ICF definition of coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
But often people will see it in many different ways. One way I like to describe it is to see coaching in a metaphoric way as supporting butterfly’s transformation. For butterfly to be able to free itself from cocoon, spread its wing and fly, it is vital to use its own potential and exertion. Similarly, how the coach creates a safe and supporting environment for the client to strengthen and maximize their personal potential – DESIGNING MIND to achieve goals and personal success.
Professional coaching is focused on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. But sometimes it’s helpful to understand it by distinguishing it from other personal or organizational support professions.
Therapy: Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present. Coaching, on the other hand, supports personal and professional growth based on self-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. It is is future focused.
Consulting: While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.
Mentoring: A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring usually include advising and counseling whereas the coaching process does not include advising or counseling and focuses instead on individuals reaching their own objectives.
Training: Training programs are based on objectives set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached, with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path that coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum.