Recently, I was chatting with a friend who is a senior executive, and he mentioned a serious challenge his leadership team was encountering. Suddenly, he said, “There you go! You’re a coach – here’s a problem for you to fix!”

When I pointed out that this is not actually what coaches do – he was visibly surprised. I explained that coaching helps people to identify their goals and establish actions to achieve them. It also improves personal and professional performance and gets people where they want to be in their lives or careers.

Let’s debunk some common coaching myths.

Myth 1: that a coach identifies problems and solves them

Unlike a consultant or a mentor, a coach doesn’t use their expertise or their own experience to define and/or solve your problems. That would be like a track athlete expecting their sports coach to run in a race on their behalf.

A consultant uses their expertise to do something that you can’t – to point out problems and come up with solutions. A mentor uses their own rich experience in a specific area, industry or career to guide, advise and provide answers, because they’ve ‘been there; done that.’

The coaching relationship is one of collaboration and co-creation between you and your coach. A coach knows questions, tools and techniques to tease out, clarify and address any issues in the way of your success. Then, together, you will discover ways forward that work for you.

Using tools and techniques to improve focus on your goals, a coach simply guides you through the process of coming up with your own workable solutions and holds you accountable for taking action – to achieve the best results.

Although the outcomes can be magical, coaches are not magicians. The power lies in you. This means that you run your own race, yourself.

Myth 2: that coaching is just like counselling or therapy

Counselling and therapy improve overall psychological working by resolving issues from your past that are still at work in your present-day functioning (or dysfunction). These interventions also tend to be longer term in nature. Coaching, however, tends to be more specific in focus, is forward-looking, solution-oriented, and typically shorter in duration.

According to the International Coaching Federation, the focus of coaching is on “creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through”.

Coaching helps you to perform better, work better, be better – by taking action to get results.

Myth 3: that a coach is for people who aren’t performing well, or who need more motivation

Everyone can benefit from optimal performance – the most successful leaders have employed coaches to make them more effective. Coaching doesn’t operate from a deficit model – it focuses on solutions, rather than problems.

A coach will help you through a process of questioning and self-exploration, to enable you to identify and focus on your goals; to recognise and address any barriers to achievement; to consider options, make decisions and take action.

The decision to work with a coach comes from a position of self-awareness. The focus of coaching is entirely positive, identifying opportunities for development based on your individual strengths and capabilities.

A good coach presupposes that you have all the resources within you to achieve your goals and improve your performance. A good coachee takes responsibility and takes action, making the necessary changes to further enhance their performance and achieve results.

Moving forward together

As an experienced professional and coach, I help people and teams identify and realize their goals. I work with a range of organizations including – government, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society, and academia.

Trained at Barefoot Coaching, I start from the premise that you – the coachee – are the recognized expert in your life, and we co-develop a program of action for defining and moving towards your desired goals.

Coaching can be truly transformational – with lifelong effects. As I explained to my executive friend, a coach doesn’t come up with answers to your problems – a coach develops great questions for you to answer, in your own process of discovery.

If you are ready to move forward with your life or career, please contact me now.

If you would like to, please download my coaching programme brochure – Women’s Leadership Coaching – For Women in Development – specifically designed for women working in global development.

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