Coaches often wonder how to best explain what it is they do and offer in terms of being a coach. The International Coaching Federation, ICF, provides the definition of coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaches develop competency in the eight areas defined by the ICF and live the Code of Ethics. Still – what does a coach do?
A coach provides a process for advanced development so that the client achieves advanced results. Think of development as a progression. It starts with education and/or training. It moves forward with practice and experience. It is often supported with consulting and/or mentoring. Then, at an advanced level, there is coaching. During coaching the client is fully empowered and has the space to expand their thinking through questioning and exploration. This results in new awareness which leads to developing strategies and planning the application of the insights. The client is developing at an advanced level and is in a place for achieving advanced results. This follows the ICF definition: thought provoking, creative process, inspires maximizing personal and professional potential.
Additional clarity comes with how the coach does what they do in a coaching session. During a coaching session, the coach invites the client to define what they want from the session and to set the agenda. The coach asks questions and holds space for the client to think and discover. The coach challenges thinking and perspectives to expand awareness. The coach invites the client to reflect on what they learn and how they are using that learning. The coach asks the client to define what they will do and how they will hold themselves accountable.
Now the tough question: sounds like the client is doing all the work – what is the point of having a coach? Interesting reality: it takes more time, skill, and patience to coach than it does to give the answers. The point of having a coach is because without one the client is unlikely to go as far in their thinking and to consider different possibilities. The coach makes a difference because with a coach the client does figure it out and apply what they learn. Coaching is a place for learning how to think at a broader and deeper level then strategize forward movement. The client experiences advanced development for advanced results.