Coaching is defined as a process that focuses on performance improvement in the present and not past or future. The coach is referred to as the provider of a learning experience who will make a difference in the professional life of a coachee.
The responsibility of a good coach is to help an individual in finding the right answers to his problems. In simple terms, a coach assists in optimizing the capabilities of an individual so that he can reach optimal levels of efficiency and productivity.
What is Coaching?
Coaching has been described as a revolutionary method by some high-end experts. Timothy Gallwey, in his book The Inner Game of Tennis, has made an astonishing suggestion. As per his theory, the obstacles to reaching the desired potential are not external but internal.
It is the responsibility of a coach to minimize the critical voice that is proving a distraction and letting the body take over. He believed that a person had all the answers to his problems within himself. He just needed guidance so that the body could take over and reach maximum levels of performance.
Coaches are like guiding force to their clients who are determined to bring out the existing brilliance within them to achieve brilliance and excellence in their lives. The coach tries to boost greater awareness by reminding his client about all the possibilities that can be optimized.
The process of being coached helps the client to improve their viewpoint and find a balance between work and life.
The philosophy behind coaching is that people have unimaginable resources of genius, wisdom, energy, and capabilities to be set in motion to optimize it fully. The coach is considered a medium that can help a person in finding his inner abilities and expertly utilizing the resources.
Elements of coaching
Important elements are –
- Delegation of more responsibilities
- Onus on listening rather than talking
- Onus on collaboration instead of controlling
- No judgments
- Specific feedback
- Asking and not ordering
Types of coaching relationship
There are two types of coaching relationships-
1. External Coaching relationship
As the name suggests, the external relationship is with a coach who is not part of the organization. The coach, in such a scenario, has no vested interest in the outcomes. His pleasure is in fulfilling his responsibility towards the individual he has been asked to coach.
As he is not an integral part of the company or the line management structure, he does not have any preconceived notions about his coachee. His total focus is on improving the performance of the person through self-realization about his abilities. The advantages of an external coach are as follows
- The external coach is an expert in his field and has received extensive training to coach other people. He has generally spent more time on the job, and his core skills and expertise are an even match to meet the requirements of his client
- An employee is comfortable discussing issues related to colleagues, peers, supervisors, and organizations with an external force that is new in the company rather than an internal coach who knows everyone.
- The external coach can easily guarantee confidentiality and objectivity to his client
- The external coach can see things more clearly as he does not have any preconceived notions about anyone
- As the external coach is fully committed to his cause, and he does not have additional responsibilities in the organization, he can put his onus fully on his client. This will result in full cooperation that can lead to significant results
- An employee is comfortable in discussing hidden issues that can be related to his performance with an external coach. It can prove critical in making improvements in his overall performance
- An external coach is not bound to the organization and has no difficulty in providing a real account of things through his feedback
The disadvantages of an external coach are as follows
- The most critical disadvantage of external relationships is its cost. Hiring someone from outside who is an expert in his field will cost more no doubt compared to someone who is already a part of the organization
- The lack of knowledge about the organization and its employees can prove a hindrance in some cases
- The interaction between a coach and his client should improve the knowledge incorporated with organizational goals and objectives. An external coach does not have any knowledge about the organization or its goals and objectives; hence it becomes difficult to align them
2. Internal Coaching relationship
As the name suggests, the internal relationship is with a coach who is an integral part of the organization like a leader, superior authority, or a manager. The coach in such a scenario has vested interest in the outcomes.
He knows the individual very well and might have some preconceived notions about him and the likely consequences of the coaching conversations. The internal coaches will have to put aside his earlier relationship and focus on the job at hand. The advantages of an internal coach are as follows
- The major advantage of hiring an internal coach is that it is not as expensive as hiring an external would have been. The company saves on direct cost through an internal hire
- The manager or the superior authority entrusted with the task to act as an internal coach has a rough idea about his client, behavior, and the issue that he might be facing. This gives him additional ammunition to understand him quickly and coach him accordingly.
