Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Success Strategy

Everyone And Their Mother Is Talking About “Coaching” – What Is It Really?

It will be rare to find someone who never heard “coaching” and yet it is one of the most overloaded terms today. Starting from sports coaching, tutoring or mentoring a junior professional, coaching bears a very diverse context. One common denominator though is about helping another person getting better at some skill.

In the professional world, coaching is becoming more common in recent years. And that is where it could use little more clarity.

According to the International Coach Federation(ICF), coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The basic premise is, the person being coached is whole, capable and resourceful. The coach’s job is to hold a safe space, empower them and to facilitate their process of finding their own answer.

The purpose of ICF coaching is not just to solve the current challenge at hand, it is also to help the client learn and grow in the process. One of my clients once said, “I had an issue I wanted to talk to you but then I realized I could use your approach and ask me those questions. I did and I got a solution!” He no longer needed me and that is the kind of success that makes a coach’s work so meaningful. When this client (a software engineer) started with me six months ago, he was feeling low self-esteem, occasional panic attacks and was having challenges in his relationship. In his own words, only six months of coaching helped him overcome those quite significantly.

Not only in professional life, but coaching skills also come handy in a very personal situation as well. One night when I came home late from work, my 14-year-old was having a challenge regarding her school. She was in tears as she was telling me about what happened in school. My mom instinct wanted to “fix” it the first thing in the morning. But unfortunately, that assurance didn’t pacify her. Despite feeling a little puzzled, I realized I needed to “walk my talk”, it’s time to “be a coach”. I shifted to authentic listening while holding her whole, capable and resourceful. Within a minute or two she calmed down and came up with an idea to address the issue. Phew, coaching competency saved a school night drama!

I myself have been working with coaches on and off for both personal and professional aspects of my life. Each and every one of those had a profound impact. Spring last year was a crucial turning point in my life and through coaching, I experienced how breakdown leads to a breakthrough.

In the corporate world, coaching has become a very positive tool for employee development. According to an ICF research, the vast majority of companies (86%) said they at least made their investment back. It has been proven to improve productivity and employee well-being across the board.

Here is what my clients said about the value of coaching

  • Coaching helped me reshape my thought process and approach to managing people and issues on a daily basis. My coach has also shown me the value of dedicating time to focus on being intentional and including all supporting team members in the journey. This has allowed me to leverage the collective group when trying to achieve goals. (Engineering Manager at Boeing)
  • Since I started coaching, I’ve had profound changes internally and externally: I was promoted; I gave up the role of manager which I found unfulfilling, and refocused on my role as a software engineer; I left my old team and found a new team where I feel my values and those of my management and peers are closely aligned; and I’ve become closer to my family and my loved ones.(Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft)

Getting curious? Find a coach near you through the ICF Coach Finder.  Most of the coaches are happy to provide a sample session for you absolutely free of cost. Let the exploration begin!

Other Resources

Want To Be Great At Something, Hire A Coach (A Ted Talk by Dr. Atul Gawande) – “It’s not how good you are now; it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters,”

How Coaching Can Increase Employee Engagement (My case study article on ICF-HCI Publication) – In this non-linear, creative problem-solving world, employee engagement has to go beyond the mere survival instinct. It has to leverage the higher-level inner drive the employees bring to the table. A coach approach seems to be a smart way to incorporate that.