(But thank you for your service)
My husband told me the other day that he gets annoyed “on my behalf” when hears people say they’re a coach and they’re clearly not. They’re consulting. Or mentoring. Or teaching. Or advising. But not coaching. I chuckled.
I get it. And it’s sweet. Sort of. But the fact is no one needs to be annoyed on my behalf. I’ve got it covered. And truth be told, on this topic, I have to actively work on NOT being annoyed. Because my initial reaction is to feel a bit punched in the gut when I hear someone say “I’m a coach” and we have different definitions of coaching.
But that’s MY problem. And arguably, a problem with my credentialing authority (International Coach Federation), but it isn’t a problem for the people calling themselves coaching who don’t agree with my definition. If they are serving their clients and making the world better, coach on! And, for that matter, I am a coach but I’m not always coaching. I often advise. Or consult. Or other things if that’s what my client needs.
But let’s clarify the differences:
- Advising: I tell you what I think is the best course of action
- Coaching: I help you discover and tap into the power to solve your own issues
- Consulting: I present to you an option or options for how to achieve your goals
- Mentoring: I tell you about my experience in and you may choose a similar path
- Teaching: I explain tools, models and distinctions (like defining coaching)
Also related is counseling and therapy. In an unregulated context, these often blend many techniques in advising, teaching and coaching. In a regulated context – as in state licensed or board certified professionals, these also require training and demonstrated performance against an established standard of care.
But the main difference between coaching and other approaches is that coaching is an inside-out approach. It reveals or uncovers knowledge and awareness. The others are outside-in. They disseminate information. All are valuable. And none are mutually exclusive.
As an ICF certified coach, I also adhere to a code of ethics, have met training and practical experience requirements, have demonstrated proficiency at ICF’s core competencies and it does NOT make me a better (or worse) coach than anyone else calling him or herself a coach. It’s just the path I chose.
What DOES annoy me is this:
The lack of standardization in my field has led to some other connotations (hello fancy word for assessment)…
1- People claiming to be coaches because it’s an “easy business” to be in since it does not “require” training or supervised performance according to a specified standard (unless certified). Many very good coaches, even not certified, are passionate about personal development and do extensive training across many disciplines. Also, it’s not easy. It’s soulful and deeply meaningful. It can be draining. It can be emotionally exhausting.
2-People selling a “I can fix your ” _____ ” in 5 days for <large dollar figure here>,” or snake oil dealers. Coaching isn’t just hard work for the coach. It’s hard for the client. There is never a quick fix.
Eh – it’s probably just those two that annoy me.
So – if you are serving your tribe and you call yourself a coach, coach on, friend!