What is Coaching?

As a leader, a manager, or someone who sets high professional standards for yourself, the pressure to perform can be intense and trusted partners hard to find.  How should you communicate your strategic vision while ensuring concrete progress in the near term?  How should you model both fairness and consistency under the scrutiny of peers or subordinates?  And how much attention should you pay to that part of you that wonders whether this is really what you ought to be doing with your career, with your life?

Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate every question alone.  You can choose to work with a coach who will support and challenge you to meet the goals you set, a coach who will help you understand yourself and your options.  You can choose to build a team of two — you and your coach — who will work together to uncover more possibilities and the path to realize them.

At its core, coaching is a special relationship built through powerful conversations focused relentlessly on a purpose that you, the client, set.  The coach creates a safe, confidential environment for you to explore your options and to ask yourself the questions that might make you squirm in a boardroom or a team meeting.  The coach can apply tools, such as assessment instruments or conceptual models, to create learning opportunities, and the coach can offer insights drawn from prior experience to serve your best interests.

  • The mechanics of a coaching relationship vary from client to client, but  typically a coach and client might meet twice monthly for an hour in person or via telephone, exchanging email or brief phone calls when needed between sessions.
  • Initial sessions typically involve goal-setting and context to judge the success of the relationship’s outcomes at the end of the coaching agreement, when coach and client assess the results together.
  • Coaching relationships typically last from 4 to 12 months, depending on the scope or difficulty of the outcomes the client wants to create; the predetermined time span encourages focus and accountability while enabling opportunities to emerge as the client experiments with change.
  • When engaged on retainer, a coach may also join you at business meetings or team activities to gain additional insight and to aid you in keeping new commitments to yourself.