January 28, 2022

What is coaching?

Today I want to take a moment to tell you about coaching. It’s an important topic. One of my friends went to a conference recently, and he came back and said to me, “I think half the people I met at this conference were coaches.” So we then got into this discussion about coaching because there is a lot of interest around coaching. He started asking me about the different types of coaching and what coaching is specifically.

I wanted to focus on what coaching is and what coaching isn’t. When you think about coaching, especially in the workplace, executive coaching, and business coaching specifically, you are looking at a partnership between a coach and the person receiving the coaching. This partnership is there to help the client maximize who they can be on a personal and professional level. 

This coaching is meant to be forward-thinking, identifying goals, objectives, obstacles, things like that. I do want to point out that coaching is not mentoring. Mentoring is a valuable thing. It is having someone farther down the same road as you help you understand what is to come in a precise way for a particular industry. 

Coaching is also not therapy. There is an excellent value in receiving therapy. Having a counselor work with you on specific items that are keeping you from being able to do what you want to do in life is extremely valuable. That therapist or counselor is typically working with you on what has happened in the past. They are helping you process things that might have been an area of trauma for you, maybe addressing a chemical imbalance or something along those lines. They tend to work with you on a specific diagnosis and address that over time, so there can be a greater sense of healing and purpose in your life. 

A coach focuses on the future in a workplace context. The coach might occasionally talk about things with your life or personal journey if it makes sense at the time. The real focus, however, is helping you identify objectives, goals, and other things you are working toward in the workplace, helping guide you in how best to approach those consistently.

Coaching is not mentoring, and coaching is not therapy. Many executives I have known over time have had a mentor, a therapist, and a coach because they all have different functions. 

Coaching is not a secret code for therapy, and coaching is not a secret code for mentoring. Coaching, in the business or workplace context, is helping someone maximize who they can be — allowing them to have a better life and make life better for the people around them. 

About Dr. Nathan Mellor

A thought-leader, two-time TEDx speaker, author, and CEO of Strata Leadership, Dr. Nathan Mellor is recognized for his ability to connect at the heart level with a wide range of audiences. A proven executive coach, who has provided in excess of 2,500 coaching sessions for executive leaders, he believes providing the highest quality feedback requires caring deeply about others. He serves as a sounding board, sparring partner, and a source of encouragement for leaders seeking to maximize their effectiveness.