One of the common misunderstandings of the coaching process is to assume an executive or leadership coach is the same as an athletic coach. An athletic coach teaches the athlete how to perform by providing drills, exercises, and direct instruction to develop the skills the coach determines are essential for success.
An executive or leadership coach, as well as a life coach, does not perform the same role as an athletic coach. The coach does not set the agenda, determine the necessary skills, or develop the game plan. Instead, executive coaches work with the client, also known and the coachee, to help him or her to reach the goals the client has developed.
A quality coach does not advise, tell, instruct, or lead a client. Instead, they use strategic, effective questions to assist the client to dig deeper, to gain understanding, and to explore options for moving forward.
Executives and professionals who use a coach don’t just make changes; they learn about themselves in a way that has a ripple effect in all areas of their life. After all, the more we know about why we make choices and how we work best, the more effective we are on a daily basis.
It is very common for people to make choices based on a range of surface factors. When the deeper reasons for making the decision are left unexplored, there is a higher risk that the decision will not be satisfactory over the long run.
Think of a time when you made a decision based on what you thought you should do or what seemed like the thing you were expected to do. Perhaps you agreed to take on an additional task or responsibility, or maybe you promoted to another level in the company just because it was available.
However, after getting into that new role, the satisfaction in advancing your career was overshadowed by dislike of the job, uncertainty in how it was helping you to reach your goals, or challenges in being in a position that was not a good match for your skills.
Working with a coach using effective questioning helps you to determine if the choice you are making is in alignment with your values, your personal and professional goals, and if it is the right thing for you to do at this point in your life.
Deep understanding of what we want and why we want it is not always a focus in making decisions. The role of the coach is to open up this discussion by asking questions and allowing the client to explore all aspects of the decision before making the choice that is best for themselves at this point in their life.