There are many good reasons for getting a coach, and I tend to think they broadly fall into two camps:

  • EITHER you want to change, or at least improve, OR
  • you want to deal well with inevitable change or challenge.

Given a trigger that broadly falls into one of the above, we then hit the challenge of selecting the best coach for the job, and this is the point where many have a tendency to carefully slot coaching into the pigeon-hole in their mind entitled "Coaching".

What does "coaching" mean to you?

For some people, it's about addressing performance issues. Coaching can be very helpful in that scenario, perhaps not for the reasons one would anticipate, though. Performance management should typically fall into the role of a people manager, not a coach. If performance is sub-par for an extended period, I'd suggest the people manager could do with some coaching.

For others, coaching means something along the lines of sharing wisdom. This is an important distinction to make - strictly speaking, a coach should be non-directive and therefore not be providing advice to their clients. That role is reserved for a mentor, which can look a lot like coaching and yet is importantly different.

Then we have those who see coaches as a warm, friendly support. That's another important role to play, and indeed there are plenty who market themselves as coaches for whom this is their role, almost bordering on the role of a therapist. It is lacking in challenge, though, and a good coach is one who offers a high level of support and a high level of challenge.

Finally, we have the role I believe a coach should play: that of someone who is focused on systemic results. In a session with this sort of coach, the coachee finds their holistic awareness being heightened. That means an increased awareness of their behaviour and worldview assumptions, and the impact it has on others they directly and indirectly interact with, including (for example) future generations.

The difference that final coach can make is substantial - are we selling ourselves short when we settle for one of the earlier options?