What is Coaching?

What is coaching?

Be honest. If someone tells you they are a coach, do you know what that means? Of course, I mean AFTER you clarify they do not coach a sport, do you know what they mean when they say they are a coach? If the answer is “no,” do not feel bad. Allow me to clarify what executive coaching is and what it looks like at Excellence Unbounded.

Sometimes it is easiest to understand what something is by, first, gaining clarity on what it is NOT. Let’s begin by first looking at two domains that are often confused with coaching: consulting and therapy. To be fair, this confusion can occur for a myriad of reasons.

First, some coaches provide a service that is a blend of coaching and consulting. This blurs the lines and makes it difficult for clients to distinguish between the services they are receiving.

Second, not all coaches subscribe to the same coaching approach. Some life coaches may straddle a domain between coaching and therapy while some business coaches may straddle a domain between coaching and consulting. Within the realm of executive coaches, some may focus on leadership while others may target niche areas such as productivity, executive presence, confidence, and many others. Which service is right for you?

That is a question that you must answer for yourself, but allow me to explain how I see all three.

  • Consulting is predominantly focused on problem-solving. The consultant defines the problem, and after adequate research, proposes recommended solutions, which they may also help implement. Consulting is a valuable industry for many reasons. If you need a problem solved and you do not necessarily possess the competencies to solve them (or you simply lack the time), consultants can add value by solving it for you.
  • Therapy, on the other hand, typically delves significantly into the client’s past in order to treat current issues. Therapy has a healing agenda. It focuses on the client’s past with the hope that resolving past events will allow the client to move forward in new ways in the future.

Both of these are honorable professions that provide significant value to those seeking those services. But neither of these should be confused with coaching, which has a forward-looking agenda that is set by the client’s desired objectives. Coaching should not involve advising or directing clients. Coaching, at its heart, focuses on building capacity in the client. Building capacity requires a client to transform their way of being. This transformation depends upon the client’s ability to both become a better observer of self and grow in their way of making meaning (translation: interpreting a situation and assigning a meaning). Thus, building capacity is incompatible with a directive or advisory approach. Transformation is an inside-out approach that cannot be directed externally.

How do I, at Excellence Unbounded, approach coaching? I see it as a collaborative partnership between the coach and the client that supports the client’s growth agenda. When I am working with clients, it is not my role to make recommendations or to drive the agenda. The client sets the agenda, and then we work together to co-create the road map for how we will get there. This road map reflects the intersection of the client’s goals with my knowledge, research and experience with leadership, adult development, neuroscience, and mindfulness. The design of the road map also intentionally incorporates elements designed to help clients develop in 4 capacities essential for those desiring to unlock new possibilities: Mindset, Courage, Resilience, and Innovation.

As a coach, I recognize the power of crafting unique, unconventional journeys for clients. I want to empower those trying to disrupt and innovate, and I do not think we will get there through the design of purely conventional journeys. Using inquiry, curiosity, gentle provocations and challenges, I aim to draw out a client’s wisdom. I use these tools (and many others that are co-created with the client) to support my client in building the capacity needed for where they are trying to go.

If, after reading this, you feel that coaching is right for you, let’s set up a discovery call. We can explore how Excellence Unbounded might help you build capacity and achieve your desired objectives through the design of your own unique, unconventional journey.