May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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What Is Coaching and Who Might Benefit from It?

Based on the quizzical look I often get when I tell people about my work, I have concluded that coaching is a poorly understood craft. Some associate it with therapy. Others confuse it with consulting. Still others look at me wondering where my whistle is. While coaching may share some similarities to all of the above, the kind of coaching that I do in supporting executives and educators is quite different from the aforementioned.

Coaching is a training or development process in which an individual is supported while trying to achieve a specific personal or professional goal. Coaching differs from consulting in that it does not tell people what to do, but rather uses powerful questioning techniques and assessment tools to help clients dig deep within themselves to arrive at their own solutions. In so doing, the coach helps the client own the situation and take steps to improve it.

The underlying premise behind coaching is that all of us are resourceful and possess the inner awareness and capacity to improve our situations. The job of a coach is to ask, to prod, and to offer rhetorical suggestions in a manner that allows clients to clarify their goals and identify the steps that will help them get there. Then the coach needs to hold his client accountable to those goals to ensure forward movement and genuine progress.

There are many types of coaches. The most common is a life coach, who helps individuals succeed in the daily game of life. There are also niche coaches, such as career and business coaches, executive coaches, and performance coaches. Coaches can help with many things, including relationships, work/life balance, communication, goal setting, change management, and much more.

How might a coaching conversation sound? Let’s look at the following example:

Daniel: I have a time-management problem.

Coach: What makes you think that you have that problem?

Daniel: I just don’t get everything done on my to-do list. The more I achieve, the more I wind up adding to the list.

Coach: How would you know that you’ve solved your time-management problem? What would success look like?

Daniel: Well, I’d get everything done on my list and do so with time to spare.

Coach: How do you like to go about solving this problem? Can you think of a problem that you’ve solved in the past that is similar to this one?

And so the conversation continues. Perhaps at some point the coach would present Daniel with an “urgent/important” matrix or another tool to give him a means through which to determine what to do in which order (or what to delegate or even completely remove from the agenda).

Another example brings home the challenge of leaders in today’s demanding and ever-changing workplace.

Barry: Our business is stuck in neutral and we really need to make some changes around here.

Coach: What kind of changes are you referring to?

Barry: We have to restructure our reporting system and become less bureaucratic. Some of our younger people in particular are feeling stifled and our product line is stagnant.

Coach: Is there something that’s stopping you from addressing these concerns?

Barry: I have some entrenched employees who have been with me for years. Very loyal. Generally hard working. But they don’t seem open to change how we’ve done things and explore new possibilities.

Coach: How can you envision getting them to see another point of view and become more open to your goals?

Barry: Well… If it were me, I wouldn’t want anyone driving change down my throat. I would want to have a voice and be part of the process. I also would likely not want to change any more than I had to, because change can be upsetting, if not downright painful.

Perhaps at this point the coach would seize upon Barry’s awareness of the challenges of change to explore healthy change-related techniques. Possibilities include equity building and presenting the challenges facing the company and asking for input.

In this column I will endeavor to present usable coaching concepts and techniques that can help each of us better achieve our own optimization and fulfillment. I look forward to growing with you in our goal of leading more inspired and fulfilling lives.

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and President of Impactful Coaching and Consulting. He can be reached at 212-470-6139 or at [email protected].

By Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

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