We’ve all thought at one time or another that we need or want to improve an aspect of our professional performance. It could be anything from engaging more effectively with our employees, working with difficult people, or staying focused on our priorities. Some people attend workshops or read books to learn how to develop skills in these less-developed areas. While these can be very helpful, they don’t always result in the sense of competence they are seeking. For many professionals, a one-on-one coaching relationship is a more targeted solution that instills confidence in their new skills – and results in a more successful personal and organizational work style.

Coaching works! Coaching focuses on a person’s unique learning needs, style and situation. Consider an athlete learning new plays or a challenging game plan. Individualized attention and regular feedback on how well they are performing can deliver immediate insights and learning that otherwise could take months to achieve. Without coaching, our talents may remain underdeveloped or underutilized. Here are some of the specific elements of the coaching relationship that are different from intellectual learning and that empower true change.

  • Customized learning activities designed for the coachee’s situation and style. At the center of coaching is a personal relationship where the coach knows the person well and can design practice opportunities that resonate with the learner. The coachee is then able to accept, reject or re-design their own learning program. These specialized assignments with the person’s full involvement bring forth remarkable growth experiences.
  • Ongoing support, consistently built through a trusting relationship with the coach. Being able to learn from both positive and challenging experiences in an open, honest coach relationship offers deep insights and awareness into the learner’s own personal change dynamics.
  • Personal accountability that increases follow through for one’s actions. With the coach’s guidance, the coachee builds a strategy for personal accountability – not so much to the coach as to themselves. This engagement process is often a very powerful tool for growth and change.

What are your experiences with coaching? What has made the difference for you?