The Coaching Profession
The coaching profession
is rapidly growing and evolving. Today, there is a continually increasing number of “coaches” from a wide
range of professional backgrounds offering an extensive variety of coaching services that embrace a broad spectrum of human
activities. While it can be said that all coaches are concerned with improving human performance, they go by many different
titles and employ an extensive array of approaches and techniques in their work. Terms such as behavioral coaching, life coaching, leadership coaching, business coaching, executive coaching as well as several others, are used to define the services that coaches offer, but such
labels often do not adequately describe the focus and objectives of what they actually do.
Some coaches describe themselves by their expertise—what they know and do, such as a sports coach, sales coach
or communication coach; while others define themselves by whom they serve, e.g., executive coach, CEO Coach. Even among coaching
practitioners there is no universal agreement as to the meaning of such titles, no consistency in the types of services that
each provides or even a consensus on a definition of coaching. Although the technology of coaching is exploding into
organizations and into people’s personal lives, many remain unclear as to what coaching is and what the coaching process
entails. Coaching is sometimes perceived as a facilitation or management style or even viewed as being interchangeable with mentoring, counseling, training or consulting. As a result, potential clients often have a difficult time understanding
the differences between what different coaches do or the approaches and specific benefits offered by each.
At Symbiont Performance
Group we have attempted to define and categorize the many elements that constitute
professional coaching in order to develop a good working understanding for both ourselves and our clients, of the types of
coaching services that are available, the differences and similarities they exhibit and the benefits that each seeks to provide
to clients. By no means do we offer our categorization and organization as a definitive classification
of professional coaching. However, it has been useful to us in structuring and defining what we do, and we present it
here in the belief that it may help others gain a better understanding of the current coaching landscape
Definition of Coaching
We begin with the premise that the results individuals achieve in work
and in life are the direct consequence of their daily goal-directed performance behaviors which represent not only the physical actions a person executes in striving for goal attainment, but also
the thought processes he or
she uses to conceive and implement such actions, i.e., mental models. Since the fundamental purpose of coaching is to help people perform better, we feel that it can best be defined
as a relationship consisting of a structured,
process-driven interaction between a professional trained
in coaching methodologies and one or more individuals seeking positive behavioral change for improved
results. Coaching has application
in work, education, recreation and in one’s personal life. In a general sense, coaching can have a positive impact on virtually any area that
may contribute to helping people live happy, productive and fulfilling lives.
Elements of Performance
Because there can be
a variety of factors that can determine the effectiveness of performance behaviors, the focus of an individual coaching initiative
may be directed toward any of a wide range of different issues. At Symbiont Performance Group,
we employ a simple but comprehensive model around which we design and implement performance improvement approaches, which
can be depicted by the following equation:
M x (KSA + G) x E = B→R
characters in this formula stand for the following: Motivation impacting on Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes plus Goals interacting within a specific Environment
generate prformance Behaviors which drive Results.
Effective coaching initiatives can be valuable in making a positive impact
in any or all of the factors (namely, motivation, KSAs, goals and environment) which shape performance behaviors.
