Coaching For Wha’?

Can we not call it coaching anymore?

I’m not sure what we should call it, but the ubiquity of  “coaching” is now astounding. From the oft-used executive and career coaching, there have sprouted a number of subsets. As is true with many practices today, such as medicine, everyone must specialise, but this not quite the same as paediatric nephrology.

Performance coaching, Skills coaching, Interpersonal skills coaching, Team coaching,  Political coaching, Multi-cultural and Cross-cultural coaching, Personality coaching, Mindfulness coaching, Needs-based coaching, Narrative coaching, Appreciative-inquiry coaching, Story-telling coaching, Couple coaching and Family coaching, to name only a few.

I’m not capable of explaining all the differences, and will leave that to others more knowledgeable than I.

Here is what I do know in my corner of the world, having done executive “coaching” for a number of years. Below is a [very partial] list of what I have learnt thus far.

Coaching is:

a) To determine which behaviours need to be acknowledged and changed–to let go of a couple, and one or two to improve upon. That’s more than enough.

b) A long term commitment to alter those behaviours and let go of old totems, the better part of a year to make it stick.

c) Not skills-driven. Coaching does not train people; it focuses only on behavioural issues.

d) Not mentoring. Mentoring often takes longer, is more functional–someone with exact industry expertise to take ‘under my wing’ and train up to do a better job.

e) A lifestyle change. Most people don’t have the patience or interest for it. A wave of the hand with an “I get it and now know what to do”. Everyone wants to lose weight quickly. Keeping it off is to alter the way you live.

f) Like exercise, it is the discipline of action–not thought–which makes coaching work. We are creatures of habit, and to change ANY habit is hard work. We are all judged by our actions, not our thoughts.

g) Good news. You can improve, make it last, and are better than you realise. No one succeeds alone, and having a coach who cares, listens-and prods-is a foundation to build upon, not a crutch to lean on. Coaches don’t do the heavy lifting of making the change; they hold up the mirror to your face.

The sooner a few behavioural attitudes are modified–and stay that way for the most part–the sooner towards a more balanced life, personally and professionally.

Regardless of the exact title, the goals should be similar; to improve oneself with a bit of objective help and a steady hand.


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