When You Need A Coach


Do you need a coach?  If you saw a top athlete without a coach, you would think it odd.  And yet in the business world where the stakes are higher, having a coach is not a given.  We have fortunately moved past the stage where coaching had a negative perception.  For example, if you need a coach you must be in trouble.  Many of the world’s top CEO’s and leaders have coaches, for example Alan Mulally when he was at Ford.  That said, not everyone needs a coach.

What is coaching?

Let’s start by taking a look at what coaching is.  The International Coach Federation defines coaching as:

‘partnering with another person in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential’

Notice the definition doesn’t say anything about telling or teaching.  This is the biggest difference between advising or mentoring and coaching.  Advising is about imparting advice.  If I was you, I would do X.  This can be very helpful, especially when you don’t know what to do.  But what happens if you know what to do but you still aren’t getting the results you expect?  An advisor would conclude you aren’t doing what they advised or you didn’t understand the advice.  They would tell you again.

The difference between coaching and advising

A coach takes a different approach.  In my coaching, I also explain what needs to happen.  The bigger question is what is or might get in the way of that person being able to do it?  Sometimes, nothing gets in the way and the person picks up the new skill quickly.  Often this isn’t the case.  Consider someone who struggles with time management.  They could use the best process available and still not be able to manage their time.  Why?  Because they struggle with saying no.  If they are unable to say no, there isn’t a process that will solve their problem.  They have to explore why saying no is hard, and learn to develop a new mindset or belief to help them overcome it.  A good coach will help them develop the abilities and process that go along with effective time management.

When do you need a coach?

I started with the question, ‘Do you need a coach?’  I am revising this question slightly to ‘When do you need a coach?’  If you are facing a new situation and you feel confident about pursuing it, you probably don’t need a coach.  A coach would be helpful and so would an advisor or mentor.  In contrast, in these two situations, you may need a coach:

  • If you are facing a situation, you feel uncertain and you are not sure why.
  • You are stuck.  You’ve tried a number of things and you aren’t getting the desired results.

Both of these situations illustrate there is something else going on that may be holding you back.  An advisor will tell you what they would do, but they aren’t you.  A coach will be able to understand it from your perspective and help you achieve a breakthrough by uncovering new possibilities.  They will also help you navigate that journey until you’ve developed the required skill or behavior.

What’s going on for you?  Are you lacking the knowledge of what to do or is there something else holding you back?  Check out why Kevin and Marceau sought out a coach.