What is Coaching?

Posted on February 4, 2017 by Heather

“Coaching” is a term that we’re hearing more and more these days. It’s kind of become a buzzword for business leaders. Managers should “coach and mentor” their people, and everyone seems to be offering coaching services (including me!).

I’ve realised, during my conversations with people, that there’s a fair amount of confusion surrounding the practice (and art) of Coaching, so I’ll aim to clear up those misunderstandings and clarify what Coaching is, and is not.


It’s probably easier to start with what Coaching is NOT.

Coaching is not about telling people what to do.

With the 20 odd years of experience I have, it would be very easy for me to give people the answers to their workplace problems. Lets face it, in over 2 decades I’ve experienced a vast array of “people issues” and have a bunch of readymade solutions at hand.

Of course, although this might be the fastest approach, it will also be the least effective.

Coaching is not just about “conscious” change.


Learning can only result in transformative behavioural change if it affects the subconsious, rather than merely the conscious. Conscious learning is the stuff of rote learning, of being told what to do and when to do it. Real effective results come with a shift in the subconsious, which is how Coaching makes a difference.

So how does Coaching work, and how does the Coach affect this change at a subconscious level?


A good Coach will have been trained in the art of powerful questioning, and will know what to ask the Coachee, and when, in order to challenge assumptions and create “lightbulb moments” of understanding. During a Coaching session, which will typically last for an hour to 90 minutes, the Coach will encourage the Coachee to identify a goal, and spend the session, and subsequent sessions, working towards this goal, identifying and overcoming obstacles along the way. The Coachee determines the content of the session, i.e what is shared, and the Coach manages the process.

Of course, identifying goals and solutions is not as straightforward as it sounds, particularly when it comes to today’s complex and convoluted situations. A skilled coach will use a variety of creative tools as well as evolved langage skills, combined with years of experience, to guide the conversation, and challenge the Coachee’s assumptions, to create paradigm shifts and that elusive subconscious behavioural change.

Coaching should be energizing, enjoyable and uplifting for both Coach and Coachee, even when a problem or issue seems particularly thorny or overwhelming.


A good Coach can bring enormous benefit to both individuals and their workplace, but it all starts with chemistry. The Coach will always insist on an upfront “chemistry session” with the potential company and individual, to ascertain whether rapport can be built and whether trust can be achieved. Without this, Coaching cannot happen.

Effective Coaching typically runs over 6 sessions, but can be more, or less, depending on the complexity of the senario and the comfort and requirement of the individual.


If this sounds interesting, and you’d like to know more, contact me HERE for a no obligation chat, over a chai.

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