What is Coaching?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, Involve me and I learn”

Benjamin Franklin 

We have all experienced conversations where the other person is giving us advice. They impart their wisdom and tell you what to do and how to do it. What tends to happen is the listener’s brain switches off into reflective mode as we take in all the wisdom that is coming our way. This type of conversation can be really useful in short bursts, where we are in an emergency situation or when we need directions in a car for example. And yet most of the time what we all crave is space for us to work things out for ourselves. Take parenthood, for example, most of us tend to enjoy hearing others parenting ideas however the most useful times are when we work out for ourselves what will work best for our own children and our families style and approach. Another example is our careers, whilst it is helpful to hear others pearls of wisdom, each person’s career can be successful in so many different ways that one size doesn’t fit all. 

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a thought provoking, honest conversation that results in new awareness and new thinking. It ensures that you have more clarity and an understanding of yourself and your situation. It provokes and challenges your current thinking and helps you articulate clearly what you do and don’t want from life, relationships, careers and enables you to create a plan to achieve it. 

Unlike friends, family or colleagues, a coach is there to provide space for you to do your thinking without providing advice. Whilst you may value advice, there are many times in life where we have the answers ourselves and all we need is the right questions, environment and silence to uncover them. A coach provides that space for you to do your thinking on a regular basis. Most of my clients book weekly or monthly sessions, and every time we will work out together what would be most valuable to discuss in each session. As such, the topics can change each time. 

What are some of the benefits of having regular coaching?

  • Opportunity to regularly reflect on situations and learn from them
  • Increased work life balance 
  • Enhanced and broadened our leadership style 
  • Pathway to promotion or change of career 
  • More honest and effective conversations with others
  • Increased gravitas and impact for example in presentations or meetings 
  • Clarity on career and life goals
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Increased support network 

Does a coach have to be an expert on the topic I bring?

No – whilst your coach may have experience in the topic, it is the coaching process that they bring, not the expertise in the topic. By creating the coaching space, the coach gives you the reins to lead the conversation and by doing so this creates self-awareness and choices. The coaching conversation typically starts with identifying what your situation is or the challenge or yearning you have. Followed by a brainstorm and discussion about the current situation, then some realisations and awareness turned in to actions for the future. 

Does every session end in actions?

Actions are part of coaching – they are the fruits of the labour of spending time thinking. These may include making that call you had been putting off, reprioritising or trying out a different approach to a piece of work. In the next coaching session there is an opportunity to review what happened, what you would do differently and what you have learnt. 

How does coaching differ from counselling or mentoring?

Coaching and counselling have many similarities, creating space, reflecting, asking questions and thinking things through. Counselling is more past based, reflecting on particular moments that potentially bought about pain and resolving these. Think of coaching as acknowledging the past whilst focusing on the here and now and the future focus. Mentors are often in a more senior position and have walked in your shoes before and impart their advice and wisdom based on this. 

What are potential coaching topics?

  • Creating a new environment working at home
  • Managing anxiety and stress
  • Communicating feedback to a direct report in an impactful way
  • Working out the focus and priorities over the coming month
  • Dealing with stress and burnout in an effective way 
  • Managing pressure relating to presenting to a large audience
  • Making sense of your current role and how to perform at your best 
  • Leading a team through a time of change 
  • Building resilience in others 
  • Finding a work life balance that keeps you at your optimum
  • Dealing with a tricky relationship in a more effective way 
  • Creating new networks and relationships 

What can I expect in the first session?

Sessions typically last one hour. We will set the relationship up for success including discussing confidentiality, how you work best and creating an honest and open relationship. We will discuss what coaching is and what it isn’t as well as what your key challenges and focus areas are. We will notice that sometimes you won’t be clear what you want to work on – in fact coaching helps uncover the clarity – we don’t expect you to come fully clear to every session.

What next?

If you would like to experience the benefits of coaching, we work with lots of different leaders looking to be at their best and one of the ways is through regular Executive Coaching sessions.

If you wish to explore coaching, or have any questions for me, please get in touch for our no obligation initial consultation.

Photo credit:  Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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