What is Coaching? A Comprehensive Guide

Coaching is a process that helps individuals reach their goals and become the best version of themselves. It involves creating awareness, empowering choice, and leading to change. Coaching is based on the belief that everyone has the answers to their own problems within them. Through dialogue, a coach helps the coachee (client) to set a goal, find the best way to achieve it, and unlock their inner potential.

The Cambridge dictionary defines coaching as providing training or helping to prepare someone for something. However, coaching is not just about training or preparation; it's about supporting someone on their journey to success. Coaching and psychotherapy both strive to help clients understand their true motives, values, and emotions related to a certain topic. The coach does not try to “cure” the client, but rather sees them as fully capable and healthy people.

Coaching originated in the 1970s as part of the Human Potential Movement. Business leaders have since recognized the transformative power of developing self-leadership principles and behaviors in all areas of their organization. Coaching focuses on the present rather than the past or future, and it's different from mentoring in that it tends to focus more on solving immediate problems or issues. At its core, coaching has always existed and has been practiced by emotionally and spiritually intelligent people who trust, respect, and believe in others' potential.

They take the time to listen, challenge, and support them so they can be their best selves. Knowledge and experience are important for performance, but mentality is even more so—and this is where performance coaching comes in. The coach doesn't need to be an expert in the field; they just need to help the individual unlock their own potential. In 1971, Timothy Gallwey met with Gallwey and began studying coaching with him.

He helped promote the principles of the Inner Game—the idea that coaches don't give direct answers but rather help clients find their own solutions using their own skills. The coach isn't obligated to understand all the rules of the field in which their client is trying to succeed; they just need to help them find answers to their burning questions.