Coaching -a definition: Prominent authors and coaching authorities Zeus and Skiffington ('The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work', 'The Coaching at Work Toolkit' and 'Behavioral Coaching -How to build sustainable personal and organizational strength' -McGraw-Hill) define coaching as “a structured process-driven relationship between a trained professional coach and an individual or team which includes: assessment, examining values and motivation, setting measurable goals, defining focused action plans and using validated behavioural change tools and techniques to assist them to develop competencies and remove blocks to achieve valuable and sustainable changes in their professional and personal life.” Training may include seminars, workshops and supervised practice.
The ultimate goal of coaching is to help individuals develop internal and external structures that help them achieve sucess and to increase their potential by expanding their sense of what is possible . Coaches encourage individuals to develop the necessary skills, attitudes and knowledge that will help them develop action plans to meet goals . In the coaching process coaches are seen as collaborators (Swartz, et al. 2005) that work with the individual by tackling obstacles such as time management, organization, problem solving and navigating through the learning curve by using support, encouragement, teaching skills and goal setting (Davidson & Gasiorowski. 2006). Coaching is about "discovery, awareness and choice" (Whitworth, et al. 1998).
Whitworth, et al. (1998) found that the primary reasons why clients want coaching is "change; they want to see results" (p.87). Clients want a "better quality of life - more fulfillment, better balance - or a different process for acomplishing their desires" (p.1).
Davidson & Gasiorowski (2006) distinguished coaching from therapy by stating " Coaching is not traditional therapy. Traditional therapy typically involves "providing" a treatment, remedy and/or cure for an underlying problem" (p.190). Coaching sees the client as creative, resourceful and whole, and has an orientation towards the future (Whitworth, et al. 1998).
Today coaching plays an important role in Human resource development (HRD) and life help, and the field of coaching as a distinct area of study is rapidly gaining ground. Although the role of coach has changed over time, some examples of research papers on business coaching show that between the late 1930's and the late 1960's, some forms of internal coaching in organizations were already present; i.e. managers (or supervisors) also acted as coaches to their staff (cf. Zeus & Skiffington, 2002.; Grant, 2003.a; 2006.). Gorby (1937.) specified how older employees were trained to coach new employees to reduce wastage.
The evolution of this formal discipline has been influenced by and enhanced through the incorporation of pertinent maxims from other fields of study including personal development philosophies, adult education practices, elements of psychology (sports, clinical, developmental, organizational, social and industrial) and other organizational or leadership principles. Since the mid 1970's, coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and has a set of training standards (Davidson & Gasiorowski, 2006). For example the Behavioral Coaching Institute (BCI) and the International Coaching Federation (ICF) are professional bodies that provide training and ethical standards for certified coaches. BCI's Graduate School of Master Coaches trains and certifies qualified professionals via it's invitational Master Coach Course which is recognized world-wide (graduates from over 50 countries).
Today, coaching is a recognized discipline used by many professionals engaged in people development. However, as a distinct profession it is relatively new and self-regulating. There are six self-appointed accreditation bodies for life coaching: the International Coaching Council (ICC), the International Coach Federation (ICF), the International Association of Coaching (IAC), the Certified Coaches Federation (CCF), the European Coaching Institute (ECI) and the International Guild of Coaches (IGC). No independent supervisory board evaluates these programs and they are all privately owned. These bodies all accredit various coaching schools as well as individual coaches, except the IAC and ECI which only accredits individuals.
According to Davidson & Gasiorowski (2006) ICF has been "key in identifying training criteria and ethical standards in this rapidly evolving field" (p.189).
It is important for future clients to distinguish between coaches who are professionally trained and/or accredited and those who "hang their name plate" out as a coach. Professional coaching skills are transferable across the variety of areas in which a coach may be employed. Whitworth, et al (1998) stated that "the coaches experience is confined to the coaching process. The coaches job is to help clients articulate their dreams, desires and aspirations, help them clarify their mission, purpose and goals, and help them achieve that outcome" (p.5) in any area of life (i.e. personal, professional, relationship, health etc...).
Recent practices in performance coaching for non-sporting environments focus on non-directive questioning, provocation and helping clients to analyze and solve their own challenges, rather than offering advice or direction (see Tim Gallwey's The Inner Game of Tennis or Myles Downey's Effective Coaching).
