What is Coaching?5 min read

Coaching is synonymous with sports. We have all heard of football coaches. However, there is increasing buzz around coaching in the workplace. You may have come across the term life coach, too. In this post, I will:

  • Outline what is meant by the term coaching
  • Explore what some of the benefits of coaching are
  • Highlight reading that has increased my understanding of coaching

* Please note this post includes affiliate links. This means if you click the link and make a purchase I may receive a commission.

What is meant by coaching?

Have you ever played for a sports team? If you did, then the chances are you had a coach(es). They would coach you in set plays, teamwork, passing, shooting, fitness and more. In this sense, coaching is nothing new. However, when considering coaching in the workplace this is a relatively newer term. It is often misunderstood and can be confused with training, mentoring, consulting and other well-known skills.

What coaching isn't

One useful way to know what coaching is, is to have an understanding of what it isn’t. Coaching isn’t:

  • Giving someone solutions to a problem.
  • Teaching new skills.
  • Having your own agenda to influence a specific outcome.
  • Talking more than the coachee.
  • Giving advice or saying ‘what you would do’ in the situation.

So, what is coaching? Coaching is a conversation which impacts the coachee’s understanding of their knowledge, behaviour, values, attitudes, strengths and much more. Chodron (2016), states that an effective coaching conversation influences someone’s learning, behaviour and progress (pg. 7). The coachee is the best person to judge whether a coaching conversation took place. A coaching conversation maybe 10 minutes, it may be two hours, it may be in a formal setting or it may be in a corridor. As stated by Chodron (2016), a coaching conversation is likely to have taken place when the following criteria are met.

  •  They and their situation was the focus of the conversation.
  •  The conversation benefited their thinking, actions and learning.
  • They wouldn’t have benefited in this way and within this time frame without the conversation.

What Are the Benefits of Coaching

Coaching can carry a number of benefits both in the workplace and personal life. As an apprentice coach, I have never experienced the coachee benefits of coaching. Therefore, the benefits described are all based on literature and anecdotes from colleagues who have been coached. As a coaching apprentice, the literature discussing coaching has been of extreme value. The biggest benefit I have felt as a coaching apprentice is an increase in self-awareness. I naively considered myself self-aware. This isn’t unusual, Eurich (2019) estimated in their study that only 10-15% of people are truly self-aware, however, many more people believe themselves to be self-aware.

So, what are some of the benefits of coaching:

  • Increased engaged
  • Increased motivation
  • A better understanding of self, values and aspirations
  • More confidence and focus
  • Clear goals
  • Increased self-awareness

Awesome Coaching Books

There is a plethora of coaching guidance, websites and books that discuss what coaching is. Of course, these vary in quality,  accuracy and how user-friendly they are. In this section of the post, I share books that I have found useful as a coaching apprentice. This is material that has really broadened my understanding of what is meant by coaching. All these books are available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited and many of them are free or have a small additional cost.

Coaching Books

This book has chapters written by a variety of authors. It is a great book for those who want to gain a good understanding of what coaching is, what the principles of coaching are, the fundamental skills of coaching and the barriers to coaching. The book includes an appendix with a toolkit to practise coaching behaviours and build assignments. Chapter 5 and Chapter 8 are particular favourites as they discuss self-awareness and how it links to being an effective coach. Self-awareness is something I will discuss in more detail throughout my posts.

As discussed above, self-awareness is key to effective coaching. I have read a lot of this book and it has significantly increased my understanding of self-awareness and why it is important. Chapter 1 builds the foundations of self-awareness. It explains how self-awareness is the first component of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman discusses why emotional intelligence is important. In addition, it argues that emotional intelligence can be more important than IQ.

Chapter 2 builds on Chapter 1 by discussing what self-awareness is and how you can cultivate it. Tasha Eurich explains internal and external self-awareness and why you need a balance of both to be truly self-aware. I found Chapter 9 useful, too. This chapter discussed how to gain negative feedback. This may sound like something you don’t want however, negative feedback, when received well is important to achieve growth.

If you are keen to have a better understanding of self-awareness and why it is important this is a great book.

If you have ever received feedback from someone that you didn’t like or don’t agree with this book is excellent at explaining why feedback is challenging to receive well. It discusses the three triggers when receiving feedback, seeing your blind spots and how receiving feedback well helps your growth.

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