The International Coach Federation defines the coaching experience, for business and academic executives this way:
“Professional Coaching is an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.”
Then they go on to describe what happens in each session:
In each meeting, the client chooses the focus of conversations, while the coach listens and contributes observations and questions. This interaction creates clarity and moves the client into action. Coaching accelerates the client’s progress by providing greater focus and awareness of choice. Coaching concentrates on where clients are today and what they are willing to do to get to where they want to be tomorrow.
In most phone sessions, lasting from 30-40 minutes, three or four times each month, now some 5000 coaches are meeting with their clients across North America each month. (Only a small percentage of coaching sessions are conducted in face-to-face conversations.)
Most clients stay in coaching for a period of nine months, and then take a break. Some enter with a view to resolving some particular situation that is especially painful, and continue past the short-term resolution for additional support.
This is not therapy, and is not a substitute for therapy. It is a highly sophisticated form of mentoring, and the benefits to the client are many:
This last benefit seems so “cliché”, but there is a genuine vacuum in theperceptions of many leaders between their personal hopes and dreams and the way they spend their time each working day and hour.
In our coaching sessions, we are motivated by two or three axioms, or principles, without losing sight of the individual(s) in the session.
Every person is perceived as a healthy, responsible and gifted creator of his/her life and person.
As coaches, we consider it a privilege to be invited to share in each person’s journey. Not only do we respect the confidentiality of the guest to whom we have been invited to be temporary ‘host’, but we also are privileged to be co-explorers and co-creators with our guest of his/her adventure.
Some of our clients merely need to know that their perceptions and feelings and thoughts easily pass a “reality check”.
Others are opening to the prospect of not having to live their lives in a solitary silo of independence and exclusively rugged individualism and are not surrendering their power or their individuality by engaging in the coaching process.
Some clients enter coaching because they do not know, or cannot see, any hope, for the moment. We agree with Jim Douglas, theologian and writer, who answered Joanna Macy’s question, “What do you substitute for hope?” this way:
“Possibilities…possibilities…you can’t predict, just make space for them. There are so many.’ That too is waiting, active waiting—moving out on the fog-bound trail, though you cannot see the way ahead.”
Some of our clients are “actively waiting” while they give active consideration to many possibilities, without knowing what is out there on the fog-bound trail. As coaches, we are more than willing to “accompany” their active waiting, without judgement, without prodding them into action, without impatience.
Talking with a stranger is often a way to “begin to really listen to ourselves”. There are no hidden agendas hanging over the dialogue and there is no reason for the coach to hold back on the questions or the observations s/he makes.
There is also no reason to be with a coach with whom there is not a good “fit”, not that there is no room for being nudged, pushed, tested and even challenged in a healthy, pro-active manner, but that the process is one in which both are engaged, to which both are committed and in which both are free to negotiate.
Setting the agenda for a coaching session, of course, is the prerogative and responsibility of the client. And then, within the conversation, each time there is a possible action for which the client wishes to be held accountable, s/he can agree or disagree to be held accountable to take that action.
Some coaches have clients who enter a session saying, “I don’t want to work on anything today; I just want you to provide safe and silent space for me to be in with you.” And that is fine with the coach, including this coach.
While there is clear evidence that approximately 80% of current coaches are female, there is also evidence that more and more clients are male.
What coaches are not!
Coaches are not rescuers or enablers for being stuck and for refusing to take responsibility for oneself. Coaches are not easily engaged in a process that is not working for the client. All coaches agree that both client and coach will “know” when the sessions are not working for the client. Listening to my own experience and that of other coaches, we agree that there are times when coaches need to recommend to a client that s/he find another coach, who might be more suitable to the client’s needs.
So if the phone and/or the Internet have eliminated geography as an issue for those seeking coaching, there is only the question of the costs involved.
Free First Session/Costs
At The Acorn Centre, we would like to offer to anyone seeking a coach a free first session of up to one hour, either in person, or by phone. If both coach and prospective client are comfortable with the session, then we work out an agreement for a first month. If two sessions of 40 minutes are requested, the fee is $200 per month. Three sessions cost $250 per month. Four sessions cost $300 per month. These numbers apply in both Canada and the U.S. American clients pay in U.S. currency.
© The Acorn Centre 2003
The Acorn Centre