People have the answers, they just need someone to ask the right questions
What is coaching?
Coaching is a creative conversation with structure and purpose; a partnership that allows the client to fully explore their thoughts in a secure environment facilitated by a supportive coach.
"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question" - Decouvertes
Traditionally coaching has been associated with sport and in the past has largely comprised of instruction and advice. Coaching today leans towards ‘ask’ rather than ‘tell’– in other words the role of the 21st Century Coach is to ask the right questions and allow the client to find the answers from within. Coaching then is to ‘learn without being taught’ which leads to a greater sense of discovery and empowerment.
Coaching therefore needs to be distinguished from other forms of learning:
TRAINING - the teaching of specific skills, tasks or knowledge to an individual or group of individuals.
MENTORING – the process whereby the mentor advises the individual based on own experience and knowledge.
COACHING – a creative conversation with structure and purpose whereby the coach facilitates the development of an individual or group of individuals.
From the corporate point of view, some organisations will use a careful mix of the three as each has a part to play in the development of an individual. Three of the UK’s top coaching experts define the terms as follows:
|Sir John Whitmore||Training is traditional teaching, usually largely lecturing and instruction with interactive experiential learning thrown in.||Mentoring is usually the on-going guidance and supervision given by an experienced person in the field.||Coaching does not put information in but largely draws out the latent potential of the coachee, to learn naturally and to perform.|
|Katherine Tulpa||A focused intervention which involves the transferring of skills, content or knowledge to an individual or group, with the outcome for the learner or learners to acquire and retain new competencies. A number of approaches can be used to deliver this.||A 1:1 relationship, typically informal in nature, which involves a more experienced professional guiding another less experienced, by sharing their insights, tips, or words or wisdom as a way to best advance their careers within the organisation by which they work.||A collaborative relationship, either 1:1 or a group, which involves a process of focused dialogue, reflection, challenge and support, to help an individual or company perform better, reach their personal or business goals, and achieve greater fulfilment/growth.|
|Simon Tyler||The process, through which new information, new skills, new approaches and attitudes are explored, experienced, experimented with, and taken on by an individual. A trainer may know and use the information and skill, but more so has talents in assisting the learning process.||A supportive methodology where an individual is led in conversations through ground well known to the mentor, who offers guidance and experience, suggesting best practice, contacts and networks, specific learning needs etc.||A personal development approach that encourages and empowers an individual to raise self awareness, think and rethink with clarity, design actions and environments to move rapidly towards what they truly want, living and being more and more who they really are.. Coaching is a highly refined method of communication where the individual is encouraged, supported, challenged, guided, and accelerated cleanly. A coach is a communicator, with little or no knowledge of the individual or the context in which they exist.|
Sir John Whitmore is author of "Coaching for Performance" which has sold a quarter of a million copies in 17 languages.
Katherine Tulpa is Chair and Co-Founder of the Association for Coaching, and co-author in "Excellence in Coaching – the Industry Guide".
Simon Tyler is a leading business coach and creator of YouTube short film "Intangibly inarticulatable".
My sincere appreciation and thanks to John, Katherine and Simon for sending me these definitions.