Perhaps it is best to start with 'what is coaching?'
There are many different definitions of coaching that have developed within the various professional bodies that quality assure the coaching community. The International Coach Federation (ICF) definition is provided in full below, followed by some additional interpretation.
The ICF define coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Other ways of describing coaching include a conversation between coach and coachee around a goal identified by the latter. The conversation is one in which the coach facilitates increased (self) awareness on the part of the coachee leading to them arriving at an action plan for which they, the coachee, take full responsibility.
Some of my coachees have been very clear that they consider a coaching session to be a time and space where they have the opportunity to think out loud without fear of judgement.
To access more information about the code of ethics and a list of coaching competencies from the ICF click the arrow. To find out more about the difference between coaching and mentoring you are welcome to review my submission to the ILM on this subject by clicking the pdf icon.
Alpamayo, a beautiful mountain in northern Peru and inspiration for my company name. Alpamayo is a metaphor for each of the key elements in my coaching delivery: trust, support, challenge, change.
You might find the simple graphic to the right helpful. It locates the four best known talking approaches in a matrix defined by 'ask or tell' and 'problem or solution focussed' axes. The former is the practioner's approach and the latter is the focus of the conversation. Coaching is based on the coach asking questions and the conversation is looking for a solution. In a real coaching conversation some of these lines are a little blurred and with the client's permission it can stray into mentoring and counselling territory to a certain extent.