How is personal development achieved? It’s a concept that is central to coaching, an assumed outcome for both coach and client. But the ways in which coaching supports personal development are not clearly understood by clients – at least when they first contemplate coaching. This is partly because of the way coaches market what they do.
Coaching is a young profession and not well understood. The barriers to entry are low and the standards and methodologies variable. No surprise, then, that I find that people who approach me for coaching often have little idea what to expect.
So this is the first of a series of posts for people who are thinking of working with a coach. It will try to shed light on what coaching is and how to use a coach. Among other things, we’ll look at criteria to use when choosing a coach and how to get the best out of coaching once you begin. But we’ll start with exploring how coaching can help you and when it might benefit you to work with a coach.
Let’s try first of all to pin down what coaching is – a surprisingly difficult question to answer. If you have explored coaching at all, you will have found that no-one ever seems to call themselves simply a coach. There are life coaches and executive coaches, NLP coaches, ontological coaches, co-active coaches, performance coaches, wellbeing coaches, fertility coaches. I could go on. I don’t intend to get into the distinctions in approach between the various methodologies or niches within the profession. Having explored a variety of philosophical traditions in coaching, I can see that they all offer a certain wisdom. I’m more interested here in some of the common factors which underlie coaching, whatever tradition in which it’s rooted. The reason for this is that, for prospective clients, the label given to a particular kind of coaching is less important than the quality and professionalism that a coach has to offer.