The approaches and methodology in each case would be different but the overall focus, namely positive behavioral change
leading to improved results would be the same. Learn more about the “Success Formula”
Performance Coaching vs. Transformational
For the purpose of better understanding
the field of coaching, it can be organized into two basic categories—performance coaching and transformational coaching. Neither is more or less important, and while most coaching initiatives tend to focus primarily on one or the
other, elements of both are usually involved to some degree in every coaching interaction. Performance coaching has to do
with performing better, behaving more effectively and achieving performance and developmental goals. Transformational coaching on the other hand, deals with the “inner self” and
focuses on issues such as an individual’s beliefs, values, self-esteem, purpose and resilience. Transformational
coaching centers around what a person is being rather than what a person is doing and helps clients identify
and transcend self-limiting assumptions about themselves. Learn more about Transformational Coaching
coaching focuses on helping individual and teams perform their roles and responsibilities in a more effective manner
by developing performance enhancing behaviors. It deals with facilitating learning and development to enhance
peoples' actions, responses, and reactions to generate positive behavioral change resulting in improved personal
effectiveness and satisfaction. Performance coaching activities are aimed at generating positive behavioral change in
any area of human activity be it sports, the arts, interpersonal relations, the military, education, business or in matters
relating to one’s personal life. Virtually any coach-client interaction focused on improving the client’s
performance behaviors can be appropriately categorized as performance coaching. Performance coaching is also used
to minimize or remove performance limiting behaviors that create obstacles that stand in the way of an individual's optimum
performance. Most performance coaching initiatives focus on one or more of four basic objectives:
a deficiency in a person's expected performance level (remedial coaching)
Augmenting a person's effectiveness in a current responsibility
a person's ability to performing at a higher or level of responsibility
Minimizing or eliminating a person's
The field of performance coaching is vast and diverse
and the approaches, methods and styles employed by coaches in the each coaching area as well as in each individual case
would be different, but the overriding objective—positive behavioral change—would be the
same. Performance coaching applications are generally competency-based and
usually concentrate on developing specific, clearly-defined, relevant and mutually
agreed upon knowledge skills and attitudes to change behavior to bring about improved levels of performance.
Most coaching requests from organizations or individuals involve some form of performance coaching.
In performance coaching, the coach usually has a vested interest in achieving a positive coaching
outcome. Whether it be a district sales manager coaching a salesperson on effective closing techniques, a high school
football coach giving pointers on blocking or an executive coach advising a businessman on communication skills, the coach
is usually responsible and accountable for results achieved.
Behavioral Coaching/Behavioral-Based Coaching
Behavioral coaching also known as behavioral-based coaching or evidence-based coaching is a coaching style within the domain of performance coaching that espouses a specific coaching model and incorporates
a structured methodology that relies heavily on the behavioral sciences (i.e., psychology, sociology and anthropology), from which the term “behavioral” is derived. While behavioral coaching models vary,
each usually places strong emphasis on analyzing the driving forces behind current behavior in order to better understand
how the behavior can be positively changed and sustained. Additionally, behavioral coaching techniques
apply proven methods of assessment, data collection and data analysis and employ established valid behavioral change techniques. Behavioral coaching approaches are generally applied in the area of business coaching (see below) and are primarily geared toward the
learning and development of individuals or teams, which in turn assist in the growth of the overall organization. However,
behavioral coaching represents a holistic approach to performance improvement in that it recognizes
that any aspect of a person’s life can be relevant to a coaching agenda, even though the primary focus may be work-related.
An individual’s life goals, meaning and purpose, values, health and support networks are all valid areas of inquiry
in behavioral coaching.
Types of Performance Coaching
The first association that
probably comes to mind when anyone thinks about coaching is sports coaching. Some of the basic principles
of performance coaching derive from sports psychology, such as performing to one’s best, setting and reaching goals
and becoming a team player. While traditional sports coaching tends to focus on a win-lose model, many contemporary sports
coaches advocate an approach that puts the interests of the individual first. Such a philosophy is harmonious
with the basic purpose of performance coaching and represents the epitome of the ideal coaching relationship.
It embodies the basic objectives that underlie all performance coaching—personal development
leading to improved performance resulting in personal satisfaction, usually represented by winning.
Furthermore, many of the principles
that govern the actions of sports coaches and players such as honesty, trust and mutual respect, have relevancy in other performance
coaching arenas. Sports
coaches are responsible for developing athletes by analyzing their performances, instructing in relevant skills
and by providing encouragement. They are also often responsible for the guidance of the athlete in life. Therefore, the role
of the sports coach is broad and varied, encompassing that of assessor, instructor, facilitator, motivator and supporter.
Additionally, successful sports coaches are highly knowledgeable in the technical aspects of their respective
sport and are motivating and empathetic leaders, qualities that are important for any performance coach.
