What Is Coaching?

There are many different perspectives on what Coaching is and isn’t and how it differs from other development and support activities such as mentoring, training, consulting and counselling.

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential ... Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to 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.”

At Reach Coaching we specialise in executive coaching, or coaching in an organisational context.

We recognise the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership (IEC) approach, which describes the coaching relationship as “framed within an adult learning cycle that encourages a systematic, solution-focused process of -

  • setting goals,
  • taking actions that ensure sustainable behaviour change, and
  • reflecting to make sense of these changes in terms of new understandings, initial individual goals, desired organisational results and long-term, personal potential

The coaching process aims to improve the quality of the coachee's working and personal life and thereby contribute to organisational effectiveness.”

For further detail on the characteristics of coaching and how it differs from other activities see the ICF Australasia website.

What benefits can coaching deliver?

Both the ICF and the IECL undertake research into the benefits and effectiveness of coaching. The IEC research indicates that –

“Overall, the biggest message that seems to come through about coaching effectiveness is that it is valuable in assisting people build self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the perception/belief people have about their capacity to achieve in relation to actions and goals. In particular, coaching improved peoples’ perception of their own strengths and challenges, and their ability to, communicate assertively and confidently with their colleagues and staff.“

Reach Case Study 1

Coaching Counterpart A, an experienced front line production manager was moving to an executive position ‘in the office’. This transition was presenting him with many challenges, including coming to grips with the difference in culture and interpersonal styles between the two areas and the need to step well beyond his existing comfort zone of managing a process which he was very familiar with, into a role which involved new responsibilities and tasks and which demanded strategic rather than operational thinking and a new leadership mindset. Coaching support was provided over a period of 6 months, helping Counterpart A develop a greater awareness of his own thinking styles and behaviours and how these were impacting the transition for both himself and others around him. As a result, he was able to develop new strategies and behaviours, which directly impacted his success in the new role.

Reach Case Study 2

Coaching Counterpart B, an executive with a strong track record in several organisations, had taken up a key executive leadership role in a business which was significantly underperforming. The employees, although dedicated, had little experience of practices and approaches outside of that business and reacted defensively when challenged to adopt new approaches by Counterpart B. Both she and the employees were becoming frustrated with the situation and conflict and stress levels were escalating. Coaching support took the form of working with Counterpart B to raise her awareness of the emotional intelligence (EI) aspects of how she was approaching the employees around the required change programme. An EI diagnostic was utilised to gain an objective measure of her existing EI abilities and as a springboard to focused development of useful EI skills. As a result, Counterpart B developed a significant strength in critical EI abilities and adapted her leadership style to successfully engage the employees in owning and driving the change programme themselves.

Reach Case Study 3

Coaching Counterpart C, a team manager in the customer service arm of a service organisation was regarded as a high potential leader of the future. Enthusiastic and full of ideas for business improvement, Counterpart C was frustrated with his inability to reliably implement his ideas, citing as the key factor, the lack of support and effort forthcoming from others. Coaching support included helping Counterpart C recognise his competitive mindset and behaviours and better understand the negative impact this was having on the willingness of those people crucial to implementing his improvement ideas. As a result, Counterpart C worked at developing a more collaborative, less competitive style, which resulted in greater satisfaction for himself, his peers and his team and a higher success rate with implementation of valuable business improvements.