What ACTUALLY Happens in Coaching?

Coaching imageDo you feel like there is some mystery around coaching? Are you curious to know what actually happens in coaching?

After six years of coaching I am starting to notice a pattern and feel confident enough now to talk about the outcomes I see for people when they engage with a coach. It feels like it is time to talk about that thing people are wondering about: What actually happens in coaching?

Working with a coach has many outcomes for the client and each of them are unique to the person based on their specific goals. It is important to remember that coaching is a goal-oriented process. It is designed to get you from here to there, from A to Z, to places you have been thinking about but for some reason were never able to get to on your own. In practical terms, this looks like many things including promotions, resignations, new jobs, new businesses, renewed passion, new directions and most of all, a renewed sense of who you are and what is important to you.

Studies about coaching in the workplace show that coaching develops high performers, enhances leadership skills, and improves team performance, productivity and overall business outcomes. I truly believe that using coaching within your organization is a business strategy! It is not just a “nice thing to do” for your employees. It is a differentiating business investment that can quickly ramp up results and outcomes in your organization.

What I want to focus on here is the personal experience with coaching. We call our clients the “coachee”, and that is how I will refer to them here. I have created my top 5 observations of what happens for coachees when working with a coach.

1. Clarity

This is one of the most common outcomes I see with my coachees. Through the coaching process they are able to get clear about things that were fuzzy, lost of simply forgotten to them. Clarity around what they really want, what their values are, what choices are possible, and most of all a clarity around who they really want to be. In a world of expectations and busy lives, we can lose ourselves pretty easily and the coaching process helps bring clarity to allow for better decision-making that sustains itself over time.

2. Breakthroughs

This can sound really dramatic, but honestly I get to witness people have their own mental breakthrough because something they thought was impossible or out of reach, suddenly becomes doable with some intention and action. When we get the clarity around what might be holding us back or keeping us stuck, it is so much easier to identify strategies to deal with what those tethers actually are. And often, what is actually keeping us stuck is not what we think at a cognitive level. Coaching helps us dig deeper and find our inner wisdom.

3. Confidence

Through the process of coaching we use some assessment tools to understand who you are, what makes you tick and what unique strengths you bring to the world. I know for me personally, working with my first coach in 2009 was an incredibly powerful confidence booster while in a role that had me doubting my ability. Through coaching I was able to tap into my strengths and embrace them as an asset, even though they were different from my colleagues. I embraced my uniqueness and learned how to bring those strengths to my leadership role, and toned down my internal barrage of criticism to allow my potential to show up. As a coach I love watching the confidence shift in my clients and see them leave our session feeling differently about themselves than when they started!

4. Momentum

I always say to potential clients “If you don’t want things to change, don’t hire a coach!”. The process of coaching is goal-oriented and designed to move you forward. By engaging in a series of coaching sessions, coachees’ inherently gain traction and start to see forward momentum. This is because each coaching conversation ends with an action step that the coachee identifies and commits to taking forward. The key piece here is that the coachee decides what action to take, not the coach!

5. Accountability

This is the secret sauce of coaching. When the coachee commits to an action, they will use the coach to hold them accountable to following through. When you know your coach is cheering you on, and holding you accountable to taking action, it creates a culture of follow-through on things that you would otherwise procrastinate on, or avoid all together. Often the things we fear the most, are the things we most need to do! Accountability is the glue that makes coaching so powerful for change and progress.

These 5 outcomes from coaching are just a small sample of what actually “happens in coaching” and I would welcome your comments, perspective and additions based on your own experience when working with a coach!