by stacey mason
Posted 11/9/2012 09:26 am
Updated 2 years ago
To say there is just one type of coaching is like saying there is just one kind of tree. One doesn’t adequately describe the wooded forest any more than the other sheds light on the vast number of disciplines that reside within the world of coaching.
In the broadest terms, coaching generally refers to guidance and teachings in sectors as diverse as health and wellness, fine arts, personal, life, business, career, financial and so forth. Each of those sectors has multiple subgroups producing a nearly infinite number of teaching components.
For the sake of simplicity, and to narrow the conversation to leadership development coaching within the business world, I offer up the following definition:
Coaching is an intentionally created relationship in which conversations are centered on building capacity for how one is thinking, feeling, acting, learning, leading or relating.
This capacity building is usually discussed in multiple layers:
• Self-examination takes a look at how are you wired, what you believe in and your life story.
• Team impact and leadership addresses how you get things done through others.
• Organizational results measure business performance.
• Transitional thinking looks at how you spend your time and what you think about.
While a coaching relationship can take many forms, it fundamentally consists of a few building blocks:
Confidentiality: Unfiltered dialog takes place in a safe environment based on mutual trust. There is a high degree of listening to what is being said (and not said), as well as the manner in which that information is shared. There is no judgment.
Question-based: It’s a sorting-out process by asking either a different set of questions, or unpacking the usual questions from a different perspective. The questions are what cause us to think, and it’s the thinking that allows us to grow.
Feedback-driven: Discussions have debriefing elements that point to gifts, potential blind spots, effective and ineffective behaviors, competencies and skill sets, business acumen, personal values, relationship components and stressors. It is often said that people are starving for feedback. But perhaps people are starving for “meaningful” feedback. There is a difference.
Insightful: Insights tend to present themselves as a result of the question-based, feedback-driven process. They are a point of transition, allowing for movement from the old reality to a new reality.
Now, why might you seek out a coaching relationship? In a word — perspective.
Most of us work and live in a routine environment. The landscape looks pretty much the same, day in and day out. Coaching is a chance to look up and see the world through a different lens.
There’s the old saying that suggests you may look up one day and see that your ladder is against the wrong wall. But you could also look up that same day and see that the ladder and the wall are the least of your worries — in fact, you’re supposed to take the footbridge across the stream. There is, after all, more than one way to traverse the terrain.
Coaching can offer a new perspective. A different way to think. A change in outlook.
Footnote: While coaching in itself is a rather structured process, the duration of each session, number of sessions in total and pricing components can all vary greatly. A coaching agreement is not to be entered into lightly, as it requires a healthy investment of time and resources for both parties.
Stacey Mason is the owner of Mason On Leadership, and uses insight, perspective, and humor to move people towards greater self-awareness and thought leadership. More information is available at masononleadership.com.