What Is Coaching



 ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable

(International Coaching Federation, 2014)

Life coaching is an intentional relationship where a coach supports a client in developing vision and goals for their life and utilizes multiple strategies to empower the client to use their personal power to discover their own solutions.The nature of a coaching relationship is empowerment and accountability.  It is assumed that the client desires to see real change in their lives.  The coach, as a change expert, empowers the client to take control of their lives, fulfill their potential, and reach their goals.Coaches challenge, stretch, push, and hold the client accountable all the while communicating an affirmation of “I believe in you.” 

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What Coaching Is Not


 Counseling Therapy vs. Coaching

Counseling deals with helping people get well.  The focus of counseling is healing wounds from past emotional traumas from life experiences or relationships.  A counselor engages with the client in order to diagnose the problem to bring them to emotional and psychological wholeness.Coaching is future focused.  It is not fixated with the past.  Coaches enable clients to take control of their lives through actionable strategies for the improvements and goals the clients want to see manifest in their lives.

Mentoring vs. Coaching

In a mentoring relationship, a client seeks a mentor because of their perceived expertise in a portion of their life that they are hoping to develop.  The mentor provides advice, wisdom, and counsel that is born of their experience and imparts it to the client.In a coaching relationship, the coach may or may not be an expert in the field of their client.  Expertise in the field isn’t necessary.  The role of the coach isn’t to advise or counsel, but it honors the client’s adequacy to solve their own problems and provides the support and accountability for the client to set and reach their own goals.

Consulting vs. Coaching

Consultants work with an organization and individuals as experts in their field who diagnose problems and develop strategies to help them accomplish their goals.Coaches do not give solutions.  Again, coaches believe that individuals and organizations can solve their problems if they are given tools to enable them to self-discover. 

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 If you were to be a consultant to the CEO of a large clothing retailer, you’d be expected to know the field and possess a large degree of experience (meaning success) in retail sales.  Your expertise will limit you to only working with a certain clientele.In coaching there is a great flexibility because we are generalists.  We are experts at being change agents.  When we develop relationships with clients that require them to set their own goals, objectives, and action items, we find that we can work with clients of any issue or profession.Additionally, each client’s solution is going to be as unique as they are; so instead of a one-size-fits-all approach with what has worked for others, we allow new strategies and solutions to be created by the client.As we listen and ask the right questions, the client will ultimately verbalize the answer.  No matter how long it takes, we don’t abandon coaching to start giving advice.  We maintain belief in the person until the client comes to a solution.Coaching is influence; it is not leading by authority.  Coaches have an influential role in the relationship with the client, but, as the client is empowered, they maintain the role of responsibility in problem solving, action steps, goals & objectives, and the final outcome. 


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