Coaching is ‘the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another’ (Myles Downey, 1999). It focuses the mind, gives perspective, stimulates insights, and provides practice opportunities to bring about sustained behaviour change.
Coaching (whether it be called leadership, executive or business coaching) allows the client to focus time and attention on a development area, look at it from different perspectives and generate realistic solutions that can be translated into the workplace. In effect, what a coach does is “give the client a good listening to”, as well as reflecting back the facts, thoughts, feelings and patterns that they notice as the client talks. This helps the client to see problems, issues, blockages and relationships in a whole new light, enabling them to make positive plans for action when they return to work.
Coaching is not the same as mentoring. A mentor is someone who is very experienced in a particular field and uses this experience to help develop others in that field. A talented leadership coach, on the other hand, will use their exceptional listening, reflecting, summarising and questioning skills to create a space for the client (from any industry or background) to think better and resolve issues.
Leadership (or executive or business) coaching is for any director, senior executive, manager, high potential employee or business owner who is committed to improving their performance and growing their business.
One-to-one coaching sessions are usually two hours long and spaced one month apart. A coaching project usually lasts between four and six sessions in total.
Small group coaching programmes adopt a similar schedule and are for a maximum of six people. As well as benefiting from expert and peer coaching on their own development issue, participants also learn how to become more effective coaches themselves.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for another human being is to listen without interruption.