Have you ever found yourself wishing you could stop time long enough to get caught up at work and home? Have you wished you knew why you don’t seem to handle stress as well as you think you should or wished you were more organized, productive, or better able to handle difficult situations? What about wishing you could break out of the proverbial rut, try something new, or finally reach a specific goal? Everyone has wishes but also have something holding them back from making their wishes come true. The Institute of Coaching reported 86% of companies that engaged coaching services for the members of their organization felt they recouped their investment and then some. More than 70% of the individuals who received coaching shared they benefited from “improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.” Partnering with a professional coach is a proven method for transforming your personal and professional wishes into reality.
What is Coaching?
When people hear the term coach they often think first of an athletic coach who teaches players the rules and skills of a specific sport, holds regular practice sessions, offers encouragement and critique on how they play the game, and pushes them to improve so the team wins. This type of coach tells their players exactly what to do and how to do it while ensuring they follow through. Coaches often keep or lose their jobs based on the team stats including the number of games and tournaments won. The coach may even become famous as a result of those statistics. What sports fan doesn’t recognize the names Tom Osborne, Tom Landry, or Vince Lombardi?
Instead of thinking of an athletic coach, some might be familiar with the terms fitness coach, health coach, sales coach, birth coach, life coach, faith coach, career coach, or even fashion coach. In our current culture, it seems anyone who helps a person become better at whatever they set out to do can call themselves a coach. Terms like teacher, consultant, tutor, mentor, or counselor have become synonymous with coach. While there are some similarities and overlap in skills, they do not all fulfill the same objective. There are many definitions and applications for coaching. Coaching might be formal or informal. It might be internal to an organization that has coaches on staff or managers trained in coaching skills, or it might be external where individuals and organizations hire an independent professional coach or one employed at a coaching firm.
To help us understand what coaching is, it may be helpful to look at what it is not. Check out this list and see if you can pick out the differences.
Teacher: Imparts knowledge and tries to help students discover and acquire the knowledge themselves.
Tutor: Focuses on building concrete skills and helping students with what they immediately need to keep up assignments.
Consultant: An expert who analyzes problems and makes recommendations to solve them.
Counselor: Deals mostly with a person’s past and trauma, seeking to heal it.
Mentor: A more senior individual who imparts wisdom, opportunities, and counsel to a more junior person.
Each role involves a relationship between the practitioner and the client. This is also true of coaching which is a relationship between the coach and coachee. Tony Stoltzfus, author of Leadership Coaching, summed up a plethora of coaching definitions by stating, “Simply put, coaching is a radical belief in people, practiced in a consistent, disciplined way in order to help others grow.” In his book, Christian Coaching, Dr. Gary Collins wrote, “Coaching is the art and practice of enabling individuals and groups to move from where they are to where they want to be.” At Dandelion Leadership Coaching we define coaching as a partnership between healthy individuals to transform personal and professional wishes into reality.
Origin and Future of Coaching
Collins traces the origin of the word coach to the 1500s when it referred to a horse-drawn vehicle that got people from one place to another. It later referred to buses with rows of seats getting people from where they were to where they wanted to go. By the 1880s, the term had moved into athletics where a coach is a person who helps athletes move from one level of performance to another. Eventually, the term became popular with musicians, actors, and public speakers who had “coaches” who helped them “improve their skills, overcome obstacles, remain focused, and get to where they want to be.” It was only a few decades ago that coaching moved into the corporate world in response to massive and rapid advances in technology and the resulting flood of information.
According to the International Coach Academy, the first coach in history books of coaching is a man named Thomas Leonard. In the early 1980s, Leonard was a financial planner. While working with his clients, he began to realize that a lot of concepts his clients were struggling with were outside the scope of handling money and saving for retirement. He decided to take a holistic approach to financial planning by looking at his clients’ health and wellness, work/life balance, relationships, and spirituality. He eventually developed the following definition of a coach:
A coach is your partner in achieving your personal goals,
Your champion during turnaround,
Your trainer in communication and life skills,
Your sounding board when making choices,
Your motivator when strong actions are called for,
Your unconditional support when you take a hit,
Your mentor in personal development,
Your co-designer when developing an extraordinary project,
Your beacon during stormy times,
Your wake-up call if you don’t hear your own, and most importantly:
Your partner in living the life you know you’re ready for, personally and professionally.”
