What is coaching?

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach's responsibility is to: Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve Encourage client self-discovery Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies Hold the client responsible and accountable This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.

Why would someone want to be coached?

An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons, including but not limited to the following: Something urgent, compelling or exciting is at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity) A gap exists in knowledge, skills, confidence or resources A desire to accelerate results A lack of clarity with choices to be made Success has started to become problematic Work and life are out of balance, creating unwanted consequences Core strengths need to be identified, along with how best to leverage them

Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by teleconference call) to assess the individual's or business’ current opportunities and challenges, define the scope of the relationship, identify priorities for action and establish specific desired outcomes. Subsequent coaching sessions may be conducted in person or over the telephone, with each session lasting a previously established length of time. Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one's personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments or models to support the individual's or business’ thinking and actions. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on needs and preferences.

Here is what a coaching partnership looks like:

The Coach:
Provides objective assessment and observations that foster the individual's or team’s self-awareness and awareness of others Listens closely to fully understand the individual's or team's circumstances Acts as a sounding board in exploring possibilities and implementing thoughtful planning and decision making Champions opportunities and potential, encouraging stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations Fosters shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives Challenges blind spots to illuminate new possibilities and support the creation of alternative scenarios Maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession's code of ethics

The Individual:
Creates the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals Uses assessment and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others Envisions personal and/or organizational success Assumes full responsibility for personal decisions and actions Utilizes the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives Takes courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations Engages big-picture thinking and problem-solving skills Takes the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach and engages in effective forward actions

Content from the International Coaching Federation