By Karen Chamberlain
The ICF (International Coaching Federation) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”. For me I’d add to this that it’s a quality and open conversation where the person being coached has the opportunity to be asked and answer questions, feels listened to, and has the chance to “talk out loud” to clarify their goals and work through their topic or challenge/dilemma. It can also lead to that wonderful “light bulb” moment!
I’ve always enjoyed and seen the value in coaching, but I became even more of an advocate about 8 years ago when I received a series of coaching sessions which I initially sought out to help myself see “the woods through the trees”.
Up until this point I’d coached others, designed & facilitated coaching workshops to up skill managers to coach their staff, and been coached myself, all of which delivered really positive results.
So what made this particular coaching experience so positive and impactful?
On reflection (which is something I like to do, reflect) it was due to a number of factors:
- I was coached over a series of coaching sessions over a period of months
- There was a structure to the coaching process and we agreed a clear way of working together including our responsibilities from the onset
- Whilst there was structure, there was also the flexibility to adapt a session and for me to influence the focus of the session
- My coach and I developed a trusting relationship, where I could speak honestly (my coach wasn’t my boss, or anyone I worked with closely, which perhaps helped me talk more freely, and provided me with a different level of objectivity).
- I took ownership of the outputs, and with increased confidence and clarity (through being asked the right questions, being listened to and challenged at times) I saw clearly what I needed to do, and I did it!
- I agreed actions and timescales at the end of each session, which I knew I would be providing an update on (accountability)
So what is the value of coaching? For me, it is so hard to sum up in one sentence – but I will try to keep it brief!. Coaching can be great for:
- Personal development; for example, to develop a skill such as influencing, time management, or managing change
- Performance improvement; to focus on what needs to be improved, to pinpoint “by when and how”, and to formulate and review a plan for those enhancements to come to life
- Improving self-confidence and wellbeing
- Career coaching; to facilitate the process of exploring the right career path and considering what opportunities and possibilities are available
- Problem solving; to identify what is the problem and key issues, and pinpoint steps to take to move forward
And many more! As an experienced coach, coaching is highly rewarding; facilitating the improvement and growth in another person’s skill, performance, confidence or clarity on future goals is wonderful.
So who might benefit from receiving coaching? Everyone – from directors to managers of any sized business, from sales representatives to hospitality workers and teachers.
As a small independent business owner who values ongoing self-development, I sourced my own coach last year to help drive my business forward (in fact, we continue to provide each other with peer coaching), which I so value. For me our coaching also highlights the importance of the role, skills and mind-set of both the person coaching AND the person being coached.
When I’m being coached, I value being asked questions to explore my thinking and ideas, and a chance to talk through my ideas out loud. At the end of each session I walk away with clear actions and next steps, and a skip in my step as I can feel my motivation levels rising. I look forward to my next coaching session, and decide carefully the topic for each session to ensure I make the most of our time together.
So I would urge anyone who is considering seeking coaching, to take the leap of faith and make this happen. Do consider in advance what you hope to gain from coaching, and what you’d hope to expect from your coach.
Karen Chamberlain, Director, is an experienced, professional and respected trainer, facilitator and coach, with over 20 years learning & development experience. KC Learning & Development is a highly professional, customer focused and friendly independent provider of Personal & Team Development Workshops, and Coaching.
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