Everybody’s Getting One…Why?

Are you doing everything you can to make yourself successful? Many executives and managers are enlisting the support of a business or personal coach to try to ensure they are doing all they can to maximize the likelihood of being successful. Coaching has gained increasing exposure in the press lately (Fortune magazine devoted 10 pages to the subject, Cheryl Richardson’s book on coaching has been on the New York Times best seller list, and NBC, CNN, and NPR have had recent features on the topic). The practice is widely accepted in most parts of the US, especially the east and west coast areas. Is coaching just another "fad" or "flavor of the month" management tool? I’ll give my answer to that question in a bit, but first, since February 5 through February 11 is "International Personal and Business Coaching Week", let’s look at what coaching is all about.

*What is coaching?*

According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching is a recently developed profession where a  facilitative one-to-one, mutually defined relationship exists between a qualified coach and an individual within  an organization. Outcomes of this relationship are observable, measurable and are congruent with organizational performance requirements. In other words…

-Helps people set and attain goals
-Holds individuals accountable for making progress on their goals
-Ask individuals to do more than they would have done alone
-Enhances focus on desired results
-Provides tools and support

*Is coaching like therapy?*

It is in that a coach and client have a one-to-one helpful (facilitative) relationship, BUT it is different in that  coaching doesn’t deal with working on past "issues" or mental health problems. Coaching does not rely on  resolution of past issues to move the client forward. Sometimes past problems come up in a coaching  relationship and at that point an experienced coach will refer the client to an appropriate mental health resource.  Coaching focuses on proactively achieving desired personal and professional goals.

*What is the relationship between a coach and a client?*

-A collaborative partnership (the coach is not an " expert", "authority", or "healer")
-The focus, format and goals of the coaching relationship are mutually defined
-The client and coach both hold accountability to the coaching relationship

*How is coaching delivered?*

A number of options exist for the delivery of coaching services. The means of contact is determined by a  mutual arrangement that meets the needs of the client. Frequently a schedule is collaboratively established and  then the coach and client are in contact by phone, in person, via e-mail, or by any combination of these  methods. Often a coach will ask the client to do some sort of assignment between sessions. Many coaches  use a focus form to help the client direct their needs for the session.

*How long do I need a coach?*

The coach and client determine the length of the relationship. Often a coach will ask for a three to six  month commitment in order to give the relationship enough time to be effective. Most coaches will  accommodate immediate termination of the relationship if the coaching is not working in either party’s opinion.  Some coaches have written agreements outlining the terms and conditions of the relationship.

*Does coaching really work?*

Yes, if the coach and client are a good "fit". Synergy between coach and client is imperative and you may  need to explore a bit to find the "right" coach for you. Coaches have different qualifications and training, so it is  important to look at the coach’s experience and expertise. 

Coaching is becoming popular because… it works! Coaches provide tools to help clients achieve their goals  or find more meaning in their lives. Coaching can provide assistance in the development of specific  behaviors in managers, such as listening, working effectively with difficult personalities, conflict  management and assertiveness. Coaches ask tough questions (for example: "What are you tolerating?"  "Where do you give your power away?") and hold the client accountable to answer the questions. The bottom 
line is; clients develop new skills and these translate into success.

*How much does it cost?*

Most coaches working with individuals charge about $250 to $500 per month for one half-hour call per week.  Executive coaches charge more and often work with a client an hour or two per week. Usually the cost is  around $250 to $300 per hour. Costs can vary, however, depending upon how the coaching is delivered.

Now, back to the point as to whether coaching is a "fad"… I believe that coaching is NOT just a "fad", but is  a powerful management (be it self-management or other) technique that provides individuals with the tools they  need to come to their own decisions about goals and efficient, effective means to achieve them. 

Again, I will ask; are you doing everything you can to make yourself successful? Not everyone needs a coach,  but coaching might be just what you need to make a good life a great one. Wouldn’t you like having your own  Al McGuire or Vince Lombardi in your corner?

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