Coaching is a training or development process via which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal or professional competence result or goal. The individual receiving coaching may be referred to as coachee. Occasionally, the term coaching may be applied to an informal relationship between two individuals where one has greater experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the other goes through a learning process, but coaching differs from mentoring by focusing upon competence specifics, as opposed to general overall development.
Some coaches use a style in which they ask questions and offer opportunities that will challenge the coachee to find answers from within him/herself. This facilitates the learner to discover answers and new ways of being based on their values, preferences and unique perspectives.
Etymologically, the English term “coach” is derived from a medium of transport that traces its origins to the Hungarian word kocsi meaning “carriage” that was named after the village where it was first made. The first use of the term coaching to mean an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who "carries" a student through an exam. Coaching thus has been used in language to describe the process used to transport people from where they are, to where they want to be. The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1861.
Historically the evolution of coaching has been influenced by many other fields of study including those of personal development, adult education, psychology (sports, clinical, developmental, organizational, social and industrial) and other organizational or leadership theories and practices. Since the mid-1990s, coaching has developed into a more independent discipline and professional associations such as the Association for Coaching, The International Coach Federation, and the European Coaching and Mentoring Council have helped develop a set of training standards. Janet Harvey, president of the International Coach Federation, was quoted in a New York Times article about the growing practice of Life Coaching, in which she traces the development of coaching to the early 1970s Human Potential Movement and credited the teachings of Werner Erhard's "EST Training," the popular self-motivation workshops he designed and led in the '70s and early '80s. Thomas J. Leonard who founded "Coach U", "International Coach Federation", "Coachville" and "International Association of Coaches" was an EST employee in the 1980's.
The facilitative approach to coaching in sport was pioneered by Timothy Gallwey; before this, sports coaching was (and often remains) solely a skills-based learning experience from a master in the sport. Other contexts for coaching include executive coaching, life coaching, emotional intelligence coaching and wealth coaching.
There are many definitions of coaching, mentoring and various styles of management and training.
What follows are more succinct definitions of the various forms of helping. However, there may be overlap between many of these types of coaching activities.
Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really good at doing something do it. Counselling is helping people come to terms with issues they are facing. Coaching is none of these – it is helping to identify the skills and capabilities that are within the person, and enabling them to use them to the best of their ability.
Professional coaching uses a range of communication skills (such as targeted restatements, listening, questioning, clarifying etc.) to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different solutions to achieve their goals. These skills are used when coaching clients in any field. In this sense, coaching is a form of 'meta-profession' that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual dimensions, etc.
Life coaching draws upon a variety of tools and techniques from other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, Neuroscience positive adult development and career counseling with an aim towards helping people identify and achieve personal goals. Specialty life coaches may have degrees in psychological counseling, hypnosis, dream analysis, marketing and other areas relevant to providing guidance. However life coaches are not necessarily therapists, consultants or health care providers and psychological intervention and business analysis may lie outside the scope of some coaches' work.
Critics see life coaching as akin to psychotherapy but without restrictions, oversight, regulation, or established ethical policies. Regulators have addressed some of these concerns on a state-by-state basis. In 2009, the State of Tennessee issued a memorandum emphasizing that life coaches may be subject to discipline if they perform activities construable as personal, marital, or family counseling. Some other states have made no formal statement but have legal statutes that broadly define mental-health practice. Hawaii, for example, defines the practice of psychology as any effort aimed at behavior change or to improve "interpersonal relationships, work and life adjustment, personal effectiveness, behavioral health, [or] mental health." Although such states usually provide some exclusions to licensure requirements (such as for ordained clergy), life coaches do not usually qualify for the exclusion. More favorably to life coaches, in 2004 the Colorado General Assembly specifically exempted trained life-coaches from licensure requirements that apply to other mental and behavioral health professionals in that state.
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ADHD coaching is a specialized type of life coaching that uses specific techniques designed for working with the unique brain wiring of individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Coaches work with clients to help them better manage time, organize, set goals and complete projects. In addition to helping clients understand the impact ADHD has had on their lives, coaches can help clients develop "work-around" strategies to deal with specific challenges, and determine and use individual strengths. Coaches also help clients get a better grasp of what reasonable expectations are for them as individuals, since people with ADHD "brain wiring" often seem to need external mirrors for accurate self-awareness about their potential despite their impairment.