- As both the internal coach and the coachee know about each other, there is a sense of familiarity that can extend to mutual trust, respect, and camaraderie between them
- The internal coach is in constant touch with the employee and gets several opportunities to observe and interact with him
- The internal coach helps the employee feel an essential part of the organization where the manager is taking out time from his busy schedule to act as his internal coach. This helps to boost his morale
The disadvantages of an internal coach are as follows
- The internal coach already has an important position in the organization. For him being a coach is additional responsibilities, and sometimes too much work does not allow him to do justice to his position as an internal coach
- The manager who is entrusted with the task of acting as an internal coach may not be able to adjust to his role that requires asking and not ordering as he has been doing so for a long time
- The coachee may not be comfortable discussing issues about someone from the organization and might have a fear of saying something untoward about someone close to the coach
- The internal coach might have reservations questioning the existing and established rules and modus operandi as he has been part of the organization from a long time
Different coaching styles offered to the clients
The various styles are
1. Executive style
The executive style is focused on the executives or senior leaders to improve their performance. An external coach with high experience and qualifications is hired to help with their issues.
The coach helps the client to come to terms with his problems and deal with them accordingly. The fee rates for the executive style are much higher than any other style.
2. Career style
The purpose of a career coach is to help an individual in identifying his goals and aspiration related to his career. He examines competencies, skills, knowledge, and experience so that the individual can make the best career choice.
3. Leadership styles
As the name suggests in the leadership style, the coach helps employees boost their leadership competencies and skills. The personal attention of the coach helps them to gain clarity and become better decision-makers.
The coach encourages the leaders to talk about their fears and issues, explore various ideas, and draw worthwhile conclusions.
4. Business style
The business style offers help to business leaders and sometimes to their teams to achieve better results.
5. Life coaching style
The purpose of this style is to identify personal goals and achieve them at all costs. The coach takes a holistic approach and pays attention to personal areas as it directly impacts career goals.
He motivates and builds confidence levels of his client so that he can make better changes accordingly
6. Management style
In the management style, the coach helps the individual in people management. The purpose is to develop his skills so that he can become an effective manager.
The coach offers one-to-one services that help address his issues in a specific manner and find solutions that will lead to development and growth.
Distinguishing coaching from similar activities
Some similar activities are as follows-
Counseling is a process that involves working with clients who are facing problems and are dissatisfied with life. They are seeking advice and guidance. The coach works as a guiding force.
He does not offer advice but asks important questions that help the client to find answers
Therapy involves working with clients who are having physical or psychological symptoms. The process deals with mental health, where the client is looking for moving away from pain and finding emotional healing.
In contrast, coaching deals with mental growth where the coachee tries to move towards desired goals.
A mentor is an expert in his field that imparts knowledge to his protégé. It involves discussions and debates to enhance the mentee’s know-how. Mentoring is closest to coaching as both try to boost the knowledge, efficiency, and productivity levels of their client.
Training involves acquiring skills or know-how by studying or practicing for it. The trainer is the expert who imparts specific knowledge to the employees training under him. By contrast, the coach does not pass on any expert knowledge to his coachee.
He asks relevant questions so that the coachee finds the answers within himself and gains related knowledge
In consultancy, the consultant offers his expertise to solve business-related issues. He deals with organizational issues and not individual ones. In contrast, the coach is all about putting his onus on the individual and not the organization
In teaching, knowledge is passed directly from a teacher to the student. The teacher is the authority figure as he knows things that the student does not. In coaching, everything does not happen according to the coach.
It is the opposite of teaching because the client is considered as the expert who has all the answers within himself.
Coaching is a permissive relationship where the coach offers unconditional support, takes permission to ask questions, and makes suggestions.
This professional association produces extraordinary results and helps to fill the gaps between the current and desired levels of performance. It is this process that allows individuals to gain clarity about themselves so that they can lead fulfilling lives.