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What is Coaching?

Updated: Jan 16, 2022


From A to B, quicker

Oh I thought you were like yer man Joe Wicks jumping up and down with the head band ……´. Due to its mixed heritage, coaching can be difficult to explain to people. The word ´Coach´ is thought to have originated from the Hungarian town Koc (pronounced ´kotch´) where one of the first horse drawn carriages was used in the 15th century to take people from A to B, quicker. Later, in the 19th century, the word ´coach´ came into use in England, and it was used to refer to academic mentors before later being used in a sporting context, where it has remained since.

Coaching: From Sport to Business

In the 1970´s Tennis coach Tim Gallwey facilitated the adoption of coaching into the business world when he talked about peak performance in his book ´The Inner Game of Tennis´ (a great book for any coach or teacher or psychologist). The Inner game describes the internal battle we experience when trying to overcome self-doubt and anxiety and strategies to win this battle. Obviously, this battle doesn’t solely exist in Sport. As a result Gallwey soon found himself in demand by many business executives in the United States who were seeking ways to improve their performance at work. Performance coaching has seen massive growth over the past twenty years, famous coachees include Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt.

What is Coaching

The Taps model from the Neuroleadership Institute (NLI) helps us to contextualize coaching nicely, especially in relation to other disciplines that may be confused for coaching. The coach's role is to facilitate or enable, it is to help people to think better so they can do their work to the highest possible standard, achieve clarity about a solution or a future course of action. Coaching is about focusing on the present and moving forward with solutions rather than analyzing the past and regressing to its problems. Coaching focuses on asking rather than telling so that the coachee arrives at his or her own insights.

(The TAPS Model: Image taken from the Neuroleadership Institute)

What Coaching is not

Mentoring is a process for transferring knowledge, insights, and expertise from one person (an expert) to another. The mentor is an adviser or wise counsellor while the coach is more of a facilitator and thinking partner armed with a structured questioning methodology that leads the coachee to their own answers. Much like the mentor, a consultant draws on their expertise and does the job of identifying and solving problems for the client. Coaches, on the other hand, do not need to have expert knowledge about the topic being discussed, in fact the more a coach knows about the topic or situation the less effective they tend to be. Coaches do not give advice.

Over the past few years I have worked with entrepreneurs, business owners and executives, they all cite ´CLARITY´ as one of the main benefits of receiving coaching. This clarity begets confidence which in turn boosts performance. In an ever increasingly distracted world sometimes it can be difficult to think, working with a coach addresses this problem and accelerates the process of achieving goals. Stepping off ´the hamster wheel´ doesn't take a lot of time but it does give a lot of return. So, if you want to facilitate your team or leaders to overcome an obstacle, get clarity, strategise, change something, improve your performance at work or simply go from A to B that bit quicker then work with a coach. Please contact me at to learn more about how you or your team could benefit from coaching.

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