International Coaching Week 7th - 12th February, 2011.International Coaching Week (ICW) is a weeklong celebration of the coachingprofession held each February since 1999. The ICW is a designated time for coachesand clients to educate the general public about the value of working with a professionalcoach and to acknowledge the results and progress made through the coachingprocess. During this week, coaches around the world are offering a variety of activitiesand pro bono services in their local communities to share the value and benefits ofcoaching. This is a unique opportunity to promote a relatively new and lesser knowprofession in Ireland while at the same time having a positive impact on peoples’ livesduring a very difficult period.So what is coaching?One of the most frequent questions asked is what is coaching and how does it differfrom counselling or other professional interventions. Coaching is defined by theInternational Coach Federation as “partnering with clients in a thought provoking andcreative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professionalpotential.” Coaches recognise that clients are the experts in their own lives and theyprovide a safe environment to support, stimulate and challenge clients to find theirunique solutions that are right for them. It deals with the present, the here and now. It isforward moving and goal oriented and makes the key assumption that the client is morethan capable of finding and using the resources he/she needs to achieve a satisfactoryoutcome.How does coaching differ from other helping professions? Consultants very often giveleads, advice and their expertise. Trainers help clients to develop new skills andevaluate the results. Counsellors help clients deal with a personal crisis by going backinto their past. Psychotherapists help clients heal wounds from the past and reach alevel of acceptance. Coaching is very different, it is forward moving and very focused onhelping the client find the solution for themselves. Sometimes coaches have to make a
decision on the appropriateness of their role, given the circumstances surrounding theclient’s issue.What are the benefits of hiring a coach?Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience freshperspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decisionmaking skills, improve interpersonal effectiveness and increase confidence in carryingout chosen work and life roles. Consistent with a commitment to enhance their personaleffectiveness, they can also expect to see appreciable results in the areas of personaleffectiveness, personal satisfaction with life and work, and the achievement ofpersonally relevant goals.Many businesses have increasingly turned to coaching to help meet the variety ofchallenges that face today’s managers and executives. Coaches assist individualswithin an organisation as well as entire organisations, to achieve increasedperformance, improve retention and morale and develop greater employee commitmentthrough helping individual employees to find greater satisfaction in their roles.There are many different areas of coaching such as life, business, career, education,social, unemployed, wellbeing, retirement etc. Some coaches are generalists whileothers specialise in particular areas.So how do you choose a coach?The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is to find someone with whomyou can easily build a rapport. It is important that the chemistry is right between thecoach and the client and many coaches arrange a pre meeting with the client todetermine if there is a good match between them before indicating that they will take onthe assignment. In some instances, the coach may decide that a particular person is notright for them and refer them on to another coach. The client should ask a prospectivecoach about their experience, training, credentials, speciality, the method they use andexamples of coaching success stories.
Like all professions, it is critically important to ensure there are very high standardswithin the coaching profession. The International Coach Federation which was foundedin 1995 is the leading global organisation dedicated to advancing the coachingprofession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building aworldwide network of coaches. The ICF is the voice of the coaching profession in over90 countries around the world. In Ireland , there are four main associations –theInternational Coach Federation ( ICF ), the Association for Coaching ( AC ), theEuropean Mentoring and Coaching Council ( EMCC ) and the Life & BusinessCoaching Association of Ireland ( LBCAI ).Each of the four organisations has its own membership structure, with requirementsregarding hours and content of training, level of coaching experience and furtherdevelopment. They each have a code of ethics and a complaints procedure.The first challenge for the coach is to ensure that he or she is in the optimum state inorder to do their best for the client. Secondly, the client identifies the topic he/she wantsto cover and the outcomes he/she requires from the coaching session. The coachspends a considerable amount of time with the client on defining the coaching contractand very often the more time spent on contracting, the more insights emerge about thespecific issue being discussed. The coaching contract becomes far more complex whenthere are multiple parties involved such as organisations and companies.Confidentiality must be maintained between the coach and the client ; what is discussedmay not be divulged unless with the permission of the client or by them.The coach then assists the client to develop greater awareness and insights into theissue through questioning and direct communication. There are no judgements, so theclient has the unrestricted freedom to express his/her views. The coach will endeavourto use a style that is resourceful and helpful in moving the client forward. The coach willclarify with the client early on as to the most appropriate role for the coach that is helpfulto the client. During the session, the coach will check back with the client on the originalcontract so as to ensure whether it is still valid or needs to be revised. The use ofquestioning, reflection and intuition are used to help new insights emerge for the client.There are no quick fixes for arriving at satisfactory outcomes and in some instances it
may take three to four coaching sessions before a breakthrough happens. At that stage,it is critical for the client to take responsibility for the implementation of his/her actions inresolving the specific issue.So why do people seek the services of a coach?Results from a survey conducted by the ICF and Pricewaterhouse Coopers in 2009indicate the following reasons; self-esteem / confidence, career opportunities, businessmanagement, relationships, work performance, interpersonal skills, communicationskills, wellbeing, team effectiveness, personal organisation, time management etc. Theareas with which most people identified were self-esteem / confidence, worklife balance,career opportunities, business management, relationships and work performance. Indeciding on the key attributes that are important in selecting a coach, the coach’sconfidence, personal rapport and personal compatibility were the key requirements. Theeffectiveness of the coaching process was also identified as extremely important.What are people looking for today?They are seeking meaning and purpose at work. They want to look after their familiesand to have hope for the future. They are trying to deal with falling standards of valuesand ethics in business and politics. They have no trust in leadership .They are in a stateof fear. Dr Susan Jeffers wrote the book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway` in 1987. Sheoutlined in the book how you can turn your fear and indecision into confidence andaction. Her simple but profound techniques are as relevant today in working throughyour fears which will always be with you but can be overcome if you choose to do so!John Condon is a Business & Career Coach & Mentor and is Managing Director of JohnCondon & Associates Ltd which specialises in Leadership Development, HumanResources, Coaching and Communications. Johnfcondon@eircom.net. 087 2842125/052 6181500.