Why get a coach?
Coaching can be considered in a number of ways, including:
- As a method of personal development.
- As a way of planning career development and goals.
- For overcoming obstacles and difficulties in work or life.
- For working on aspirations and opportunities in life.
Each item on this list can be tackled with a whole range of other options, from therapy to training, self-study to groups and clubs. So why do many people choose coaching as their preferred choice of development?
What brings people to coaching?
The first thing that brings people to coaching, or indeed to many things, is it entering into their environment. They may have read something about it, heard a friend or colleague talk positively about having been coached, or even had a taster of coaching. In the education sector where I do much of my coaching, often school leaders come across coaching as part of their professional network activities.
The next thing is for individuals to have a connection or affinity with coaching. For those who prefer privacy and an internal monologue, coaching is unlikely to suit them. I have family members for whom coaching would be their idea of hell – all that talking about themselves doesn’t appeal! And for others, who know that they like talking, sharing and exploring, then coaching is likely to appeal to them.
And the final thing is a realisation, that coaching is unlike most other everyday interactions. We may well have friends and colleagues who are good listeners, kind people, supportive. But as friends, they will want their moment to talk and share, to make things feel reciprocal. Coaching isn’t like that. The coach doesn’t take their “turn” to share. They give the time, space and a judgement free zone over to the coachee, to use as they see best. This is new and different for many people.
What are the typical benefits of coaching?
There are well documented benefits from coaching, both on an individual and organisational level. Some of my favourites, for individuals, include:
- Clarity on next steps for challenging tasks.
- Increasing confidence in their own abilities.
- Improved performance and outputs at work.
- Positive and sustainable change.
- Ownership of the challenges, and of the solutions.
- A greater sense of satisfaction in their work and life.
Self-empowering is probably the word I would use to sum up what happens to coachees. As coaches we watch, observe and notice the gradual (or sudden) changes in individuals, as they progress through the coaching experience. The coach may be asking all the good questions, but it is the coachee that makes the changes happen.
Coaches have coaches
Unlike therapists or counsellors, there is no mandatory requirement for coaches to engage in being coached themselves. And yet, most coaches do. They either pay for regular coaching or engage in coaching exchange arrangements through a professional coaching association. Why do they do this? Two reasons:
Working on their own topics: because coaches know how useful being coached is, it is a favoured approach for coaches to take. In short – we know it works!
Developing coaching knowledge and skills: during the time that we are being coached, we are fully immersed in our own story, experience and plans. After the coaching session is over, most coaches reflect on the coaching experience itself: what the coach did well/less well; and how it felt for us to be the coachee, to help us better understand for the times that we are coaching.
One of the great things about coaching is that it is suitable at any time. We don’t have to come to coaching only when we are struggling and having difficulties. We can use it for goals and aspirations, or simply for just exploring things that are on our mind.
Whatever the reason that you are thinking about coaching, coming to it with topics that you want to work on is paramount. Choose well, bring something interesting to you along, and see what difference being coached makes.