Business coaching seeks
to provide advice, feedback and support to individuals or groups within organizations to help them recognize and overcome
improvement challenges. Essentially it covers any performance improvement intervention within the context
of a business environment. Business coaching can be applied to all types of organizations from large public and private corporations
to medium and small business. Business coaching generally focuses on key individual and organizational
functions necessary to achieve business success such as effective communication, teamwork, sales, customer loyalty, leadership,
strategic planning and many others. A good business coach does not need to have business expertise in the same specific field as the client
in order to be able to provide quality business coaching services. However, he or she must be expert the root causes
of business performance challenges and in the specific discipline being coached (e.g., sales, time organization, motivational
skills, etc.). Business coaching may be organized into the following three basic domains all of which can
have a critical impact on organizational effectiveness:
Personal Skills - e.g., planning and organizational skills
Interpersonal skills - e.g., communication skills
Job Skills - e.g., management skills
Traditionally, most business coaching interventions strategically link the
performance improvement of the individual to the organization’s overall performance objectives with the benefits viewed as accruing primarily to the organization. Therefore, the goals for the individual(s)
being coached are always determined in conjunction with what is in the best interest of the sponsoring organization.
We view business coaching in broader terms and believe that there can be value to the organization even when there
is not necessarily a direct link between coaching and organizational needs. Organization sponsored coaching in such areas
as time planning and organization, effective goal setting, personal motivation and others not only convey strong dividends
in the realm of an employee’s personal life, but through its positive impact on individuals—evidenced by improved
self-confidence, reduced stress, increased commitment to the organization—also improve the overall effectiveness of
the organizations and institutions to which they belong. See “Life Wheel”
Business coaching is not just the domain of outside practitioners; most successful organizations today expect their
senior leaders as well as middle and first level managers to coach their team members toward higher
levels of job performance. In fact, many organizations view the coaching of subordinates as a key responsibility of managers.
A key factor in the success of internal performance coaching initiatives is the degree to which managers are skilled in the
discipline of performance coaching. Coaching ability is not instinctive. It involves a distinct set of
skills along with the implementation of a clearly defined coaching process. Ineffective coaching is not
only a waste of time and effort, it can actually be counterproductive.
Learn more about Symbiont’s Performance Coaching Training
Life Skills/Career Coaching
Life skills coaching is
a category of performance coaching that focuses on an individual’s personal life goals. It may encompass all the
important areas of a person’s life including aspects pertaining to physical, family, social, mental,
financial, ethics and beliefs, and
career. see “Life Wheel.” Life coaching is essentially
about successful life planning and execution. Coaches help clients set and achieve clear,
attainable goals in each of the important areas of their lives, but, many practitioners in this area go beyond performance
coaching to help individuals identify their life vision, mission and values as well as deal with factors relating to personal motivation. While life skills coaching is oriented to personal coaching for benefit
of the client, many also see a focus on personal growth, career development and life issues as having a demonstrable value
on the organizations they work for as well.
Career Coaching incorporates
many of the elements of life skills coaching, but places the primary focus on career development. Career coaches help
client assess their strengths, aptitudes and desires to identify their optimal career paths and then set and achieve appropriate developmental goals and performance
Transformational coaching focuses on getting clients to see themselves
differently rather than helping them perform in an improved manner as in performance coaching. While performance coaching
is oriented toward “doing better,” transformational coaching is oriented towards changing what a person is “being.”
People often get themselves into a mental-emotional condition in which they see the world and their role in it in a certain
way (their context). They develop mental models about how things work and become trapped in those models.
By using deep inquiry techniques and heart-felt compassion, transformational
coaches motivate people to surface the underlying issues in their lives and push themselves beyond their comfort zones into
unknown territory. They encourage clients to take actions that may seem undoable to move to a mental/emotional state
in which they feel empowered and trust that they can create the life they say they want to have. Clients learn tangible
skills to clear away negative beliefs, patterns and emotions so that they can live fully present in the here and now while
breaking away from the restraints that keep us from creating rich, satisfying lives. The process is transformational because
it helps clients transform their perspective to one where the impossible becomes possible.
Unlike with performance coaching, transformational coaches do not assume
responsibility or accountability for the outcome of the coaching intervention. They do not suggest
what clients should do. Rather, they stand beside their clients and to the best of their ability; try to see the world
through their clients’ eyes. Furthermore, they make no judgment about what is right and
true for the client. Instead they ask appropriate, insightful questions to help clients draw out for themselves what
course of action should be. Learn
about Symbiont’s Transformational Coaching program.
