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What Coaching Is and Is Not



What is Coaching?


Coaching is a professional partnership that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, and organizations. The essence of coaching is to help a person change in the way they wish and helping them go in the direction they want to go. In other words, coaching helps people bridge the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaching supports a person by building awareness and empowerment.


Coaches partner with their clients to design the life they want and bring out their clients' brilliance and resources to achieve excellence and create purposeful, extraordinary lives. By creating clarity, coaching moves the client into action, accelerating their progress by providing greater focus and awareness of all the possibilities which exist to create fulfilling lives.


Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful, and whole. The coach's responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve

  • Facilitate client self-discovery

  • Encourage client-generated solutions and strategies

  • Hold the client responsible and accountable

  • Celebrate with the client when goals are achieved

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential. It accelerates your growth.


Coaches are trained to be fully present and focused on their clients. They learn tools and techniques including what kinds of questions to ask and how to ask them to guide their clients' learning. A typical session lasts anywhere from 45 – 90 minutes. The client determines what they want to talk about or focus on in a session and usually leaves with new learnings and next steps they devise with their coach. The coach may also provide helpful references and resources to support the client's goals.


What Coaching is Not


It is not mentoring. Mentoring assumes that the mentor is more experienced, knowledgeable, or worldly than the client. Mentors are usually in the same field/industry or company. Mentors give professional advice, share their own experiences, and recommend their mentees professionally. In contrast, the Coach-Client relationship is an equal partnership. The Coach understands the client is the expert on their life. The coach's role is not to give advice or talk about themselves. The coach's role is to focus on the client's thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They need not be in the same field/industry.


It is not training. Training is the process of gaining new knowledge and skills. It involves a teacher, who is the expert, and a student. The trainer determines the learning goals and the path to understanding. In a coaching relationship, the client determines the goals and the path to achieving them. The coach acts more like a guide to help the clients gain insight and knowledge about themselves.


It is not therapy. Therapy focuses on mental health and working with a patient who seeks relief from psychological or physical symptoms. The patient wants emotional, mental, or physical healing and relief from pain. Therapy assumes there is something wrong with the patient that needs to be fixed. Therapy tends to focus on processing past experiences. Coaching focuses on mental growth. Coaching assumes the client is healthy, capable, and has all the resources they need. Coaching usually focuses more on the present and future and less so on the past.


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