Life coaching has its roots in executive coaching, which itself drew on techniques developed in management consulting and leadership training. Life coaching also draws inspiration from disciplines including sociology, psychology, positive adult development, career counseling, mentoring and other types of counseling. The coach may apply mentoring, values assessment, behavior modification, behavior modeling, goal-setting and other techniques in helping their clients.
Government bodies have not found it necessary to provide a regulatory standard for life coaching, nor does any state body govern the education or training standard for the life coaching industry; the title of "coach" can be used by any service provider. Multiple coaching schools and training programs are available, allowing for many options (and sometimes causing confusion) when an individual decides to gain "certification" or a "credential" as they apply to the coaching industry. Multiple certificates and credential designations are available within the industry.
Some assert that life coaching is akin to psychotherapy without restrictions, oversight or regulation. The State legislature of Colorado after holding a hearing on such concerns, disagreed, asserting that coaching is unlike therapy because it does not focus on examining nor diagnosing the past. Instead coaching focuses on effecting change in a client's current and future behavior. Additionally, life coaching does not delve into diagnosing mental illness or dysfunctions.
According to a survey of coaching clients, "sounding board" and "motivator" were the top roles selected for a coach. Clients are looking for a coach "to really listen to them and give honest feedback." The top three issues in which clients seek help are time management, career and business.
Personal Coaching is a learning process. A Professional Coach may use inquiry, reflection, requests and discussion to help clients identify personal and/or business and/or relationship goals, develop strategies, relationships and action plans intended to achieve those goals. A coach provides a place for clients to be held accountable to themselves by monitoring the clients' progress towards implementation of their action plans. Together they evolve and modify the plan to best suit the client's needs and environmental relationships. A Professional Coach acts as a human mirror for clients by sharing an outside and unbiased perspective on what they are observing about their clients. A Professional Coach may teach specific insights and skills to empower the client toward their goals. Finally, a Professional Coach encourages the client to celebrate the achievement of milestones and goals.
Clients are responsible for their own achievements and success. The client takes action; and the coach may assist, but never leads or does more than the client. Therefore, a coach cannot and does not promise that a client will take any specific action or attain specific goals.
Professional Coaching is not counseling, therapy or consulting. These different skill sets and approaches to change may be adjunct skills and professions. The Professional Coach recognizes his/her limitations and refers the client for other services as ethically required.
At least two organizations, the International Coaching Council (ICC) and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) provide a membership-based association for professionals involved in business coaching. The ICC and WABC also provide an accrediting system for business coach training programs. The ICC currently has over 1,500 members from over 50 countries. Business Coaches can also gain creditability by joining a franchise or firm.
Business coaching is not the same as mentoring. Mentoring involves a developmental relationship between a more experienced "mentor" and a less experienced partner, and typically involves sharing of advice. A business coach can act as a mentor given that he or she has adequate expertise and experience. However, mentoring is not a form of business coaching. A good business coach need not have specific business expertise and experience in the same field as the person receiving the coaching in order to provide quality business coaching services.
Business coaches often help businesses grow by creating and following a structured, strategic plan to achieve agreed upon goals. Multiple organizations train professionals to offer business coaching to business owners who may not be able to afford large coaching firm prices
In the world of health and wellness, a health coach is an emerging new role. Health coaching is becoming recognized as a new way to help individuals "manage" their illnesses and conditions, especially those of a chronic nature. In both sports and health, a "coach" is a person who observes, gives objective feedback, teaches, helps to develop a plan of action and holds another responsible for their actions and commitments. The coach will use special techniques, personal experience, expertise and encouragement to assist the coachee in bringing his/her behavioral changes about.
A dating coach directs and trains his/her clients on various aspects of meeting and attracting long-term partners and meeting more compatible prospects. The focus of most programs is on confident and congruent communication.
Neil Strauss in The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists also focuses on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), theories of persuasion, history and evolutionary biology, body language, humor and street smarts.
Dating coaches typically charge rates similar to that of other professional counselors (e.g. $75-125/hour). Seminars involving multiple audience members typically charge less than one-on-one meetings, however.
There has been a stigma attached to those who seek help from dating coaches. Some counterarguments to this stigma are that most people have dating coaches in the form of older siblings, charismatic friends or honest lovers; and that it is socially acceptable to seek coaches in other, potentially less important aspects of life such as guitar playing. A response to this is that dating is easier than activities like guitar playing, and coaches should be unnecessary. A counterargument to that response is that there are many people who have been out of the dating world for so long that the techniques that used to work for them (such as going out to bars) no longer work; and some people have barriers that they need to deal with before they can be successful.