Warning: This is a paper written for a
class in my doctorate program at Walden University. It is written
for an academic audience. It isn't the most exciting paper on
coaching you will ever read, but it is informative.
Introduction to Professional
Business and Personal Coaching
When Luke Skywalker was perplexed, he went to
Obe-Wan Kenobi. When King Arthur needed advice, he went to Merlin.
When Pinocchio got in trouble, Jiminy Crickey provided guidance.
But who is there to help everyday heroes determine how to better
deal with stress, change, job problems, and other life issues?
Where can an everyday hero find an Obe-Wan Kenobi? (Brickey,
1999, p. 109)
Out of the self-development self-help movements
of the 60s and 70s has emerged a new profession, that of professional
business and personal coaching. Coaching answers the question
of who will support the everyday hero in their quest to be successful
in life. According to Whitworth, House, Sandahl and Kimsey-House,
"People come to coaching because they want
things to be different. They are looking for change or they
have an important goal to reach. People come to coaching for
lots of individual reasons. They are motivated to achieve specific
goals: to write a book, to start a business, to have a healthier
body. They come to coaching in order to be more effective or
more satisfied at work. They hire a coach because they want
to create more order and balance in their lives. Sometimes people
want more from life, more peace of mind, more simplicity, more
joy, and sometimes they want less: Less confusion, less stress,
less financial pressure. In general they come to coaching because
they want a better quality of life: more fulfillment, better
balance, or a different process to accomplish their life desires."
(Whitworth, Hourse, Sandahl, Kimsey-House, 1998. p. 5)
Coaching facilitates self-improvement by supporting
the individual to systematically acquire the skills and tools
to uncover the barriers that stand in the way of achieving personal
and professional goals.
Having a personal coach for the issues that come
up in life is like having an athletic coach or physical trainer.
Doyle points out that sports coaching and business coaching
have several things in common such as,
§ Both sports and business coaches strive
to motivate, inspire, and get the extra mile from their players.
§ Both demand commitment, action, and results for the team
and the stakeholders that support the team.
§ Both build trusting relationships with their players.
§ Both need focus and vision.
§ Both play to win.
(Doyle, 1999, p. 10)
Doyle also points out that even though there are
similarities, there are also major differences. A personal coach
does what an athletic coach or trainer does, only in a more
holistic way. A personal coach challenges the client to take
the time to find out what is truly important in his or her life.
A personal coach provides accountability for the things the
clients says they want to accomplish, and supports the client
in living up to his or her full potential. No matter where a
person is in life, there is usually a desire to create more.
This may be more success, more money, more friends, more of
a sense of the meaning of life, or more connection that is spiritual.
To many people this means they must work hard,
struggle, and do it alone. There is a belief that they must
pay a price for what they wish to attain. That price is often
high. Many people pay by jeopardizing their health, not having
enough time to enjoy life, straining family relationships or
lessening productivity. For many the effort results in the unexpected
and they end up not enjoying what they worked so hard to obtain.
Athletes and performers know about this trap. They know they
need someone else, a trained someone else, to help them set
goals, discover real needs, and work effectively toward ultimate
goals of excellence. They are willing to hire a coach and know
that no serious athlete or musician would expect to progress
very far without one.
Coaching is growing in popularity, both for people
interested in becoming coaches and for people looking to create
more of what they want in their life. In Coaching for Leadership
the editors remark that "Coaching is a rapidly growing
vocation these days because so many of us are searching for
a qualified person to help us develop and improve" (Goldsmith,
Lyons, & Freas, 2000, p. 20). According to Nordli, "somewhere
around the late 1980's, the term coaching came into business
parlance (CPJ, 1996, p. 87). Judge and Cowell point out that
"Like many other innovations, it seems to have sprung up
simultaneously on the east and west coasts of the United States"
(Judge & Cowell, 1997, p. 71). The first person thought
to use the term executive coaching was Dr. Dick Borough, a practitioner
in Palo Alto, California, who used the term to describe his
leadership development activities in 1985. Judge and Cowell
point out that by 1988 the term coaching had become mainstream
enough that Forbes magazine printed a controversial article
written by Dyan Machan entitled, "Sigmund Freud meets Henry
In one of the first journal articles published
on coaching, Evered and Selman provided the history of the word
coach. They state that
The word "coach" was first used in the modern sense
of a sports coach in the 1889's (referring specifically to one
who trained a team of athletes to win a boat race). Previously
(beginning in the 1840;s), the word "coach" was used
colloquially at Oxford University to refer to a private (vs.
university) tutor who prepared a student for an examination.