Today, coaching is big business! The International Coach Federation estimated that there are nearly 54,000 coaches worldwide, with about 33% of them operating in the United States. They further estimate the U.S. market value for personal coaching was $1.02 billion in 2016. They expect this market to reach $1.34 billion by 2022. Additionally, scientific research on coaching proving a scientific basis for coaching results is on the rise and professional coaching can now be found in every part of the world. Julia Stewart from the School of Coaching Mastery believes the current trends in our society indicate that within the next 30 years society will evolve with more people living values-driven lives as a result of coaching growth.
Who Benefits from Coaching?
The short answer is everyone. The Dandelion Leadership Coaching (DLC) answer is leaders and emerging professionals. My answer is YOU. The Institute of Coaching, which is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, states the “personal benefits of coaching are as wide-ranging as the individuals involved.” They listed the following as benefits reported by coaching clients:
Establish and take action toward achieving goals
Become more self-reliant
Gain more job and life satisfaction
Contribute more effectively to the team and the organization
Take greater responsibility and accountability for actions and commitments
Work more easily and productively with others
Communicate more effectively
Other reports indicate clients gain confidence, self-awareness, and reduce procrastination. Coaching provides space for personal development. Clearly, individuals benefit from coaching. Organizations also greatly benefit from coaching as a leadership tool. Some of the corporate benefits reported by organizations include:
Empowers individuals and encourages them to take responsibility
Increases employee and staff engagement
Improves individual and team performance
Helps identify and develop high potential employees
Helps identify both organizational and individual strengths and development opportunities
Helps motivate and empower individuals to excel
Demonstrates organizational commitment to human resource development
The Society of Human Resources described coaching as a commonly used method of employee development that generates positive business outcomes. They further stated, “a strong coaching culture has been linked to increased business performance and employee engagement.”
If you are someone who is open to feedback and willing to make changes that lead to transforming wishes into reality, you will benefit from coaching. When I dreamt of getting a doctorate, I talked myself out of it because I thought I was too old. I told a friend I would be 53 when I graduated, and asked, "so what's the point?" She replied, “You’re going to be 53 either way. Would you rather be 53 with a doctorate or 53 wishing you had gotten a doctorate?” I graduate next year.
What’s your wish? Let’s work together to make it a reality.
Blank, S. (2018, January 12). What’s the difference between a mentor, a coach and a teacher? https://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/whats-the-difference-between-a-mentor-a-coach-and-a-teacher
Coaching in a business environment. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/coachinginabusinessenvironment.aspx
Collins, G. R. (2009). Christian coaching: Helping others turn potential into reality (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
International Coach Academy. (2014, May 15). The origins of coaching. https://coachcampus.com/resources/the-origins-of-coaching/
LaRosa, J. (2018, February 12). U.S. personal coaching industry tops $1 billion, and growing. https://blog.marketresearch.com/us-personal-coaching-industry-tops-1-billion-and-growing
Rosen, P. (n.d.). The difference between tutoring and academic coaching. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/tutors/types-of-tutoring/the-difference-between-tutoring-and-academic-coachingBenefits of Coaching. https://instituteofcoaching.org/coaching-overview/coaching-benefits
Sime, C. (2019, March 28). How does coaching actually help leaders?https://www.forbes.com/sites/carleysime/2019/03/28/how-does-coaching-actually-help-leaders/#773072601645
Stewart, J. (2018). Coaching trends and the future of coaching. https://www.schoolofcoachingmastery.com/coaching-blog/bid/55009/coaching-trends-the-future-of-coaching
Stoltzfus, T. (2005). Leadership coaching: The disciplines, skills and heart of a Christian coach. Virginia Beach, VA: Coach 22.