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Coaching is a journey which transports a person from one place to another. This is completed through appropriate questioning, as a coach we ask and never tell.

In my experience, clients are often unclear of what coaching is and what they can and cannot expect. You will often find yourself in a position of explaining the focus of coaching before they embark on the coaching journey. Often it is easier to explain what coaching is not.

In short, coaching is a process that is owned by the client. They can choose to explore or not explore areas of skill or knowledge and the coach cannot force them. The client controls the entire process, they set their own objectives, timescales and are the owners of all tasks. It is the commitment that they show which will determine the success of the process.

Coaching focuses on the present, setting goals and moving forward. Coaching is about extracting information from clients, they have the solution! Although they may not realise this it. It is your job to help them to uncover the solution and to create action.

Let’s explore what coaching is not; Coaching is not therapy. It should not focus on your past, healing emotional wounds, or resolving symptoms, such as those of anxiety or depression. Therapists look to uncover problems and analyse problems by asking ‘why?’ they look at something that needs fixing. On the reverse side a coach focuses on the present and the future, curiosity drives questions to help the client discover his/her own strengths and greatness.

Coaching is not consulting or mentoring. A consultant or mentor provides answers or guidance to problems. They are viewed as the expert and often have a student-teacher relationship. They focus on career successes and progress and give advice and show how to do things. On the reverse side a coach is detached from the outcome; focusing on the client and their personal journey. They should never be expected to know all the answers and to solve them for the client.

Coaching is not a friendship. A friendship is a two-way process with give and take. Coaching focuses solely on the client.

Having considered the above, we must then ask ourselves, who is appropriate to carry out coaching? This will depend on the type of coaching that is being conducted. As a general rule, we must make sure that both parties are able to relax and have an open and honest relationship. Therefore, often it is inappropriate for coaching to be conducted by anyone who has an interest in the outcome. Having said that coaching can and is often used by managers within sessions such as appraisals where it is appropriate to extract information from an employee that can be used for their benefit.

Most coaching relationships consist of the coach being an external party or someone who does not regularly work with the client. This increases the chance of forming a successful coaching relationship.