But the very first use of the word "coach" in English
occurred in the 1500's to refer to a particular kind of carriage.
(It still does.) Hence the root meaning of the verb "to
coach": to convey a valued person from where he or she
was to where he or she wanted to be. (Evered & Selman, 1989,
The word coach may not seem an appropriate word
to use in the context of professional business and personal
coaching, but when the root meaning of the verb is explored,
it makes sense. In the book Coaching for Leadership the authors
"Coach" is an old French word meaning "a vehicle
to transport people from one place to another." Today,
a coach helps a person move up a level, by expanding a skill,
by boosting performance, or even by changing the way a person
thinks. Coaches help people grow. They help people see beyond
what they are today to what they can become tomorrow. A great
coach helps ordinary folks do extraordinary things. In short,
a great coach provides sturdy shoulders to stand on so one can
see farther than they might see on their own. (Goldsmith, Lyons,
& Freas, 2000, p. 12)
Modern day professional coaches support their
valued clients in assessing where they are and then supporting
them in getting to where they want to be. Witherspoon continues
on the theme of the word coach and explains,
Coaching is undertaken to bring out the best in people. The
first use of the work in the English language was in reference
to a particular kind of carriage. Hence, the basic meaning is
to convey a valued person from where he or she is to where he
or she wants to be. (Witherspoon, 2000, p. 167)
Personal coaching is the second fastest growing
profession in the United States, and has been written about
in Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine,
and featured on shows such as CNN. In their book Co-Active Coaching,
Whitworth, Kimsey-House, and Sandahl state that professional
and personal coaching can be traced back to executive coaching
in large organizations and to mentoring programs (1998). The
International Coach Federation estimates that there are 15,000
full and part-time coaches throughout the United States. According
to Thomas Leonard, founder of CoachU and currently the president
of Coachville, the largest coaching organization in the world,
there are more than 40,000 coaches worldwide. Leonard also asserts
that the profession is increasing at 20% per year and is a multi-billion
Although the academic literature primarily focuses
on only one type of coaching, executive, with some management
and business coaching sprinkled in for good measure, there are
actually many types of coaching available. Executive and management/business
coaching is only a small portion of the coaching that is offered.
"Executive coaches account for only 10% of the field"
(Greco, 2001, p. 28) Among the most popular areas are:
· Personal/Life Coaching
· Developmental Coaching
· Executive Coaching
· Business Coaching
· Remedial Coaching
· Transitional Coaching
· Career Coaching
(Morris, 2000, p. 34)
According to research conducted by Gale, Liljenstrand,
Pardieu, and Nebeker
Titles most often used include Personal Coach,
Executive Coach, Life Coach and Business Coach. Coaches with
master degrees most frequently refer to themselves as Business
Coaches, Consultants, Executive Coaches, Personal Coaches, and
Developmental Coaches; coaches with Bachelor degrees use the
titles, Professional Coach, Mentor and Life Coach, and coaches
with Doctoral degrees use the titles, Mentor and Developmental
Coach most frequently. The wide variety of coach titles indicates
either that coaches practice in many different capacities or
that there are many different names for very similar intentions.
(2002, p. 8)
Of the 1,048 coaching articles listed on the International
Coach Federation website, dating from 1993 to 2002, less then
10% of the mainstream media focused on executive coaching. The
rest of the articles focused on life coaching, life transition,
and career. The answer to why academia is not addressing the
coaching phenomenon in a more holistic way is not in the scope
of this paper, but does lend itself to further inquiry.
One of the most difficult things about coaching is to define
what it is. Bivens contends that
coaching is an overused and often misunderstood concept in business
and leadership development circles today. Our mental model for
coaching greats, in this country at least, consists of a picture
scrapbook formed from experiences with childhood sports coaches
or visual images of the Vince Lombardi's, Woody Haye's, Bear
Bryant's or Bobby Knight's of our own era. (Bivens, 1996, p.50)
While these images can serve to inspire because
of the ability of the coach to produce winners, they also typify
coaches (usually men) who also demonstrate a darker side of
coaching. Behavior such as verbal abuse, playing injured players,
intimidation, and the coach as God philosophy are also part
of the athletic coaches' behavioral playbook (Bivens). In contrast,
business and personal coaches draw on the positive lessons from
the great coaches and add a partnership component that includes
· Deep respect for the individual
· Trust that people have the ability to solve their own
· A partnership connection that facilitates learning
performance. (Bivens, 1996, p 51.)
