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What is professional coaching?

The International Coach Federation defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach's responsibility is to:

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

A professional coach is also a trusted mentor who helps a client identify and uncover what keeps them from reaching their fullest potential. It is a one-on-one relationship that provides a supportive and non-judgmental space to help a person create what they want for themselves. A Coach can help a client strategize and acquire the tools they need to achieve their goals. Coaching consists of taking the steps to help people identify and re-frame their thoughts and attitudes. It can also help people alter and weaken negative habits, acquire new methods of goal identification and take the actions required to achieve maximum potential!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do you ensure a compatible partnership?

Overall, be prepared to design the coaching partnership with the coach. For example, think of a strong partnership that you currently have in your work or life. Look at how you built that relationship and what is important to you about partnership. You will want to build those same things into a coaching relationship. Here are a few other tips:

Is coaching confidential?

What we discuss will be held in confidence and not shared with others. However, our discussions are not privileged for legal purposes. The privilege of confidentiality that exists for the clergy, therapists and attorneys is not granted to coaching professionals. That said, coaching is a confidential process and your personal information will always be protected.

The following questions and answers contain interesting information on the coaching process, how it works, what coaches do, the methodologies coaches use and how to measure success,

What is professional coaching?

What are the factors that should be considered when looking at the financial investment in coaching?

What can coaches do for you?

What types of people have coaches?

How is coaching delivered? What does the process look like?

Do I really need a personal coach? Why can't I just do it by myself?

What has caused the tremendous growth in the coaching industry?

How do you determine if coaching is right for you?

How is coaching different from other methodologies?

How long does a coach work with an individual?

How do you ensure a compatible partnership?

Within the partnership, what does the coach do? The individual?

What does coaching ask of an individual?

How can the success of the coaching process be measured?

Is coaching confidential?

What are the factors that should be considered when looking at the financial investment in coaching?

Working with a coach requires both a personal commitment of time and energy as well as a financial commitment. Fees charged vary by specialty and by the level of experience of the coach.  Individuals should  consider both the desired benefits as  well as the anticipated length of time  to be spent in coaching.

Since the coaching relationship is predicated on clear communication, any financial concerns or questions should be voiced in initial conversations before the agreement is made.

What Can Coaches Do for You?

In 17th century France, monks were often the voice behind the leaders. Today, a new voice is rising. These advisers aren’t monks bound by a vow of poverty. Today, they are usually called executive coaches and they can earn up to $3,500 an hour.

How is coaching delivered? What does the process look like?

Coaching typically begins with a personal interview (either face-to-face or by teleconference call) to assess the individual's 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 thinking and actions. The duration of the coaching relationship varies depending on the individual's personal needs and preferences.

Each session is tailored to the client and will vary based on individual needs. In the beginning, we will discuss what you are committed to accomplishing through our work together and we will begin to create a plan to achieve your goals. Periodically, we will give you assignments to help direct your progress. We will work together to acknowledge obstacles, explore alternate perspectives and celebrate successes. With the conclusion of each session, we will revisit your goals and evaluate the next steps that are needed to achieve these results.

How long does a coach work with an individual?                                                                        

The length of a coaching partnership varies depending on the individual's or team's needs and preferences. For certain types of focused coaching, 3 to 6 months of working with a coach may work. For other types of coaching, people may find it beneficial to work with a coach for a longer period. Factors that may impact the length of time include: the types of goals, the ways individuals or teams like to work, the frequency of coaching meetings, and financial resources available to support coaching.

Within the partnership, what does the coach do? The individual?

The role of the coach is to provide objective assessment and observations that foster the individual's or team members' enhanced self-awareness and awareness of others, practice astute listening in order to garner a full understanding of the individual's or team's circumstances, be a sounding board in support of possibility thinking and thoughtful planning and decision making, champion opportunities and potential, encourage stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations, foster the shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives, challenge blind spots in order to illuminate new possibilities, and support the creation of alternative scenarios. Finally, the coach maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession's code of ethics.

The role of the individual or team is to create the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals, utilize assessment and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others, envision personal and/or organizational success, assume full responsibility for personal decisions and actions, utilize the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives, take courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations, engage big picture thinking and problem solving skills, and utilize the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach to engage effective forward actions.

What types of people have Coaches?

People from all walks of life work with professional Coaches to help attain their goals. Coaches work with people in all areas of their life including career, finance, health and more. Working with a Coach is not limited to any type of person, but is best for those who want to take initiative in their own life. People who get a Coach are committed to a more fulfilling life and are willing to do the work needed to get there. Antonio Esfandiari, winner of the World Series of Poker Million Dollar Buy-in Tournament credited his life coach for providing him with the mental tools required for the $18 million dollar win. Tiger Woods and most of the top professional golfers and tennis players have mental performance coaches.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach? There are many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach, including but not limited to the following:

Do I really need a personal Coach, can't I just do it by myself?

Coaching can take you above and beyond your own personal limitations. More often than not, people try to achieve their greatest potential, but don’t even realize what stands in their way. A personal Coach can offer an unbiased and objective perspective, and can help you realize your patterns and habits. Most people experience that they are more efficient when working with a Professional Coach and that this provides the opportunity for them to better realize their potential. Coaching can make your dreams attainable and will give you support and encouragement along the way.

What has caused the tremendous growth in the coaching industry?

Coaching has grown significantly for many reasons. Generally the world has changed a lot, and coaching is a useful tool to deal with many of those changes. For example, coaching is a great tool for today's challenging job market. There is more job transition, more self-employment and small business. Some of the real life factors include:

How do you determine if coaching is right for you?                                                                   

To determine if you could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When someone has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease.

Since coaching is a partnership, also ask yourself if you find it valuable to collaborate, to have another viewpoint and to be asked to consider new perspectives. Also, ask yourself if you are ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes in your work or life. If the answer to these questions is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way for you to grow and develop.

How is coaching different from other methodologies?

Professional coaching is a distinct service which focuses on an individual's life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management. In an effort to understand what a coach is, it can be helpful to distinguish coaching from other professions that provide personal or organizational support.

Therapy: Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual's emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one's work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow through.

While the coaching we provide can be therapeutic, it is not therapy. Coaching is distinct from traditional therapy because it is not designed to address psychological issues. While emotional issues may arise, the primary focus of life coaching is to help you identify your goals, achieve them, and develop constructive habits and skills. There is little emphasis placed on the past with coaching, but instead the focus is on creating what you want now and in the future.

What does coaching ask of an individual?

To be successful, coaching asks certain things of the individual, all of which begin with intention. Additionally, clients should:

How can the success of the coaching process be measured?

Measurement may be thought of in two distinct ways. First, there are the external indicators of performance: measures which can be seen and measured in the individual's or team's environment. Second, there are internal indicators of success: measures which are inherent within the individual or team members being coached and can be measured by the individual or team being coached with the support of the coach. Ideally, both external and internal metrics are incorporated.

Examples of external measures include achievement of coaching goals established at the outset of the coaching relationship, increased income/revenue, obtaining a promotion, performance feedback which is obtained from a sample of the individual's constituents (e.g., direct reports, colleagues, customers, boss, the manager him/herself), personal and/or business performance data (e.g., productivity, efficiency measures). The external measures selected should ideally be things the individual is already measuring and are things the individual has some ability to directly influence.

Examples of internal measures include self-scoring/self-validating assessments that can be administered initially and at regular intervals in the coaching process, changes in the individual's self-awareness and awareness of others, shifts in thinking which inform more effective actions, and shifts in one's emotional state which inspire confidence.

You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

― Dr. Suess

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