Coaching is like a journey. Where the client is trying to reach a certain destination. They will invite the coach to join them for part of that journey as their co-pilot. Whilst they work together, the client is ultimately responsible for how to get to the destination and what route to travel. The coach is there to support, challenge and assist the client. Once the coaching sessions have come to an end, the coach and client will part ways whilst the client continues onwards to their destination – but now armed with renewed confidence, desire and determination that they not only know where they are heading, but how to get there and the reasons and importance around the journey and ultimate destination.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as follows.
"Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential" - International Coach Federation
It’s a deceptively simple process involving a partnership between a client and a coach: where a coach champions their client by really listening, reflecting back and asking powerful questions that enables a client to unlock their own potential through the creation of self-awareness. A coach will have absolute positive regard for their client and believe that the client is creative, resourceful and whole; that a client is their own expert; and can find their own solutions through the coaching process. As a client, you will enter a safe and non-judgemental space where you can talk freely and explore how to get to your desired outcome.
Carol Rogers, a twentieth century humanist psychologist, was instrumental in creating a lot of the theory that unpins today’s person-centric approach to coaching. Rogers theorised that there are three things required for growth promoting climate in which people can reach their inherent potential: congruence or genuineness; unconditional positive regard and acceptance; and accurate empathic understanding – and this is what the coaching process provides.
Coaching isn’t an open-ended process. It involves meeting for an agreed number of sessions where the coach and client will explore the outcome of the client in an open and honest way. The coach’s role isn’t to tell the client what to do, or how to reach an outcome. Instead, the coach will create the growth promoting client outlined by Carol Rogers. They will do this by really listening to a client. Giving them space to talk without being judged. For them to feel listened too. A coach will reflect back to the client, like a mirror, so the client can look at things in a new way and create new self-awareness. And a coach will ask questions. The questions asked by a coach will be powerful and provoke a new level of understanding. They can cause a client to stop and think; really think. And by doing so, a client can reach a new level of understanding and awareness that will unlock feelings, approaches and options that had previously eluded the client.
Throughout the process, the client is in control. They set the agenda, they decide the focus and coach and client will work in partnership to co-create the way they will work together. Most importantly, a client needs to be ready for coaching. To be willing to look inside. To be willing to explore what their heart and head is telling them. Willing to be open and honest with themselves. If they are, a great journey lies ahead.