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The Complete Guide Of All You Need To Know About Coaching

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This guide is aimed at giving you an exhaustive overview of coaching to better understand the background and the practice, whether you are an aspiring coach or a potential client.

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The origins of coaching

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The word coach was first used to describe a “large kind of carriage”. It got its name from the city of Kocs in Hungary, where wagons, carts, carriages and wheeled vehicles were designed in the 16th century. It also later applied to railway cars.


So it carried the sense of traveling from one place to another. At the beginning of the 19th century, Oxford University started using it as a slang for “instructor/ trainer”, “for a tutor who carries a student through an exam”. Around 1860, it was used in sports for the trainer of a team or an athlete, which is nowadays the most common definition.

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From sports performance…

Fast forward to the 1970s. The Inner Game of Tennis introduced the idea that the self plays a huge part in sports performance. In this book, a Harvard-English-major-turned-tennis pro named Timothy Gallwey writes that the right approach to improve performance is not to focus on technique and practice, but rather to understand that “every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.”

  • The outer game is facing an opponent in a match, which all sports coaches focused on.
  • The inner game is internal: competing self-doubt, lack of confidence or concentration, anxiety, etc.

Timothy Gallwey suggested that there are two selves:

  • Self 1 is the brain, the analytical and worrying self,
  • Self 2 is the body, the intuitive and physical self.

Self 1 instructs, Self 2 acts. The inner game is to let go of Self 1 (stop being so self-critical) to let Self 2 in control (the unconscious).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

…to business performance

Timothy Gallwey’s approach was quite revolutionary at that time. It quickly spread to the business world, where organisations began to create workshops, trainings, and seminars on leadership and personal effectiveness (e.g. Werner Erhard’s work).

By the 80s, coaching for performance had become increasingly popular. John Whitmore, who had trained with Timothy Gallwey, worked on a methodology inspired from The Inner Game of Tennis. The GROW model was born and his book Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose was a best-seller. Since then, GROW has been one of the most popular and used models in companies.

Positive psychology was also developed in the 90s as a result of the success of self-help, personal growth, and well-being. Psychologists and researches started studying what makes people happy, rather than what makes people unwell. Since then, many new concepts and models have emerged that apply to both psychology and coaching, like resilience, self-awareness, or emotional intelligence.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_separator][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_column_text]

The coaching philosophy

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Coaching sessions allow people to create self-awareness and be more present in the moment. It empowers them to embrace change, whichever change they seek to implement. Coaching acknowledges that it’s not what happens to people that matters the most, but their reaction to what happens. When people are able to change dysfunctional and counter-productive behaviours, they are able to face challenges with calm and not let obstacles undermine them.


  1. Coaching is positive. Everyone is okay. Everyone has choice. Everyone can decide for themselves. Everyone does the best they can. Everyone has the resources they need.
  2. Coaching is goal- and action-oriented. An overarching goal is set at the beginning of the coaching, and at every session at least one action is decided.
  3. Coaching is client-focused. The client decides the goal, sets the agenda, and commits to actions they will take. The coach follows the client’s lead.

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The types of coaching

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Because every person and situation is different, the topics brought in coaching are various. As the practice and study of coaching grew, new models and tools were developed to better answer each of these specific situations. As a result, coaches started specialising themselves in certain areas.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]People choose the coaching they need depending on what areas of their life they want to explore, and what they want to achieve. If you want to handle a personal change, a business coach will not support you through that transition like a life coach would. Here are the 9 most common types of coaching you will come across.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes”][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Leadership coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Leadership coaching focuses on what makes someone a leader. It explores the way people perceive themselves as leaders and their behaviours. Rather than working on improving managerial tasks, it helps people define their values and purpose. People doing leadership coaching know what is driving them and how it impacts their work.

Topics: leadership style, purpose and values, inspiring others, building resilience, big picture thinking, taking risks, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Executive Coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This type of coaching is for managers who need guidance on how to handle their day-to-day but also develop their managerial skills and confidence. It supports managers in having difficult conversations, motivating a team, prioritising tasks, communicating effectively and building confidence in their role.

Topics: relationship building, challenge with an employee, time management, proactivity, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Career coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Career coaches help clients with their career. They both work on tangible goals like setting an action plan to move up in a company, or intangible goals like motivation and work identity. It is very useful at all the stages of a career as aspirations and goals will change overtime. Many models and tools can be applied to career coaching for the client to make the most of their sessions, including the use of psychometric tests.

Topics: changing career, work status, job loss, promotions, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes”][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Life coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Life coaches work with their clients on issues in their personal life. The scope is very wide and ranges from developing a more fulfilling and purposeful life to defining a direction and dealing with sudden life changes. It is goal-oriented so the client knows why they are here and what they are achieving. It can be transformational becauses it touches on values, beliefs, and identity of the person being coached.

Topics: work-life balance, personal transitions and changes, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Business Coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Business coaches work with business owners, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders on organisational efficiency and strategic planning that fits their company’s objectives. They support decision makers on issues they might encounter in their business and support them into finding a solution and implementing sustainable change to processes and culture. Bringing a person outside the business to conduct audits is a great way to bring a new perspective.