According to Markle "Coaching is a technique
for helping others reach peak performance and ultimate potential"
(Markle, 2000, p. 3). Dotlich and Cairo define coaching as,
"a process that fosters self-awareness and leads to the
motivation to change, as well as the guidance needed if change
is to take place" (Dotlich & Cairo, 1999, p. 2) Doyle
expounds that coaching is "a planned and purposeful process"
(Doyle, 1999, p. 6). In his book, Coaching for Performance,
Sir John Whitmore states,
Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their
own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching
them. The relationship between the coach and the person being
coached must be one of partnership in the endeavor of trust,
of safety and of minimal pressure. (Whitmore, 1992, p. 23)
According to the International Coaching Federation,
Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed
to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal
and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances
and enhance the quality of their lives.
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and
to customize their approach to individual client needs. They
seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they
believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The
coach's job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources,
and creativity that the client already has. (Retrieved 17 December,
2002, from www.coachfederation.org)
To synthesize the definitions and concepts of
coaching, one would conclude that coaching is an interdevelopmental
relationship that is synergistic in nature and interactive.
Coaching is client focused, future focused, and created in the
spirit of partnership. Coaching provides accountability and
support that allows the client to do more than he or she would
alone. The goal of coaching is not to fix someone who is broke,
but to discover and build on the client's talents and create
greater awareness. The purpose of coaching is to create an awareness
of the whole person, which leads to increased capacity over
what any one aspect of a person can provide. (Goldsmith, Lyons,
& Freas, 2000) Coaches provide tools, support, and structure
to keep the client focused and on target.
Coaching in its modern form is a young and evolving
field, which has yet to be clearly defined and which good practice
is still being understood and developed. (Goldsmith, Lyons,
Freas, 2000, p. 18).
Coaching Compared to Other Professions
Although often compared to various disciplines, coaching is
a distinct profession that combines the best of many areas of
personal development. Coaching is an eclectic mix of concepts
and methods that are used in new and distinct ways. Instead
of trying to analyze the past and figure out what is wrong,
a coach supports the client in assessing where they are in the
present, where they want to be, and how they can get to where
they want to go. Traditional methods such as adult education,
management training, consulting skills, and mentoring skills
are combined and synthesized to create a coaching modality.
In the past society was closer knit and elder
family members would take the roll of coaching a younger relative
through the trials and tribulations of life. With American society
being increasingly mobile, families often do not stay in close
proximity and frequently people find themselves far from home
and the support of family.
An alternative to a family member is to find a
mentor outside of the family. Although mentoring can be an answer
to getting support, many times it is difficult to find an appropriate
mentor and mentoring tends to be hierarchical in nature, with
the mentor bestowing knowledge upon the mentee. Mentoring is
a relationship that is established with someone who is an expert
in his or her field and has something to teach the mentee. The
mentor is usually older and more experienced than the mentee.
The mentor bestows their knowledge and wisdom and the mentee
looks up to the mentor and seeks guidance and advice from the
mentor. A coaching relationship is a partnership where the coach
walks side by side with the client. Coaches support their clients
in drawing on their own wisdom to find answers and then to follow
their own inner guidance.
Traditionally people would turn to therapists
in times of transition, however therapists tend to work with
dysfunctional people to get them back to functional. A coach,
on the other hand, works with functional people to get them
to exceptional. MacRae (2002) points out that while the coaching
process has its roots in psychology, it should not be confused
with therapy or counseling. Coaches deal with highly functional
people and the emphasis is on strengths and achievements rather
than weaknesses and problems. Evered and Selman point out that
"Coaching is not especially concerned with resolving personal
or psychological problems, except perhaps peripherally"
(Evered & Selman, 1989, p. 24). Landsberg points out that
"great coaches, in contrast to great psychologists, typically
do not delve deeply into the coachee's psyche" (Landsberg,
1997, p. 104). In addition coaching is present and future focused
in contrast with therapy that focuses on the past and how to
heal it. Beam points out that "Unlike a therapist, a coach
is more concerned with the future than with the past, with action
than with introspection and with how things can happen rather
than why they did" (Beam, 2001, p. 58). The confusion between
coaching and therapy in part could be because therapy is evolving
and many therapists now incorporate coaching skills into their
therapy. This is fine, therapist can coach, but coaches do not
do therapy. Koudsi contends that coaching is about looking at
life in a holistic way, which might sound somewhat like therapy,
but instead of worrying about the past, coaches focus on the
future and work on the notion that people are responsible for
their own success and need to take steps toward achieving it.
