The word “coaching” has been bantered about so much that often people do not really understand what it’s all about. For some, it’s about imparting knowledge to the client without much concern for the individual himself. For others, coaching simply implies that an employee lacks a skill that an expert can teach.


To me, that is not so much coaching as it is “teaching.” While it’s true that one of the roles of a coach is to instruct and lead, there is more involved. An effective coach is able to combine business know-how with psychological know-how. He’s got to be able to climb into the brain of his client and find out what makes him tick. If the focus is purely on skill development, so much more gets completely overlooked.


Here’s what coaching IS:

A coach has a one-on-one relationship with his client, such that a mutual collaboration is formed. This relationship serves as a roadmap to understanding his client’s motivations and passions. As he gets to know this client, he begins to find out what sort of psychological roadblocks are present that may be keeping this individual from achieving his goals.


A coach is able to pinpoint specific skills and strengths on which the client can capitalize. Again, the “getting to know you” portion of this relationship cannot be underestimated. The more a coach knows about his client, the easier his job should become.


A coach helps his client set reasonable goals while exploring areas for growth and improvement. This does not necessarily mean that weaknesses will be corrected; rather, it’s more about helping an individual build and use his strengths.


Here’s what coaching is NOT:

Coaching is not therapy. Just because there is a strong psychological component to coaching, the process is quite different from that of psychotherapy. While there is certainly psychological benefit to be gained from coaching, it’s not designed to focus on psychological problems.


Coaching is not about the coach’s goals – it is about the client’s goals. A good coach has to leave his ego at the door. His suggestions are needed and helpful, but his idea of where the client should be may not necessarily be where the client wishes to be!


Coaching is not about becoming buddies. That’s not to say that friendships don’t develop as a result of the coaching process, but in the beginning, it’s not about grabbing a burger and a beer together!


If the psychological component of coaching is left out of the process, a “lopsided client will emerge. He may have skills now, but what about his emotional self? If the goal of coaching is to maximize an individual’s likelihood for success, he will have to “know” his client. Without psychology, the coach merely becomes a teacher of skill development. Sure the client now has additional skills he may not have had before, but the true success comes in seeing an individual discover his passions, make a plan to go out and get what he wants, and to find a new lease on life.


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