Topics: setting business goals, strategy, optimising processes, improving efficiency, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Health and wellness coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Health and wellness coaching focuses on lifestyle choices people make and how they can improve their health. It supports clients in setting health goals and implementing change to support healthy habits. The coach should be educated on topics related to health to provide guidance if the client is lacking knowledge in these areas. It’s very important that health coaches are training and hold professional credentials in the fields they are coaching people on.

Topics: physical activity, health-related issues, weight loss, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row equal_height=”yes”][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Performance coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Performance coaching is assisting people in improving their performance at work according to success criterias they define themselves or others have defined for them (company or manager). It works on developing motivation, identifying learning opportunities, supporting efficiency and consistency, and celebrating every success along the way.

Topics: performance issues at work, setting an action plan, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Skills Coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Skills coaches work with their clients in developing, learning and improving skills they don’t master yet. One of the most common skills to learn that way is public speaking. In this partnership, the coach can act like a mentor, guiding the client in what should or shouldn’t be done, but also building confidence and resilience.

Topics: public speaking, communication, soft skills, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Team coaching

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Team coaches facilitate conversations and workshops for groups that work together, whether it is on building trust, solving issues, improving efficiency, or simply raising awareness on what makes a good team. There are a number of exercises the coach can ask the group to do and discuss. Team members are usually more comfortable to open up when their manager is not the one leading the meeting.

Topics: team efficiency, improving processes, promoting a positive environment, etc.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_separator][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_column_text]

The process of coaching

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Coaches follow a specific framework to ensure they provide the best experience possible to their clients. Here are the general guidelines you could a coach to follow.


1. Consultation call / Chemistry session

After you reach out to a coach, the first step is usually to talk to them on the phone. The purpose of this conversation is twofold:

  1. For you: it’s important that you feel the coach and that you already establish some sort of trust. Do you feel like you will be able to talk to this person openly? Are they professional? Do they answer your questions? What are their experience and qualifications? It’s the time for you to decide whether it is the right person to work with.
  2. For the coach: the coach will also evaluate if you are a good fit for them as a client. Are you looking for support in a topic they are specialised in? They will ask questions about you, your situation and what you expect from the coaching.
2. Coaching proposal

After knowing more about your goals and if both parties agree to work with each other, the coach will make you a proposal (either on the phone or as a followup email) to outline the coaching that will be necessary. The minimum that is recommended to implement positive and sustainable change is 6 months with 1 hour to 1.5 hour every other week. It is just a general guideline though. It obviously depends on your availability, your overarching goal, the time frame, the way the coach works, how often and how long the sessions will be, etc.

The coach will also tell you about their pricing, the payment model/method and the location of the first session (in an office, in a public space, outside, on skype etc.).

3. The first session

The first session is an important one as the coach will start by verbally contracting the coaching relationship, which means giving you additional information on:

  • The code of ethics they follow
  • The rules of confidentiality
  • The data they keep on you (what they do with their notes if they take any, etc.)
  • How coaching works and what you can expect from the process
  • The coaching you agreed to do together: type, frequency, etc.

This is the perfect moment to ask the coach any questions you didn’t ask before and to clarify things you didn’t understand.

4. The following sessions

At the end of every session, you will be asked to summarise what you discussed and what you learned during the session. You will then decide you want to achieve before the following session that will bring you closer to your overarching goal. You will be accountable for doing what you said you would, so expect the coach to ask you at the beginning of the following session what you did. If you haven’t done anything, you will be asked why, and the coach will help you explore your motivation and what you really want to do instead.

5. Redefining goals if they change

Throughout the relationship, it is possible that the agreement initially agreed upon changes. You might reach your goal sooner, or it might take longer, or the coaching might have uncovered something different than your original goal. It’s important to redefine the goal and purpose of coaching if they change. At the end of the original agreement, discuss with your coach what you want to do. You might want/need to continue on the same topic, or a different one. Make a new agreement with the coach, like you did the first time, so you can carry on with clarity.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_separator][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_column_text]

So, do you need coaching?

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After reading the different categories of coaching, chances are you probably realised that at some point in your life, you could have used some sort of support in at least one area. And that’s perfectly fine. No one has everything under control at all times.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The best way to understand if you need coaching and when to get it is to reflect on the topic that came to your mind when reading this article.

  • What are you thinking about right now?
  • What are the reasons why you are thinking about this topic?
  • What have you already done to solve/explore it?
  • What hasn’t worked?
  • Who did you talk to about it and what did you get from talking to them?
  • How important is it to you now or in the near future?
  • What would you gain from dealing with it?

If you have tried a couple of things but you can’t stick to them, if you have talked to people around you but the impact was limited, and if it’s important to you, you should consider talking to a coach. They will ask questions you were never asked before and you will be fully accountable for the change you want to implement. If you want to know more on how to choose the right person for you, follow the link below.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_separator][gem_divider margin_top=”60″][vc_column_text]

More resources

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