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What Is Coaching? Print

Most people think of sports when they think of coaching. The attitude and activities of the Olympic coach are much in alignment with an executive, corporate, or life coach as well. However, the tools and skills are different. The best and simplest definition of coaching is:

“Successful coaching is a mutual conversation that follows a predictable process and leads to superior performance, commitment to sustained improvement and positive relationships.”

-- Dennis C. Kinlaw, “Coaching for Commitment”


Observing, Listening, Questioning, Moving through the Gap, Informing, Challenging and Endorsing/Encouraging.

One example of a model for coaching is from CoachWorks International.

1. Establish Focus

Where are you now, and where do you want to be? What is missing? What needs to be achieved? Where do you want to go?

2. Discover Possibilities

What is possible? What can be done with what is known or currently “real”?

3. Plan the Action

This is the time for strategizing the way to get from where you are to where you want to be.

4. Remove Barriers

What stands in the way? How can it be removed? Remove it!

5. Recap

Go over the plan again, then, as Nike says, “Just do it!”

That is the nutshell version of coaching. Obviously, it is overly simplified here. Coaching is composed of many skills and techniques all focused on allowing the individual or group to achieve their very best.

Coaching, according to the International Coach Federation, honors the other person as the expert in his/her life and work, and believes that the person is creative and resourceful. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the person wants to achieve
  • Encourage the person in his/her discovery process
  • Elicit solutions and strategies from the person for action

Coaching is the ability to partner with others for focusing on what the person wants to address, encouraging intentional action, and reviewing to reach clear agreements about the actions.