What is coaching ….exactly?

I’m often asked what coaching is and what a coach does……

So let me start with a few of my favourite comments from people I have coached:

“I like the fact that you (my coach) are not my family, school friend, work colleague or boss – I feel that I can say and explore anything with you as you don’t have a prior opinion of me”

“As a senior manager very few people challenge what I say – they are worried that it will affect their career but you do challenge me and it really helps my thinking”

“Work is so busy that I am often in react mode. Our coaching session allows me to get ahead, think through important things in my area and structure my actions accordingly.”

“ I now have a clear plan that I am motivated to do it and I look forward to following my dream”

“  I learnt that I don’t always have to do something.   I never considered the option of just parking something – setting it aside to come back to when the time is right.  I am now focusing my energy on something more important and motivating to me. I feel that a weight has been lifted!”

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) which is the leading professional body for coaches defines coaching as: Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Or… here’s my explanation of Coaching – in 10 points:

  1. A coach helps you, the client (could be a person or a team), to think about and work on the challenges you are facing or some areas of your life or work that you would like to improve.


  1. You decide the topic you want to be coached on and what you would like to achieve. The coach manages the Coaching Process which includes helping you to explore your chosen topic and uses questions and tools to for you think about your challenge or idea in a new way – a way that often brings you amazing new insights and perspectives.


  1. The relationship with your coach is always confidential, non-judgmental and the coach is there to both support and challenge you. It is hugely helpful when you want to change something to have someone on your side cheering you on and ready to challenge you when they hear an underlying belief or barrier that is getting in your way.


  1. Depending on what you want to achieve, you and the coach agree on your coaching path which consists of a number of coaching sessions spread over a period of time. For example: 6 sessions of 90 minutes over 3-6 months. You usually decide this together at the start and generally depends on the topic and your objectives.


  1. There is a sort of magic that happens in a coaching session when you say out loud the thinking that has, up to that moment, all been in your head, when the coach really, really listens to you and asks you questions to help you explore your topic in an entirely different way using their knowledge, experience, and coaching


  1. The new ideas and insights that you have help you to decide what actions you want to take to achieve your goals. The coach then helps you to create concrete and achievable action plan that you are really motivated to do.


  1. During future coaching sessions the coach will check in with you on how your actions are going before moving onto the topic that you want to think about in that session.


  1. This is a really helpful part of coaching. In a busy world, these regular check ins definitely help to push them up your priority list!


  1. Coaching can be for everyone. If you want change in any area of your life, work, relationships, dreams, organisation, team, career, health… the list is endless… then following a coaching path really helps you to achieve the goals you want.


  1. A Coach is not about an expert who tells you what to do –you are the expert of your life! However, if a coach does have expert knowledge in the area of your goal, they will ask permission to share it. It is always entirely up to you, the client, whether to use it or not!


Happy Coaching!