A crisp way to define coaching (Podcast #53)
Maik Frank

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In this podcast episode, we are going back to the roots by defining Coaching. What is different here is that I use the definition of the ICF, the International Coaching Federation. It is simple, crisp and meaningful in helping us decide whether what we do IS or IS NOT coaching!

ICFs definition:

“Coaching means partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.”

(Link: https://coachfederation.org/about)

In the episode, we look at basically every word/phrase in this definition to get a sense of its intent.

Partnering”: We don’t ‘boss’, we don’t give advice. Both parties contribute and are on an equal level and standing (which does NOT mean the share of speaking is 50/50!)

Partnering with Clients”: The introduction of the word ‘client’ gives a sense of the professional class of conversation that coaching is. Also, ‘partnering’ with a client is kind of unusual, as the relationship between the provider of a service and its buyer is typically not described as a partnership. It is the first real marker of what makes coaching truly different as a conversation…and it happens in the first 3 words of the definition!

Thought-provoking”: Was it says, we PROVOKE thoughts. This is different to giving some kind of idea to another person, by advising or solving. This word is a good signal for the type of role that a coach has in the relationship. 

Creative”: Coaching is not run-off-the-mill. While we follow certain guidelines and an overall process (next word), the interaction itself is highly unpredictable and full of twists and turns. This is what makes it a fun, interesting and enriching kind of interaction for clients. 

Process”: Coaching follows a certain fundamental process; and it is this area where the coach is the true expert. Knowing this helps us liberate ourselves from the typical pressure to become the expert in the client’s topic. 

Inspires”: This describes in one crisp word one of the impact we hope to have in our clients. Through the coaching process we hope to trigger a moment and type of inspiration that motivates the client to act on their awareness. Important to differentiate: The inspiration is a result of using the coaching process. We don’t ‘inspire’ the client through active pep-talk, for example. 

“Maximise their personal and professional potential”: There is one implication in this choice of words: there is a gap between the current state that the client is in and the ‘maximum’ they can achieve. It is our role to help the client maximise and move from their current state to what they desire. 

We notice that every word in the definition has meaning, and we hope that this little excursion back to the beginning can help you as well to become more fluent in explaining what professional coaching actually is!

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A few words about Maik

Maik is on a mission to give world-class coaching skills to every People Leader. He is a seasoned PCC Executive Coach, experienced online/offline Program Facilitator and founder of IntelliCoach.com, based in Singapore. He has a background in technology and governance and over 15 years of work experience in the mining, tech and coaching industry as a Specialist, People Leader and Coach. Maik has coached and trained more than 400 People Leaders to level up their communication impact and become more coach-like with their stakeholders. Why? The ability to help others without giving advice right away is still rare to be found. However, it is key to (1) building self-reliant, empowered teams and to (2) sustaining trusting and fast relationships with stakeholders in general.

Maik stands out by offering guaranteed measurable growth to his clients. He speeds up his their progress with an exciting mix of self-discovery, laser-sharp mental models, relevant skill practice and creative use of online technology. Maik also hosts the Coaching Leader Podcast (search for Intellicoach) to give Leaders anywhere in the world easy access to simple yet powerful coaching tools.

You will get our regular blog posts, extra resources from the podcast and information about our upcoming courses and webinars.

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