Coaching is a form of consulting. The difference
between coaching and consulting is the consultant comes in as
an expert, fixes something, and leaves. In contrast the coach
does not claim to be an expert in the coachee's life or business,
but knows that the client is the expert and simply needs to
be supported in discovering and implementing his or her best
ideas. Where typically the consultant is an expert in the field,
a coach does not claim to be an expert, however, is there to
bring the expertise out in the client. The coach does not claim
to have the answers, but instead has the questions that will
support the client in finding his or her own answers. Evered
and Selman contend,
The coach's job is not primarily to give information, although
some information giving is involved. As a rule, a coach is not
an expert. Technical expertise frequently is less relevant than
the ability to enable or empower the coachee to go beyond the
current level of performance. An insight into the player, in
all his or her uniqueness, far outweighs the mere delivery of
information. (Evered & Selman, 1989, p. 24)
In addition, the relationship with a consultant
is usually focused on a particular area and is short term. The
relationship with a coach is holistic in nature and is usually
a longer term relationship. Borkowski offers advice on how to
know if a consultant or coach should be hired. If the task is
something that is important, but does not have to be done by
the person facing the task, then the task should be delegated
to a consultant or other expert in the area. If the task is
important and is something that can only be executed by the
person faced with the task, and he or she is running into obstacles
and stumbling blocks and is looking to use this opportunity
for both personal and professional growth and development, than
a coach, not a consultant is needed. A consultant will move
a project along to completion; a coach supports a person in
accomplishing their personal and professional goals in a holistic
Coaching also differs from counseling in several
ways. While a counselor provides information and expertise,
the relationship is normally hierarchical, perhaps even authoritarian
in nature. A coaching relationship is not hierarchical; the
client and the coach partner to create a better future for the
Coaching does share similarities with other professions.
However, coaching is distinctly different is many ways. Coaching
is not hierarchical in nature, works on bringing out the brilliance
and wisdom of the client, and supports the client in designing
his or her own process for success. The coach does not claim
or need to be an expert in the client's life, but rather uses
tools that support the client in drawing on his or her own wisdom
and expertise. Coaching skills can be used in conjunction with
other professions and therefore may cause confusion along the
lines of clearly understanding the distinction between coaching
and something else.
The Art of Coaching
According to Greco (2001), approaches and credentials are certainly
the biggest obstacle facing this emerging industry. To establish
levels of competencies and key distinguishers for coaches, thirty-six
coaches from the International Coach Federation came together
to establish the current competencies. The basic coaching competencies
1. Meeting ethical guidelines and professional
2. Establishing the coaching agreement
Co-Creating the Relationship
3. Establishing trust and intimacy with the client
4. Coaching presence
5. Active listening
6. Powerful Questions
7. Direct Communications
Facilitating Learning and Results
8. Creating Awareness
9. Designing Actions
10. Planning and Goal Setting
11. Managing Process and Accountability
(Retrieved 17 December, 2002, from www.coachfederation.org)
These competencies are a great starting point
in understanding what coaches do. Unfortunately, there has been
no research to discover if indeed coaches do what is laid out
in the ICF's list. As important as these are, to date there
is no evidence that coaches actually follow these guidelines
when coaching. Although not in the scope of this paper, this
area of coaching requires further research and validation of
Culled from the research on executive, management,
and business literature coaching, mainstream books and article
and the researcher's own experience as a coach, an understanding
does begin to emerge as to what tools coaches use to support
their clients in achieving success. These tools are used within
the context of any type of coaching, regardless if the coach
is working with an executive or professional, business owner,
or simply an individual that is seeking to enhance his or her
life. Bivens (1996) contends that there are four techniques
for effective coaching. These four aspectsare as follows:
1. Ask empowering questions
2. Set goals
3. Clarify current Reality
4. Give feedback freely.
According to Bivens (1996), the single most powerful
thing a coach does is to ask powerful nonjudgmental questions
which help raise the awareness of the performer and increase
his or her focus. MacRae offers that the coach's primary role
is simple, ask questions. Borkowski adds that questioning, probes
or prompts are the coach's primary tools to get the client to
scan his or her thoughts and feelings and focus on the critical
variables and contexts. Coaches do not claim to have the answers;
what they do have are the powerful questions that will move
the client along in his or her discovery of what is truly important.
