Frequently Asked Questions

What is coaching?*

Coaching is a professional partnership between a qualified coach and an individual or team that supports the achievement of extraordinary results, based on goals set by the individual or team. Through the process of coaching, individuals focus on the skills and actions needed to successfully produce their personally relevant results. The individual or team chooses the focus of conversation, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions as well as concepts and principles which can assist in generating possibilities and identifying actions. Through the coaching process the clarity that is needed to support the most effective actions is achieved. Coaching accelerates the individual’s or team’s progress by providing greater focus and awareness of possibilities leading to more effective choices. Coaching concentrates on where individuals are now and what they are willing to do to get where they want to be in the future. ICF member coaches recognize that results are a matter of the individual’s or team’s intentions, choices and actions, supported by the coach’s efforts and application of coaching skills, approaches and methods.

What are the benefits of coaching?**

Life coaching helps clients achieve results and sustain life-changing behavior in their lives and/or careers. Life coaching addresses the whole person – with an emphasis on producing action and uncovering learning that can lead to more fulfillment, more balance, and a more effective process for living. Imagine a relationship where the total focus is on you, on what you want in your life, and on what will help you achieve it. The coaching relationship is like that. It’s unique. There is no other relationship in our lives that consistently offers this extraordinary level of support and encouragement. This relationship is like having your own personal navigator for the journey of your life: someone who will help you find your way and stay on course.

How can I determine if coaching is right for me?**

To determine if you could benefit from coaching, start by summarizing what you would expect to accomplish in coaching. When someone has a fairly clear idea of the desired outcome, a coaching partnership can be a useful tool for developing a strategy for how to achieve that outcome with greater ease. Since coaching is a partnership, also ask yourself if you find it valuable to collaborate, to have another viewpoint and to be asked to consider new perspectives. Also, ask yourself if you are ready to devote the time and the energy to making real changes in your work or life. If the answer to these questions is yes, then coaching may be a beneficial way for you to grow and develop.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?*

There are many reasons that an individual or team might choose to work with a coach, including but not limited to the following:

    • There is something at stake (a challenge, stretch goal or opportunity), and it is urgent, compelling or exciting or all of the above.
    • There is a gap in knowledge, skills, confidence, or resources A big stretch is being asked or required, and it is time sensitive
    • There is a desire to accelerate results
    • There is a need for a course correction in work or life due to a setback
    • An individual has a style of relating that is ineffective or is not supporting the achievement of one’s personally relevant goals
    • There is a lack of clarity, and there are choices to be made
    • The individual is extremely successful, and success has started to become problematic Work and life are out of balance, and this is creating unwanted consequences One has not identified his or her core strengths and how best to leverage them The individual desires work and life to be simpler, less complicated There is a need and a desire to better organized and more self-managing.

How long does a coach work with an individual?*

The length of a coaching partnership varies depending on the individual’s or team’s needs and preferences. For certain types of focused coaching, 3 to 6 months of working with a coach may work. For other types of coaching, people may find it beneficial to work with a coach for a longer period. Factors that may impact the length of time include: the types of goals, the ways individuals or teams like to work, the frequency of coaching meetings, and financial resources available to support coaching.

How do I ensure a compatible partnership?*

Overall, be prepared to design the coaching partnership with the coach. For example, think of a strong partnership that you currently have in your work or life. Look at how you built that relationship and what is important to you about partnership. You will want to build those same things into a coaching relationship. Here are a few other tips: Have a personal interview with one or more coaches to determine “what feels right” in terms of the chemistry. Coaches are accustomed to being interviewed, and there is generally no charge for an introductory conversation of this type Look for stylistic similarities and differences between the coach and you and how these might support your growth as an individual or the growth of your team Discuss your goals for coaching within the context of the coach’s specialty or the coach’s preferred way of working with a individual or team Talk with the coach about what to do if you ever feel things are not going well; make some agreements up front on how to handle questions or problems Remember that coaching is a partnership, so be assertive about talking with the coach about anything that is of concern at any time.

Within the partnership, what does the coach do? The individual?*

The role of the coach is to provide objective assessment and observations that foster the individual’s or team members’ enhanced self-awareness and awareness of others, practice astute listening in order to garner a full understanding of the individual’s or team’s circumstances, be a sounding board in support of possibility thinking and thoughtful planning and decision making, champion opportunities and potential, encourage stretch and challenge commensurate with personal strengths and aspirations, foster the shifts in thinking that reveal fresh perspectives, challenge blind spots in order to illuminate new possibilities, and support the creation of alternative scenarios. Finally, the coach maintains professional boundaries in the coaching relationship, including confidentiality, and adheres to the coaching profession’s code of ethics. The role of the individual or team is to create the coaching agenda based on personally meaningful coaching goals, utilize assessment and observations to enhance self-awareness and awareness of others, envision personal and/or organizational success, assume full responsibility for personal decisions and actions, utilize the coaching process to promote possibility thinking and fresh perspectives, take courageous action in alignment with personal goals and aspirations, engage big picture thinking and problem solving skills, and utilize the tools, concepts, models and principles provided by the coach to engage effective forward actions.

What does coaching ask of an individual?*

To be successful, coaching asks certain things of the individual, all of which begin with intention…. Focus—on one’s self, the tough questions, the hard truths–and one’s success Observation—the behaviors and communications of others Listening—to one’s intuition, assumptions, judgments, and to the way one sounds when one speaks Self discipline—to challenge existing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and to develop new ones which serve one’s goals in a superior way Style—leveraging personal strengths and overcoming limitations in order to develop a winning style Decisive actions—however uncomfortable, and in spite of personal insecurities, in order to reach for the extraordinary Compassion—for one’s self as he or she experiments with new behaviors, experiences setbacks—and for others as they do the same Humor—committing to not take one’s self so seriously, using humor to lighten and brighten any situation Personal control—maintaining composure in the face of disappointment and unmet expectations, avoiding emotional reactivity Courage—to reach for more than before, to shift out of being fear based in to being in abundance as a core strategy for success, to engage in continual self examination, to overcome internal and external obstacles.


*From “Frequently Asked Questions About Coaching” by the International Coach Federation

**From “Co-Active Coaching” by Laura Whitworth, Henry Kimsey-House and Phil Sandahl