What is Coaching?

2 min read
Feb 7, 2024

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them learn rather than teaching them.” – Timothy Gallwey

Coaching is a useful way of developing skills and abilities, along with enhancing the performance of those they are working with. Many people who become coaches (and make great ones!) have a deep passion for helping others. They’re often the one their friends and colleagues go to for guidance and advice, and they love being able to help in a way that makes a difference in people’s lives.

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But what does it really mean to be a coach?

There’s a lot of confusion about what a coach is, as it can be easily confused with many other job titles. The good news is the confusion is normal! But before we clear that up, let’s look at what coaching is not, to better understand what exactly coaching is. 

What Coaching ISN'T

  • Coaching isn't mentoring
    Mentors provide advice from their background and expertise to guide you toward your goals, while a coach provides the steps needed to get you where you want to be. Mentors tend to develop a more personal relationship with their clients, whereas a coach tends to have a more professional/business-like approach. 
  • Coaching isn't therapy
    Therapy is past-oriented, while coaching is future-oriented. Coaching goals are based on action and solutions, while therapy goals aren’t always action-oriented. For example, a therapist exploring their clients' past experience to find the root cause of an issue may not specifically require an action takeaway. 
  • Coaching isn't simply giving advice
    The goal of a coach should not be to just offer advice; rather to lead their clients to discover what best works for them. If you have a beginner client looking to lose weight, a well-rounded coach provides the necessary guidance needed for their client to succeed as opposed to only providing them with tips or advice. Advice will only get you so far. 

What Coaching Is

Coaching focuses on the specific tasks and skills needed to reach individual and team goals. Coaches work on personal development, and goal achievement and seek to bring more power, control, and joy to the individuals they are working with. The goal of a coach should not be to primarily offer advice; rather to create structure in their coaching conversations to lead their clients on a journey to discover what works best for them. 

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