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Imagine your life as the wheels of a vehicle. How well would the vehicle roll along? Would the wheel be fully in balance with plenty of air providing a smooth and effortless ride? Or would the wheel be out of balance and flat in areas causing the ride to be bumpy and requiring a lot more energy to move along? In either case, the field of personal and professional coaching offers a means to help individuals improve and maintain the balance of their (life) wheel and then take it to a level never thought possible.
What is Coaching?
When most people think of coaching, they think of it in terms of sports. And just as professional athletes turn to experts and coaches to improve their game, professionals in business seek out coaches to improve their lives both personally and professionally taking them, their careers, and their businesses to the next level.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF), the professional association of personal and business coaches that seeks to preserve the integrity of coaching around the globe, defines professional coaching as “an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, observe and customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.”
Distinctions Between Coaching and Other Professions
Often coaches are confused with other professionals such as therapists, consultants, mentors, etc. While it does deal with many facets of the individual (physical, mental, social, and spiritual), its focus is not psychotherapy or emotional healing. Coaches work with clients in getting them from where they presently are to where they want to be, helping them to strategize their action plans to bridge this gap. Therefore, the coach’s client work is present and future-focused. It is action-oriented and assumes the client has the ability to take the action required to move forward. If a client is unable to move into action due to issues within their past, the coach may refer these clients to a therapist to work with them in resolving the issues that may be interfering with their action and outside the realm of the coach. Consultants are usually hired by clients to provide a solution, whereas coaches assist the client in creating their own solutions. Consulting deals with the “what” (or the process) and coaching deals with the “who” (the person). Similarly, to consultants, mentors are utilized to provide advice from their area of expertise. Mentoring relationships are not usually inter-developmental and do not always create long-term results. They may instead foster dependency on the part of both the mentor and individual whereas coaching provides clients with support to develop and create change within themselves.
Benefits of Coaching
When individuals are coached, their foundation is strengthened allowing them to:
When coaching is utilized within organizations, there are significant intangible benefits to the business such as fostering entrepreneurial thinking and building a shared vision as well as:
According to The ICF Global Coaching Client Study Executive Summary (April 2009), it reports, “The vast majority (86%) of those able to provide figures to calculate company ROI indicated that their company had at least made their investment back. “In fact, almost one-fifth (19%) indicated an ROI of at least 50 (5000%) times the initial investment while a further 28% saw an ROI of 10 to 49 times the investment. The median company return is 700%. This indicates that typically a company can expect a return of seven times the initial investment.
Other studies indicate positive ROIs as well:
Staying Ahead of the Curve
While coaches are not currently required by state or federal laws to be licensed to practice, there is the danger of acquiring individuals that may not have the adequate skill set to deliver the true benefit to their clients. The ICF recommends the following Coach Selection Recommendations:
Trust and Compatibility are Key to the Relationship
Today’s world is moving faster than ever before. To stay ahead requires investing in yourself, your team, and your organization. Coaches can act as your personal sounding board, strategic thinker, and accountability partner providing clients/teams with real-time feedback to help remove obstacles that get in the way of their pathway to success. Get your wheels in balance and your life, career, or business back on track. Invest in a Coach!
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