Welcome back to my blog series on coaching. So far, I’ve described what coaching is, what the work of coaching entails, and what actually happens during an engagement. In this article, I’ll dive into some of the distinctions about coaching that make it such a unique method for development.

As a way of kicking off this topic, I want to share this quote from Douglas Riddle at the Center for Creative Leadership.

This snippet is a wonderful description of the fullest potential of what coaching aspires to do and how it does so by fundamentally returning to the idea of the “radical competence of each person.” Underneath this headline are more nuanced distinctions as well. Let’s explore a few…

Coaching is Client-led

In coaching, you are the expert on your own work, your life, and your relationships. So we keep you in front and driving the direction of the conversation and the coaching. Every coaching conversation should be of highest and best use to you. This creates shared responsibility between you and the coach for making the engagement successful, and it also means that you can expect a highly personalized, highly impactful experience.

Coaches Have Unconditional Positive Regard for Clients

I always tell my clients that we are on your side, cheering you on. This doesn’t mean we don’t invite self-reflection, ownership of opportunities, and occasionally challenge your thinking or behavior around a topic; it’s just that everything comes from a place of believing clients are fundamentally good people, worthy of our respect. This creates a safe place for you to be vulnerable.

Clients are Whole, Resourceful, and Perfectly Situated to Lead Their Own Development

Closely related to the above two points and the idea of “radical competence,” coaches hold the belief that you have everything you need already – there’s nothing missing. Coaches act as a thought and accountability partner, but you are doing the work and are eminently qualified to do so. This creates conditions for you to own your journey, lean into your growing edges, and leave your comfort zones for new territory.

Coaching is Holistic

All coaching has a starting place which varies (work, life, health, relationships, etc.) but we believe the domains of life are inherently interconnected and to focus on one to the exclusion of the others is short-sighted. We are as attentive to your interior life  – emotional, spiritual, somatic – as we are to the concrete results you achieve.  We care about you as a person, not just as a worker or a leader. This means that you can expect to go broad and deep in working on your challenges, considering many angles and reflecting on your own current and desired experience of life.

Context Matters

Because coaching is client-led and so highly customized, we are keenly interested in context as well. This includes organizational, cultural, and other systemic context. Nobody is leading and living in a vacuum, and the circumstances and dynamics you face are highly relevant to the choices you make for how to think and what to do. Coaching helps you stand back and gain some objectivity around your context, which makes the work more effective.

As you can see, coaching is based on important philosophical principles that help make coaching a wonderful and powerful support. I hope the distinctions that I have outlined above give you a better understanding of what to expect if you engage in coaching. Reach out to me to schedule a call to learn more about what coaching can do for you.  Check out the next article in the series that will help you determine what to look for in a coach.