Business coaching is a type of personal or human resource development. It provides positive support, feedback and advice to an individual or group basis to improve their personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching includes executive coaching, corporate coaching and leadership coaching.
The Professional Business Coach Alliance, The International Coach Federation, the International Coaching Council and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches provide a membership-based association for business coaching professionals. These and other organizations train professionals to offer business coaching to business owners. However, there is no certification required to be a business or executive coach, and membership in such self-designed organizations is entirely optional. Further, standards and methods of training coaches can vary widely from organization to organization, reiterating the open-ended nature of business coaching. Many business coaches refer to themselves as Consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching. According to a MarketData Report in 2007, an estimated 40,000 people in the US, work as business or life coaches, and the $2.4 billion industry is growing at rate of 18% per year. According to the National Post, business coaching is one of the fastest growing service industries in the world.
There are almost as many different ways of delivering business coaching as there are business coaches. Some offer personal support and feedback, others combine a coaching approach with practical and structured business planning and bring a disciplined accountability to the relationship. Particularly in the small business market, business coaching is as much about driving profit as it is about developing the person.
Coaching is not a practice restricted to external experts or providers. Many organizations expect their senior leaders and middle managers to coach their team members to reach higher levels of performance, increased job satisfaction, personal growth, and career development. Business coaching is not the same as mentoring. Mentoring involves a developmental relationship between a more experienced "mentor" and a less experienced partner, and typically involves sharing of advice. A business coach can act as a mentor given that he or she has adequate expertise and experience. However, mentorship is not a form of business coaching.
Executive coaching is designed to help facilitate professional and personal development to the point of individual growth, improved performance and contentment. Most important, the coach attempts to stimulate the client's self-discovery by posing powerful questions and/or assigning homework that may take the form of "thought experiments" with written product or "field experiments" which are actions to try in the real world that may result in experiential learning and development of new approaches to situations. Coaches need to have a strong understanding of individual differences in a work place as well as the ability to adapt their coaching style or strategies. It is suggested that those coaches who are unable to acknowledge these differences will do more harm than good. Many executive coaches have a specific area of expertise: sports; business or psychology. Regardless of specific area of focus, coaches still need to be aware of motivational needs and cultural differences.
Executive coaches work their clients towards specific professional goals. These include career transition, interpersonal and professional communication, performance management, organizational effectiveness, managing career and personal changes, developing executive presence, enhancing strategic thinking, dealing effectively with conflict, and building an effective team within an organization. An industrial organizational psychologist is one example of executive coaching.
Multiple factors affect coaching such as motivation, cultural differences, goals, and feedback. Control theory focuses on goals and feedback. The basic premise of control theory is that people attempt to control the state of some variable by regulating their own behavior. With behavioral regulation, first compare the goal with feedback. After comparing the two you can now evaluate if there is a behavior that can be changed to increase performance which will help reach your goal.
Expat and global Executive coaching deals specifically with the unique set of challenges created from crossing cultures following an international or domestic relocation. This niche of coaching tends to center around adapting to a new culture, identity issues created within relocating families, difficulties attaining professional goals amidst a changing political and social structure, and other social and personal hurdles unique to each individual. This method of coaching is either individual, or group-based and helps the client gain fulfillment, success and a sense of identity in the areas that are coached.
Career coaching focuses on work and career or issues around careers. It is similar in nature to career counseling and traditional counseling. Career coaching is not to be confused with life coaching, which concentrates on personal development. Another common term for a career coach is career guide, although career guides typically use techniques drawn not only from coaching, but also mentoring, advising and consulting. For instance, skills coaching and holistic counseling are increasingly of equal importance to careers guidance in the UK.
Financial coaching is an emerging form of coaching that focuses on helping clients overcome their struggle to attain specific financial goals and aspirations they have set for themselves. At its most basic, financial coaching is a one-on-one relationship in which the coach works to provide encouragement and support aimed at facilitating attainment of the client's financial plans. Recognizing the array of challenges inherent in behavior change, including all too human tendencies to procrastinate and overemphasize short-term gains over long-term wellbeing, they monitor their clients’ progress over time and hold the client accountable. This monitoring function is hypothesized to boost clients’ self-control and willpower. Previous studies in psychology indicate that individuals are much more likely to follow through on tasks when they are monitored by others, rather than when they attempt to ‘self-monitor’. Although early research links financial coaching to improvements in client outcomes, much more rigorous analysis is necessary before any causal linkages can be established. In contrast to financial counselors and educators, financial coaches do not need to be experts in personal finance because they do not focus on providing financial advice or information to clients.
