When I started my coaching program to learn how to be a coach, I was pretty sure that I already knew everything. I walked in, cocky as all get out, with my 15+ years of Human Resources experience “coaching” leaders. I could not have been more wrong. Turns out, coaching, true coaching, is completely different than feedback and has nothing to do with mentoring.
It was hard for me, I had been in Human Resources for so long, I thought for sure that I had been doing coaching all along. I’ve helped leaders with handling difficult conversations, I worked with leaders on how to help their teams work better together, I spent years and years helping leaders. But the work that I did was not coaching.
There is a lot of silence in coaching. You have to give people space to think. If you’re doing your job as a coach, you should be asking difficult questions. Questions that aren’t easy for the person that you’re coaching to answer. You aren’t giving them information, you are drawing things out of them. It seems like such a small distinction but it makes such a huge difference.
When you give someone the answers, how long do they stick? When you engage a consultant and the engagement ends, and you stumble across something that you don’t understand, you have to call the consultant back to get the answers. When you engage a coach, you can go back to the tools, exercises, and resources that the coach has equipped you with and once again draw the answers out of yourself.
How is coaching different from giving feedback or mentoring?
Why does coaching work?
- It’s done in a safe space and is non-judgmental
- It helps you build confidence, trust, and dependence on yourself
- It creates an action plan and accountability process
According to research done by the International Coach Federation, people who have engaged a coach say that they would do it again. It can be truly transformational, I know that I was for me. As a part of my coaching training and accreditation process, I had to engage a coach and it changed my perspective greatly. I’m extremely grateful that my coach is now one of my mentors and was able to give me this advice. When a leader engages a coach, you’re not just transforming their life, you’re transforming the lives of their whole team. The team will see a difference in their leader as they develop and grow. When their leaders employ their coaching skills, their team will develop and grow, it is an exponential factor. That is why it is important to truly coach, coaching can change the world.
So, let’s get back to the original question. Why coaching? The best answer that I can give is the only answer. Because it works.