching. However, they are not likely to yield significant results as they’re created for a general, wider audience with no room for personalisation. 

While creating such content takes a lot of time and effort, it is not entirely under the definition of ‘coaching’ as there is no interpersonal interaction between the coach and the audience. Since coaching involves personal interaction, regular feedback, progress monitoring and flexible schedules, it is impossible to be done for free. This is why a personalised coaching experience that is carefully tailored to fit your needs and wants requires you to invest time and money.

What is Coaching Certification?

A coaching certification program requires you to complete a set of instructions that measure your understanding of certain core competencies set up by an accrediting agency. Once you’ve completed the program, you’re granted a coaching certificate that makes you a certified coach.

Coaching doesn’t require a certain educational background.. Any individual with the right qualities can become a coach. However, if you want to be an executive or business coach, having a degree in business might help. Overall, the coaching industry is open to all. This is why coaches tend to differentiate themselves with coaching certifications. Among the most popular certifications are the iPEC coaching certification, accredited by the ICF (the governing body and largest coaching association globally) and the Institute for Life Coach Training Professional Certification (the most extensive coaching program in the industry).

Many of the accredited coaching certifications are priced between US $1000-$3000. However, a lot of coaches prefer getting multiple certifications or assign their money to other coaching resources. Becoming a coach now costs anywhere upwards of US $5000, so we can safely say that certification is a pricey affair. 

Even though certifications aren’t necessary, they do possess a lot of benefits. A coaching certification provides you with useful tools and proven techniques to tackle the challenges in your coaching career. If you’re just starting out, getting a coaching certification is a good way to establish your image as a competent coach. Since your clients will be expecting genuine insight and wisdom from you, the requirement of a coaching certification would be on their list. And the most important benefit of all? You’ll get to learn more about being a coach!

What are the Differences Between Coaching, Teaching, Mentoring and Counselling?

The words teaching, mentoring, coaching and counselling are often used interchangeably but have major differences. Teaching is perhaps the most commonly used method of imparting education. A teacher is an ‘expert’ that imparts knowledge to her pupils through a comprehensive process designed to provide a learner with everything they need. 

Mentoring falls somewhere between teaching and coaching as a mentor guides the mentee through their journey but doesn’t possess a formal teaching role in their lives. A mentor is also an expert in their area but doesn’t offer a course curriculum. Instead, a mentor offers advice and guidance on how to achieve goals.

A coach has many similarities with a mentor and a teacher, except that the role of a coach is more holistic. Like a teacher, a coach is an expert in the field but unlike the former, a coach helps the individual in bringing out their full potential by themselves. A coach not only educates their client but also equips them with important life skills like confidence building, communication skills, passion, etc. Likewise, a coach is similar to a mentor, in that he offers feedback on his client’s progress and growth but also possesses a formal ‘teaching’ role in their life.

The most collaborative and intense process of them all is counselling. In counselling, a professionally certified counsellor helps the client to look for solutions to problems that cause emotional distress, aims to improve their mental health and coping mechanisms and strengthens their self-confidence and communication skills. Counselling focuses mostly on the emotional and mental needs of a client instead of educating them on a certain subject. 

What are the Roles of Coaches?

If a coach aims to provide his clients with useful insights and a proper learning environment, they need to first realise the multiple roles they would have to play in the course of the coaching process. Since the job of a coach is pretty extensive, it is only fair that a coach understands all his responsibilities. A good coach must educate his clients by being a teacher. He must be a motivator to help his clients stay focused on the set objectives. He must lead by example and should also urge the client to be introspective. After a thorough understanding of the duties of a coach, the following roles stand out –

Technical Supporter

A learned coach can efficiently help their clients tackle the technicalities involved in their subject. For example – if a business owner is looking to learn more about marketing but cannot afford to invest a lot of time in it, it would be wise to hire an experienced marketing coach. The coach will educate the client on the nuance of marketing while also offering his expert advice and guidance.

Motivator 

A good coach is a good motivator. Period. Since coaching involves a plethora of support and guidance, you must work with a coach who pushes you to do better by helping you set objectives, creating an action plan and delving into what drives you to do better.

Leader

A coach leads his coaching sessions by laying down a schedule for his clients’ gradual development. A coach must behave authoritatively when it comes to the crucial coaching principles and should ensure a smooth progression of the program by leading the client through unfamiliar territory.

Psychologist 

It is commonly believed that life coaching is therapy in disguise. While this is not credible as both the jobs are miles apart, they do share certain similarities. A coach must not only bring in results, but must also ensure that this success should not cost their client their peace and mental health. This can happen only when there is proper dialogue between the coach and client.

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