A professional coach may use inquiry, reflection, requests and discussion to help clients identify personal and/or business and/or relationship goals, and develop action plans intended to achieve those goals. The client takes action, and the coach may assist, but never leads or does more than the client. Professional coaching is not counseling, therapy or consulting. These different skill sets and approaches to change may be adjunct skills and professions.
Systemic coaching is a form of counseling that employs constructivistic conversation, aimed at human problem resolution. Systemic coaching recognizes that in order for two or more persons to interact effectively in a social system, any one individual or group of individuals within that system, each as an element of the whole, may require or benefit from coaching aimed at restoring equilibrium or creating a new alignments.
In the world of health and wellness, a health coach is an emerging new role. Health coaching is becoming recognized as a new way to help individuals "manage" their illnesses and conditions, especially those of a chronic nature. The coach will use special techniques, personal experience, expertise and encouragement to assist the coachee in bringing his/her behavioral changes about.
In sports, a coach is an individual that teaches and supervises, which involves giving directions, instruction and training of the on-field operations of an athletic team or of individual athletes. This type of coach gets involved in all the aspects of the sport, including physical and mental player development. Sports coaches train their athletes to become better at the physical components of the game, while others train athletes to become better at the mental components of the game. The coach is assumed to know more about the sport, and have more previous experience and knowledge. The coach’s job is to transfer as much of this knowledge and experience to the players to develop the most skilled athletes. When coaching its entail to the application of sport tactics and strategies during the game or contests itself, and usually entails substitution of players and other such actions as needed. Many coaches work at setting their own rules and regulations. They are expected to provide and maintain a drug free environment, act as a role model both on and off of the fields and courts. Coaches must ensure that their players are safe and protected during games as well as during practices.
Dating coaches are coaches whose job is to direct and train people to improve their success in dating and relationships. A dating coach directs and trains his/her clients on various aspects of meeting and attracting long-term partners and meeting more compatible prospects. The focus of most programs is on confident and congruent communication. Dating coaches may focus on topics important to the art of dating: interpersonal skills, flirting, psychology, sociology, compatibility, fashion and recreational activities. Neil Strauss in The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists also focuses on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), theories of persuasion, history and evolutionary biology, body language, humor and street smarts.
Conflict coaching may be used in an organizational context or in matrimonial and other relationship matters. Like many other techniques of this nature, it is premised on the view that conflict provides an opportunity to improve relationships, to create mutually satisfactory solutions and attain other positive outcomes when differences arise between and among people.
Victimisation coaching is a type of life coaching that educates people who consider themselves as victims of crime or those who fear victimisation. Coaches work with groups of people to assist them on how to identify and approach potentially hazardous situations.
Christian coaching is becoming more common among religious organizations and churches. A Christian coach is not a pastor or counselor (although he may also be qualified in those disciplines), but rather someone who has been professionally trained to address specific coaching goals from a distinctively Christian or biblical perspective.
Although training courses exist, there is no single regulatory body for Christian coaching. Some of these training programs feature best-selling Christian authors, leaders, speakers or pastors. Several of these authors have developed their own coach training programs, such as Dr. Lance Wallnau, Henry Cloud and John Townsend or John C. Maxwell.
One of the challenges in the field of coaching is upholding levels of professionalism, standards and ethics. To this end, many of the coaching bodies and organizations have codes of ethics and member standards and criteria according to which they hold their members accountable in order to protect coaching clients' interests.
Coaching as a career has become increasing popular over the past 15 years, fueled in part by the work of Thomas J. Leonard. However, the competitive marketplace has posed problems for some. Suzanne Falter-Barnes and David Wood demonstrated in a 2007 survey of 3,000 coaches that more than 50% are earning less than $10,000 a year. However, the survey canvassed a mixture of full-time and part-time coaches.
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