Bivens (1996) contends that by coaching the clients
to find their own answers, the coach creates an environment
within which they make clear distinctions about current reality,
create options, and most importantly, take action because the
solution is theirs. Coaches empower with questions. Examples
of empowering questions according to Bivens (p. 52) are:
· What result would you like to achieve?
· How would that change this situation?
· What would that bring you?... the team?... the company?
· What is your most powerful next step?
· What resources would you need?
· What obstacles, if any, do you anticipate? How might
you minimize them?
· When will you complete this step?
· How can I best coach you?
Bivens continues, "The most vivid ah-ha for
anyone willing to try this approach is how often the answer
lies within the person being coached. All we have to do is ask
the right questions as the coach" (Bivens, 1996, p. 52).
Norvell emphasized that "working toward goals in a deliberate
manner is what coaching is about" (Norvell, 1998, p. 3).
A coaching relationship supports the client with setting goals,
staying focused on those goals, and overcoming obstacles. Like
their counterparts in athletic coaches, coaches will not run
the races, rather they support the client is discovering how
to achieve what he or she wants and how to set benchmarks for
performance along the way. Because coaching is action oriented,
goal setting is vital to the process to support the client in
knowing what actions to take and to measure his or her success.
Coaching is about setting goals based on what the client wants
and values and then supporting the client through the process
of achieving those goals.
In coaching, goal setting involves setting long-term
goals, as well as short- term and sub-goals to those long-term
goals in order to accomplish the desired results. According
Once a long term goal is established, a more immediate goal
for the coaching session is determined. This ensures that the
coach is indeed facilitating the creative thought processes
of the person being coached. It also helps both people know
when the session is complete. Mutual goals, both long term and
session goals, are established through dialogue and the use
of empowering questions. After goal setting, the next step is
to clarify current reality. (Bivens, 1996, p. 4)
Clarify Current Reality
Before coaching can begin, the coach and client must be very
clear on where the client is in his or her life, career, and
level of satisfaction. Before a plan can be created to support
the client in moving forward, the coach and client must know
where the client is moving from. This process requires a dialog
with the client to establish what is really going on in his
or her life. Although this may sound like common sense, oftentimes
clients are not clear about what is really going on in his and
her life and need assistance to sort everything out. Bivens
points out that
As important as goal setting is, an accurate picture of current
reality is equally important and, typically, harder to determine.
Since it is the starting line for our goal, we can only generate
effective options for action if we know where we truly are in
relation to the goal. (Bivens, 1996, p. 8)
Obtaining a clear picture of the client's perspective
and where he or she is in life is an important step in successfully
moving forward in the coaching.
Providing feedback to the client is one of the
coache's primary roles. The coach supports the client by sharing
his or her observations about what the coach notices. Bivens
points out that "feedback serves two purposes for human
development, it helps us know what worked and what didn't"
(Bivens, 1996, p. 9). MacRae points out that the primary role
of the coach is to "ask the right questions and provide
accurate feedback" (MacRae, 2002, p 3.). A coach can often
see what a client cannot see. Borkowski emphasized the importance
of feedback as follows, "Feedback: by acting as a mirror
the coach allows the client to see that which resides in their
blind-spots. We all have blind-spots and we need others to help
us see them" (Borkowski, 2001, p. 4).
According to Isley, "sustained coaching and motivation,
tailored to each person's needs, can drive greater success than
a start-and-stop, one-size-fits-all approach that focuses more
on penalties for failure and less on coaching for success"
(Isley, 2001, p.8). Greco points out that,
The experience may sound a little New Agey, and it is. But people
at the top of their game, any game, are turning to coaches for
championship, egging on, and bar-raising. Andreas Boccelli has
a coach, Tiger Woods has a coach, even George W. Bush and Al
Gore had coaches. (Greco, 2001, p. 30)
People are hiring coaches in record numbers. There
are several reasons for this phenomenon. There are many people
who are tired of just getting by in life and are ready to do
something special and meaningful with their lives. Although
they are ready to do more with their lives and live life more
fully, they don't have the skills or experience to know what
steps need to be taken. A coach can offer another perspective
and help the client create a plan to make the changes he or
she wants in life.
People are beginning to realize that many of their
dreams and goals that seemed like pipe dreams can become a reality.
People are less willing to settle for less and are more willing
to take the risk that needs to be taken to make their dreams
come true. A coach has a large tool kit of skills and techniques
that support the client in making their dreams and goals come
true. In today's economic environment people now have the time
and resources to invest in themselves and in the personal growth
required to transform their dreams and goals into reality.
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