Coaching Is Different

Coaching is different. Coaching isn’t necessarily better than other things likes counseling, advising, mentoring, or even teaching– it’s just different. It’s a great tool for leaders to have in their repertoire, particularly if they believe part of good leadership is developing and empowering the team they lead.

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Keith Webb says coaching is, “a series of intentional conversations that empower a person or group to fully live out their calling.” Coaching works for the health of each client or team to generate and investigate their drives, desires and dreams so that they will be able to move into the future they hope for.

Coaching is a catalyst for growth! My goal as a coach is to help clients in real time by creating space for intentionality in thinking, reflecting and processing; I empower and provoke leaders to go beyond what they think is possible to achieve their goals for their lives and work.

But how is it different from things like counseling or mentoring?

Coaching is not counseling. Counselors may use some of the same communication techniques as coaches like active listening, use of questions, limited advice giving, etc. However, counselors reach into the past in order to bring healing and relief for their clients– coaching is future and action-oriented.

Coaching is also not advising. Advisors or consultants determine needs and provide solutions. They spend time investigating all the nooks and crannies of a situation to determine the best way to accomplish what they’ve been tasked with. Advisors are all about providing a client with solutions– coaching is about helping a client generate their own action steps and solutions.

Coaching is not teaching or training. A teacher or trainer sets the agenda and change comes from outside, from the top-down– coaching helps the client set their own agenda and uses adult learning principles of self-discovery to empower change from within the client.

Coaching is not mentoring. Mentors provide knowledge from their own storehouse of information and experience. Mentors are incredibly beneficial and people, leaders in particular, benefit from a mentoring relationship. Mentoring and coaching are commonly confused but mentoring is not coaching. Mentors pour in– coaches draw out.

Coaching is different from all of these. While each of these other roles has their own special merit and specific purpose, coaching stands apart in both method and intention. Coaches are not one more voice talking to the client– they are more akin to a taxi driver carrying the client along to their chosen destination. They come alongside the client to draw out what is being poured in and ask questions to provide clarity to the client’s thoughts and plans.

Coaching is simple– practically anyone can learn to listen well and ask powerful questions. But coaching is not easy; great coaching requires training, practice, and skill.


Question: Have you experienced the difference between great coaching and the other roles mentioned? What stood out to you the most? Let me know in the comments below.