What is Coaching - and Why Should it Matter to You?

Recently I was invited to a Christmas party (which seems odd in itself, is it really that time of year already?) and I was asked several times what I do, which is of course one of the most stock standard questions we ask when meeting someone for the first time.


Although this question is ridiculously common,  it can sometimes be a challenge for me to articulately deliver a wonderfully concise answer.

Explaining what executive coaching is exactly, how it works, and why it is so important, in a mere sentence or two, is not as simple as responding with something like –  ”I’m a dentist”.

So, I’ve decided to put together a quick explanation of what coaching is, and why it is so important, to help me find an award winning positioning statement, as much as to help those of you who have a few questions on the subject.

Firstly, what is coaching?

[caption id="attachment_169" align="alignnone" width="582"]

“The Thinker” sculpture by Auguste Rodin
“The Thinker” sculpture by Auguste Rodin.Essentially, coaching is a structured, process driven relationship between a trained professional coach and an individual or team.[/caption]

Essentially, coaching is a structured, process driven relationship between a trained professional coach and an individual or team.

It focuses on unlocking a person’s potential – whether that be to extend and explore a person’s frame of reference, to help them find new tools for success in all that they do or to maximise their performance.

The goal of coaching is self directed reflection and action.  A good coach is a facilitator of change, but coaches are not primarily ‘advice givers’ or there to make people dependent on them.  Rather a coach’s role is to teach people to help themselves.

And, why is it so important?


Coaching helps to raise self awareness, self belief, and self responsibility – all leadership traits which are integral to the success of an individual, team, or organisation.

The coach acts as a sounding board, catalyst and facilitator who provides objective, professional support and guidance.  The principal instruments of coaching are silence, questions and challenge*.

As world renowned coach Angus McLeod so eloquently puts it, “the true coach observes miracles as incredible as the transformation that leads the tiny stirrings of the chrysalis into the bright magnificence of a butterfly.”

With one on one attention, coaching helps the executive develop skills and valuable insights such as:

  • Improved leadership
  • A higher degree of resilience in oneself and in others
  • Increased self awareness
  • Work/life balance
  • Improved decision making and motivation

Finally, who can benefit from executive coaching?

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Unlock your potential with executive coaching - The Leader's Digest
Unlock your potential with the guidance of an executive coach.[/caption]

Many people can benefit – and many people do benefit.

I believe executive coaching is for anyone within an organisation who wants to reach their full potential, and for organisations who wish to facilitate that change - but people must be willing to embrace that change in the first place.

Coaching can be hugely beneficial  for transitioning into a new role, or for executives who are performing in some areas but have developmental gaps they wish to close.

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Coaching can provide clarity If you are at a crossroads.[/caption]

It can also help ‘key talent’ and emerging leaders to prepare for larger or more complex roles.

What has been your or your organisation’s experience with executive coaching?

What benefits have you witnessed or personally experienced as a result?

Do you currently engage a coach, and why?

I hope this (albeit brief) explanation has helped those of you to determine the nuts and bolts of what executive coaching is and why it is so instrumental in building successful organisations in today’s ever changing environment.

I do what I do because I love it, and the rewards I see daily from the executives I am fortunate to work with, are infinite…I’m still working on that jaw dropping statement though.

- Suzi *Ref:  Performance Coaching: The Handbook for Managers, HR Professionals and Coaches - by Angus McLeod.

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