Life coaching. Executive Coaching. Resilience coaching. Leadership coaching. Coaching in all its forms, has, over the past decade, erupted into a full-blown industry. And that’s because coaching works.
But it has to be done right.
At Appletree we see coaching as one of the most impactful ways to support leaders to shape good culture, navigate uncertainty, deal with complexity, unlock productivity, creativity and ultimately, find greater levels of personal and professional fulfillment.
But what is coaching really? Is there science behind coaching and what about all these accreditation’s coaches should have? Also, is coaching really that effective and if I decide to look for a coach, what attributes should I be looking for?
Given our passion for coaching we felt it’s time to unpack some of the questions together with you.
What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential’.
Coaching is, therefore, a journey that you embark on to maximize your potential. Coaching is about looking ahead at what you seek to achieve, or what you desire to be and partnering with you to overcome roadblocks and reach those destinations. Coaching can be applied to leadership, productivity, entrepreneurship, strategy, goals, relationships etc. Its agile and contextual and is, simply put a meaningful exchange between two people, one of which (the coach) is committed to you (the client), your context, your needs and ultimately, your personal and professional fulfillment.
What is the science behind coaching?
A recent article (link above) said it best; Once it fires, it wires!
‘Research in the field of neuroscience is expanding and the phenomena of “neuroplasticity” is involved. ”Neuroplasticity” is the ability to rewire our brains at any age. For us at Appletree this is key. At the end of the day the reason why individuals and organisations invest in coaching is so that they can transform. As the article says ‘Coaches help their clients bring mindful attention to creating new habits and beliefs and thus form new neural pathways’ This is because of the space the coaching process gives to a client to test perspectives and try out new ways of thinking in a safe space. Being able to wrestle through change is what brings about the change. And, given a coaching process is centered around one individual, time can be given to reinforce this new neural pathway until it becomes, as the article says ‘automatic, integrated and embodied’.
As the article explains, to bring about this shift in thinking and behaviors, coaches are trained to use various techniques which can include; Nero Linguistic (NLP), Systems Thinking, Constellations, Process Work and Emotional, Social and Relationship Intelligence (ESI), Co-Active Coaching, creative thinking and more.
At the core of all of these techniques is the asking of powerful and challenging questions, removing judgment and assumptions, accountability to decisions being made, clarity of vision and values, creating plans and bringing about focus as well as exploration of new perspectives.
Coaching is not a loose informal conversation between a coach and a client. There is science, process and technique that goes into the coaching process which, when applied, yields exceptional results.
Why is coaching so effective for growth and development?
Growth and development can take various forms; webinars, workshops, conferences and forums. Whilst all of these play their part in the growth and development of people and teams, coaching has several advantages over each of them.
- As we have already looked at, the science behind coaching has the power to bring about authentic transformation.
- The client receives dedicated attention and is able to apply topics, themes, questions and perspectives directly into their context.
- A client has the space to wrestle with thoughts, pause and unpack a topic or theme, ask the questions that they need to ask and keep focused on what they need to get out of the coaching journey. In other words, coaching is done at a pace which works for the client.
- Given the fact that a coaching session is typically an hour to an hour and a half, the client is able to slot coaching into their diary in a way that does not overwhelm them or leave them returning to stresses and pressures created by not being at their desk. Coaching, therefore, feels like it is part of one’s daily life rather than a distraction.
- Coaching is also relational. Being able to deal with issues and discuss important topics with someone you trust is a meaningful way to learn and grow.
In a recent study (link below) done by the ICF, the vast majority of companies (86%) say that make the investment into coaching back through increased productivity, improved self-confidence, improved relationships, improved communication skills and improved mental wellbeing and balance. This is what every organisations wants from its growth and development strategy; results! Actual transformation. And given the power coaching has to transform, organisations are turning to this mechanism to bring about the transformation they require.
What does it mean to be an accredited coach?
At Appletree, we advocate for being coached by an accredited coach. All of our coaches are accredited ensuring you get the most out of your coaching journey.
Accreditation by coaching accreditation bodies is increasingly sought after in the coaching industry – particularly in the business or executive coaching field. With no formal regulation in the industry, there is a need for coaches to demonstrate credibility and provide reassurance to their clients. To do this, they enter into an accreditation process. Each accreditation has certain requirements which they must fulfill which can include:
- Working through theory relevant to that accreditation
- Receiving coaching by mentors from the accreditation body
- Coaching others in front of those mentors and working through scenarios.
- Logging a certain amount of actual coaching hours.
Keen to know more? Read this guide on accreditation bodies and how to become a coach with each of them.
What should you look for in a coach?
Given the fact that you and your coach will be working together closely, here are some key attributes to look for:
- Track record: experience, results delivered, successes and accomplishments
- Training: Certifications and accreditations.
- Toolkit: Methodologies, assessments, tools, programs etc. to enable growth
- Trust: Trust is built over time, but it begins when we connect with someone for the first time. Some indicators to look for: Demonstrated results, third-party confirmation and chemistry.
Your coach is choosing you too and the indicators are: commitment, focus, openness and willingness to change
How can you get the most of out of a coaching process?
Remember that your coach is choosing you too. Coaching is an investment and requires, on behalf of the coach, high levels of emotional capacity. A coach will be more engaged and investment when you show:
- Commitment. Pitch up on time, stick to your sessions and show that you are as invested in the process as they are.
- Focus. Whilst in the coaching session be fully present. This will ensure you get maximum value and avoid coaching simply being a ‘tick box’ which yields minimal results.
- Openness. Dive in and trust the process. A coach needs your perspective, thoughts and questions and concerns on the table. That’s what they work with. So be open and surrender to the journey.
- Willingness to Change. This is key. Go into the coaching process with the knowledge that you don’t have it all together and that you do need to change in some areas. Let go of preconceived ideas that certain behaviours / thinking is right and open yourself up to new patterns in these areas.