The Definition of Coaching
My preferred definition of coaching is from Julie Starr’s ‘The Coaching Manual’:
“From early forms of transportation i.e. stagecoach or rail coach, the word coaching literally means to transport someone from one place to another. One thing that all forms of coaching seem to have in common is that people are using it to help them move forward or create change. ‘Put simply, coaching is a conversation, or series of conversations, one person has with another. The person who decides whether a conversation was a coaching conversation or not is normally the person who is being coached. If someone acknowledges the following to be true after a conversation, they would probably accept that it was coaching:
The focus of the conversation was primarily themselves and their circumstances. Their thinking, actions and learning benefitted significantly from the conversation. They are unlikely to have had those benefits in thinking or learning within that time frame if the conversation hadn’t happened.”
My personal definition for leadership is around the process that “leaders are people who create capacity – and what they do with that capacity defines them…my favourite activity is that they (leaders) think differently.”
Combining the definitions above means that in practice a coaching session is a way of prescribing some time into your otherwise busy schedule to afford you some space to think and work through issues in a rational and progressive manner. Sometimes, depending on the issues, strong emotions may accompany the dialogue. This may be uncomfortable initially but be assured it is not unusual and part of the purpose in creating a ‘safe space’ is that these very real reactions can be worked through discreetly as part of the process. [I should also say that strong emotions are not mandatory!]
Therefore, coaching is about creating a safe space where the coach and the client can freely explore issues presented with an intention of progressing the client’s agenda.
Coaching is confidential, between you and your coach. Nothing will be disclosed to a third party without your consent.
Personally, I always come to a coaching session with three questions on my mind:
- What is the subject area for the session (the context) i.e. what are we talking about today?
- What is the outcome for the session (which may complement the overall outcome(s) for the assignment or be specific to the individual session) i.e. what do you want to achieve by the end of our time together?
- What is my role? i.e. what do you want from me…to listen, to reflect back (hold up a mirror to the situation), to observe etc. My role will not be to give you advice, opinion, judgement or solution.
[btw – fellow coaches who are purists will point out, as do I, that coaching is not about ‘giving advice’].
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what to expect. The first 10-15 mins of a 1-hour session is commonly a bit of a ‘decompression’ to get the noise and emotion of your day / week so far out of the way so that we can get through to the real issue. It may be helpful to have something to make notes on / record actions…whatever is practical for you; for instance, a journal, a notebook, an iPad or whatever. Ideally I would recommend that you schedule a break after the session so that you can collect your thoughts, reflect and make notes / confirm actions.
PSC exists to enable insight and clarity of direction in complex situations where the stakes are high. We focus on your key performance requirements and design and deliver the solutions that will facilitate and equip your organisation to think and act strategically, unlock potential and empower leadership.
Utilising the ‘navigator’ method we identify the mission, bring clarity to the context, devise a plan, support the execution and hold to account over results.