What a Coach Does and How to Search For the Right One

What Does a Coach Do?

There are many kinds of coaches out there, specializing in a variety of niches. The definition below pertains to a Professional Coach who is certified via a governing body such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). The ICF defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole." 

The easiest way to understand coaching is by comparing it to other professional roles, as illustrated in the diagram below.


Of course, keep in mind that overlap of roles will exist. For example, sometimes counselling involves a solutions focused approach, and sometimes consultants initially coach before giving advice. In this regard, depending on a coach’s area of expertise, they may also wear different “hats,” so to speak. For example, as a coach I have experience in Human Resources and Learning & Development. I want to ensure the client is getting the most value from my services, so I am flexible in my approach. Let's say I have a client who discovers they need to create a team building event that addresses client attraction and engagement. Upon request (and outside of a pure coaching session), I will put on my "consultant hat" and partner with them to develop a customized event or program. Another example: If a client wants to build trust with stakeholders, I might briefly put on my "trainer hat" at the end of the session and share a simple tool or strategy. Ultimately, the client is in the driver's seat at all times—they assess value based on their own needs and priorities. 

Why Seek an ICF Certified Coach?

Personally, as a strong proponent of applied Positive Psychology, I believe that you will have the most success in all aspects of your career and life if you seek a coach who follows the ICF definition. Sometimes, there are "quick- fixes" or programs designed to solve problems, however they don't always work for us. Why? They may not take into account your personal values, strengths, unique situation and goals. Please don't read this to mean that non-certified Coaches aren’t valuable. They might have the right product or specific skill building program that is exactly what addresses a need you have. In this regard, these coaches may have many offerings that effectively complement Professional Coaching. 

Why Hire a Coach:

When researching a Coach, it is important to understand exactly what they offer. Coaches may be very broad in how they market themselves (ex. life, career, or business), or they may be very specific about their niche (ex. helping multi-level marketers attract clients and grow teams). In general, the following are some benefits of working with a Professional Coach:

  1. Gain Clarity– Define goals, uncover critical blind spots, identify and leverage strengths 
  2. Generate Solutions– Develop effective strategies, make critical decisions with ease, address potential gaps 
  3. Increase Motivation– Deepen commitment, stay accountable, accelerate results  
  4. Improve Mindset and Skills– Create successful habits, develop a growth mindset, build skills that address gaps 
  5. Improve Relationships– Master difficult conversations, attract the people you want, develop strong support networks 
  6. Gain Confidence– Conquer limiting beliefs and  learn how to maximize your potential 
  7. Achieve Work/Life Balance– Prioritize, remove barriers, build time management skill 

Hopefully you found this to be a comprehensive definition of what Coaching is. As the profession and science behind coaching evolves, I will continue to share and update accordingly. And if you still have questions, please ask! As always, I would love to continue this dialogue.