There seems to be a lot of misconception, even among “coaches,” about what coaching is. A lot of people are using the term coach for a different role; while I agree there can be some overlap, the primary focus and purpose of various personal and organizational development services significantly differs. Perhaps the term coach is seen as the new “in” title. Hopefully, all of us want what is best for the client – it is up to the client what is best for them.
For hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of years, athletes have had coaches that came along side of them to provide what they needed to be the fastest, strongest, highest, etc., they could be. For decades, under perhaps different titles, coaching has occurred, both formally and informally, in businesses and organizations, in order to help them become more efficient, productive, profitable, etc. Today, I want to talk about what Professional Coaching IS NOT:
• A Professional Coach is NOT a Counselor/Therapist. Counseling (or therapy) can be a vital need in someone’s life, and play a very important role in the emotional and/or spiritual healing of another. Normally, a counselor’s focus is on past circumstances or events and how they have affected the client’s current emotions, decision-making, behavior, habits, and spirituality in a negative or self-sabotaging way. The counselor then provides advice, exercises, self-talk, or uses a variety of other methods to help the client make changes to both their view of the past and how they respond to it. Coaching does not focus on past events; its role is not that of a therapist, taking you through a healing process. A brief discussion of aspects of your past may be necessary to fully enlighten your coach, but it is for information purposes only.
• A Professional Coach is NOT a Mentor. A mentor is someone who has “been there, done that” in the same or similar area or goals that you desire, and is willing to walk with you on your journey down the same path. They will give lots of advice, point out pitfalls you may encounter and, if you have a brutally honest mentor, will speak up when they think you are screwing it up. Mentors are valued for their insight, and everyone should have a person they can learn from the successes and failures of. Coaching does not focus on the coach’s past successes and failures, or on giving advice. A great coach may have never worked in your field; they will spend more time asking questions than answering them. They may have suggestions to help you on your road to success, but the focus is always on you and your organization.
• A Professional Coach is NOT a Consultant. Consultants have been trained on specific strategies, procedures, or best practices. They are often considered the expert in their field of study, or deeply familiar with your specific industry, culture, or area of concern through various circumstances. The #1 product a person or company wants from a consultant is information and advice. Coaching is first and foremost focused on the client. While a great coach may also be a great consultant and, as a complimentary service, offer information and advice to help you move forward, their purpose is to draw out of you what you already know, and to help you create a strategy of success and a plan of action, based on your desires, strengths, goals, and current knowledge base.
All of the above services have a very important role to play in your business or personal success story. You have to decide what that role is.
And what exactly IS a Professional Coach? See you next week!