What makes a Good Coach?
There is no universal
coaching method. Coaching is a human to human process that needs to be tailored to the style of the client and the context
of the situation. Fundamentally, the role of a coach is to bring out the best in people. In order to be successful
at this, a coach must expect the best from people. A good coach never
prejudges a client negatively regardless of any negative input he or she gathers directly or through the impressions of others.
Any such assessment is subconsciously conveyed in a coaching relationship and is readily perceived by the person being coached,
thereby erecting barriers to the development of a productive coaching environment. An effective coach need not necessarily
like the client but it is critical that he or she demonstrates respect for the person.
coaches connect personally with their clients by focusing totally on the client’s needs and aspirations
and by actively listening to what they
have to say. They never try to impress a client by showing how smart they are. They demonstrate genuine interest
in their clients’ success and happiness and work to develop their trust so that they will feel comfortable discussing
performance issues as well as their dreams, fears and personal values. This serves to minimize or eliminate any resistance
on the part of the client to be receptive to coaching input and facilitates their becoming fully engaged in the coaching process.
of effective coaches is that they demonstrate confidence in themselves and their methods so that they will be perceived as
competent and authentic. They convey the impression through their words and actions that they have earned the right
to coach. They live their values, they don’t equivocate and they assume full accountability for their role in
the coaching interaction. They are open and honest in their coaching discussions and are not afraid to ask the tough
questions when they are called for. Learn about how you can develop your performance coaching skills.
Coaching vs. Mentoring, Counseling
Coaching is often confused with the disciplines of mentoring, counseling, training and consulting. While
coaching does have some elements in common with each, there are also some significant differences.
Coaching vs. Mentoring.
While both coaching and mentoring focus on learning and development for improved performance,
mentors usually go beyond coaching to assist in the development of their protégés in additional ways.
Mentors often act as role models and are usually recognized as experts in their field as well as having broad knowledge of
organizational structure, policies and culture. As such, mentors often function as advocates for their protégés
in facilitating recognition and advancement. Mentors can be coaches and coaches can also serve as mentors, but good mentors
usually transcend coaching for improved performance and focus on comprehensive personal development of an individual above
and beyond simply that of improved performance behaviors.
Coaching initiatives focus on performance improvement in general. They include interventions intended
to enhance an individual’s capabilities to perform current and future responsibilities as well as to overcome existing
performance deficits or counterproductive behaviors. Counseling on the other hand, usually comes in to play when a person’s
underperformance becomes a problem for the organization. Its primary area of involvement is with regard to what is perceived
as sub-standard behavior. Coaching emphasizes new competencies and improved performance behaviors, and while workplace counselors
may at times adopt a coaching role, they primarily look for causes for performance deficit and search for ways to eliminate
Coaching vs. Training.
Training initiatives usually involve structured learning process
with a formalized curriculum. The focus of training centers on creating foundational
knowledge skills and attitudes required for a specific task or set of tasks. Coaching interventions center on enhancing
capabilities associated with current roles as well as preparing people for future responsibilities. Coaching is
than foundational. As with training, there is a focus on positive change in knowledge,
skills and attitudes, but unlike training where the emphasis is usually on well-organized, short-term learning opportunities
with specific, immediate outcomes, coaching centers on more gradual, less-structured, and informal, experience-based learning
over time. Learn more about Training & Development
Coaching vs. Consulting
Both coaches and consultants work to help individuals improve personal and organizational results.
Consultants tend to be experts in a particular field or discipline and after analyzing a particular situation, dispense advice
on how a function can be performed more effectively. Coaches are not necessarily "experts" in business knowledge,
but rather experts in analyzing and developing individual performance behaviors to overcome identified
performance challenges. Consultants’ efforts revolve around issues to be resolved while coaches focus on developing
interpersonal relationship through which to improve individual’s performance behaviors. Consultants advise clients
on how to achieve better results; coaches help clients develop within themselves the ability to achieve such results.
Additionally, coaches provide ongoing behavioral feedback and support which consultants rarely do.
Contact us for a no obligation consultation regarding your personal or organizational coaching needs.
860-283-9963 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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