Professional coaching is one of the more modern careers that has had a staggering growth of 13,200% since 2009. Even though the profession is more than 40 years old, not much is known about it. There are many reasons for this. First, the word “coach” is primarily associated with the sports realm, where there are soccer coaches, rugby coaches, and tennis coaches. These are often retired sports people who were previously active in the sports arena, and are now offering their skills, knowledge, and experience to a younger person. In the world of coaching, we refer to a sports coach as a mentor. Second, various coaching niches exist, such as business coaching, health coaching, and relationship coaching. Here, step-by-step programmes are offered by an expert in the field, and this leans more towards mentoring. The third confusion is that coaching is often associated with counselling or consulting. This is a misconception, because counselling and consulting are two different methodologies that serve different purposes. Counsellors work with clients to resolve personal or psychological behaviours which stem from their past. Consultants provide solutions and advice to clients. Coaching does neither of these two things.
What is professional leadership coaching?
So far, I’ve explained what professional leadership coaching isn’t. This poses the question, “What is it?” We need to look at the three words independently to make sense of them collectively.
- Professional – Coaches must undergo training to become a coach. The quality and length of the training can vary significantly, and this is where the term professional coach becomes relevant. Professional coaches will have undergone extensive training by an accredited or approved training school, and they will be members of one or more of the international coaching bodies. Professional coaches will have done rigorous coaching hours, training, mentoring, supervision, ethics exams, and a demonstration of their skills. They will be well-skilled to manage the coaching process.
- Leadership – This is the specific client-focused niche the coach has chosen to work in. The coach may have chosen that niche because he or she has previous experience in leadership, is an expert, or has an interest in it. Either way, the coach believes that they can add the most value to their clients in this niche.
- Coaching – This is about the programme and progress of coaching. Coaching clients can choose an ad hoc coaching session, which isn’t recommended as it’s very unlikely that change can be attained in one session. It’s usually best to enrol for six to 12 coaching sessions, ranging between 45 and 60 minutes over a three- to six-month period. The consistent sessions support growth, accountability, and mindset shifts, which are the main benefits of coaching.
Before you engage in any form of coaching, I want to leave you with two thoughts. First, do your research about the coach, their past clients, and their successes. Second, ask for a short discovery session of 15 to 20 minutes. Most coaches will be more than willing to meet with you to establish an ideal fit for them, and for you to ask them any questions you may have.
Key take-aways of what professional leadership coaching is
- Coaching increases career growth, opportunities, efficiency, and performance.
- Coaching is not the same as mentoring, counselling, and consulting.
- Understand your coach’s qualifications and niche.
- Choose your coach carefully.