Coaching is a conversation between two people, the coach and the client. The objective of the conversation is for the coach to help the client to achieve a stated goal by enabling the client to mobilise his or her own existing capabilities. The principle of coaching is that we all have inherent capabilities to meet challenges and achieve goals, but we may not have been asked, or asked ourselves, the insightful questions that enable us to find a way forward.
Coaching clients need to keep open minds about possibilities for ways forward and they must also trust themselves, and their coach, to move towards successful outcomes.
The coach must remain non-judgemental and non-critical for the experience to be of most benefit to the client. It’s essential for the coach not to superimpose their own experiences onto clients’ stories and answers to questions. Coaching isn’t at all based on the coach’s experiences of clients’ situations or the goals that they want to achieve; that would be mentoring or consultancy. The coach’s job is to enable clients to recognise their own abilities to rise to challenges, based on detailed exploration of their own experiences that’s led by the coach’s questioning.
The most widely recognised model of coaching is the G-R-O-W model, whereby the coach explores the client’s goal, the reality of the current situation, the options available for moving forward and the client’s will to take action (ie. what specific steps the client will take, by when and how).
Goals need to be specific and it must be possible to know when they’ve been achieved. If success in goal achievement can’t be identified specifically, then the goal wasn’t sufficiently precise. A broader vision or intent must be re-defined as a number of individual specific goals, for each of which a coaching session can be held, if necessary. Goals might be inter-related and one might depend on another.
Coaching helps people to move faster from where they are now, in terms of their progress towards achieving particular goals, to where they want to be. It helps people to find the encouragement and motivation to reach their goals. Clients benefit from having their high-level aspirations crystallised into specific goals, which they will achieve by developing strategies and actions with the coach’s support.
A coaching client can expect to leave with much increased motivation to take action, awareness of existing (but not necessarily acknowledged) abilities and understanding of the steps that need to be taken. The likelihood is that clients will achieve goals faster than they would if they worked alone. It might be that they are already making progress towards goals and want to move even faster, which coaching can help to do.
Coaching is applicable to many and varied situations. Here are some examples of people whose goals have been addressed through coaching with us:
- A department manager seeking more impact on the whole of the business
- A direct marketing executive wanting to move into the learning and training field
- A networking business director wanting to be more confident at presenting
- A network marketing manager wanting to accelerate network growth and revenue
All of these people had broad visions for how they wanted their roles within their employers’ companies or for their own businesses to evolve, and coaching was invaluable to help break those into specific goals that could then be targeted for action.
The coach will ask relevant questions to establish a client’s values and beliefs, which have a strong influence on desired goals and on the client’s perception of how capable he or she will be to achieve them. Limiting beliefs are those that create thoughts of inability and lack of capability, expertise and resourcefulness. They are usually established from childhood and early-life experiences and they become reinforced over the years. They are a primary reason for people not achieving goals or not even attempting to do so. Coaching can be a very effective way of breaking down limiting beliefs and overcoming previously unmoved ‘blocks’.
The cumulative effect of goal achievement, or lack of it, within a team is profound. Team coaching is achieved either by working with the individuals in the team on a one-by-one basis or by working with the team as a whole, depending on the nature of the individual and collective goals, beliefs and values, and the extent to which individuals’ goals are affected by one another’s.
Coaches can work with clients on a one-off basis but it’s much more likely that the coaching relationship will be an ongoing one over several sessions, in which the client seeks progressive strengthening of their progress as they come to realise how much more they could do. Also, the client generally doesn’t stay with just one goal all the time but, instead, seeks to work on a number of goals concurrently.
Coaching isn’t for everyone but our experience shows that the people who engage with a coach achieve much more than they would have done alone. The only way to find out if it’s for you is to give it a go!