Before requesting the services of a Professional Coach or subscribing to a Coaching School, it is necessary to answer the following question: what is Coaching?
It may look weird, but after many, many years of training and hundreds of Coaching sessions, I often find myself explaining, in the most concrete way, what Coaching is.
Wondering what Coaching is may look a banal and irrelevant question, but on closer view of the offer of the numerous Italian trainers (and of Coaching Schools), one can only become curious (or suspicious, in some cases) in front of such different definitions and, frequently, even in front of deceptive training offers.
The Italian market of Coaching is constantly growing: typing the word Coaching on Google is sufficient to find several websites offering Coaching services (… of poor quality, frequently); the web teems with an unlimited number of approaches, odd philosophies and false “gurus” that often border on the ridiculous. The ongoing crisis does not help either, encouraging instead this state of facts. Many professionals (mainly Trainers, Consultants and Managers looking for new business opportunities) try to take advantage from the world of Coaching by submitting aggressive commercial offers, based on “give aways” and last-time “deals”.
Contents are objectively poor, frequently confused with other disciplines (mostly NLP, Counseling and personal development); there are contents handled badly, unclear, chaotic, and in my humble opinion they do not offer a good representation of what Italian Coaching is (putting the entire field at disadvantage).
Indeed, wondering What Coaching is represents a very smart question because it allows people to think about the real meaning of Coaching, avoiding reckless unwise purchases (and, sometimes, real scams); wondering once more What Coaching is can only increase the chance to know serious Companies and prepared Professionals.
Following this reasoning, it is possible to discuss:
After fifteen years of experience in the world of training, I can easily affirm that both questions lead to the same definition: distinguishing the two areas is not necessary at all.
Giving a definition of what Coaching is, today, has become enough simple. Law no.4 – January 14, 2013, in fact, has allowed the establishment of trade associations that can be intended as the “Professional Registers” for more popular Professional categories (psychologists, lawyers, commercialists, etc.) whilst keeping a private setting.
It is Trade Associations (representing even hundreds of Professional Coaches) that actually define the true essence of Coaching. These organizations (democratic, independent and founded on no-profit), through a series of tools of control and internal guidelines, “impose” the distribution of high-quality Coaching to Coaches and Schools that wish to be accredited.
It should be remembered that this law was created with the purpose to benefit the citizen or the user in the research for high-quality services.
Back to the question “What is Coaching?”, I can affirm that Coaching is first of all a method (it is a “method” because of its unrepeatable structure), not a technique: its final objectives are the improvement of performances and the achievement of challenging goals. Coaching is a processual relationship, a relational partnership based on the discovery and development of personal potentialities.
To answer even more completely to the question What is Coaching?, I add that it is a process essentially focusing on:
In Coaching, training and enhancement of potentialities (those called “Character Strengths” by doctor Martin E.P. Seligman) allow to identify the real essence of Coaching: “… accompanying people to the maximum output through an independent process of learning”. (Sir John Whitmore)
Therefore, the ultimate goal of the Coaching relationship is not suggesting tips or issuing miraculous recipes, but letting Customers elaborate and realize, through their resources and their personal potentialities, all the programs and goals they wish to achieve. Without any doubt, this is what differentiates Coaching from other disciplines and a good Coach from a less skilled one.
Goals definition and projects establishment allow both the Coach and the Customer to delineate a new path (which is often alternative), where the achievement of self-development and self-determination are supported by the efficiency of the relationship (therefore, mostly, even by the Coach’s knowledges and experiences).
Coaching metaphorically proposes the vision of “human beings similar to acorns; they contain all the potentialities to transform into an oak”.
Every Coaching relationship, therefore, is based on the research of a “new way of being” and a “new way of acting”, and – in accordance with the true essence of Coaching – on the acquisition of a higher level of awareness and responsibility.
Whether providing Coaching sessions or training Professional Coaches, Coaching with capital “C” means enabling people to take a series of responsible choices and to elaborate an action plan to achieve the desired goals.
With my Coaching students and with all my Customers, I always deal with the subject What is Coaching… it is a good starting point but also a great point of arrival.