What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) describes coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.” But my view is that it can be just as effective to describe it as “conversation with a purpose”. That purpose is to give individuals the opportunity to learn rather than be taught, through a process the promotes and enables greater self awareness, and in doing so helps them to develop their own potential.
That requires a trusted, confidential dialogue within a safe, contracted relationship that we will work together to establish. In order to further that dialogue and promote self awareness, I will ask open questions that aim to encourage thought and reflection and provide challenge – not questions that I think I know the answer to, but that you need to consider for yourself. But I also work on the premise that silence can be invaluable in creating a thinking space: as the writer and coach Nancy Kline observed in “Time to Think”: just because a person has stopped talking doesn’t mean that they have stopped thinking. Having spent many years in business with people striving to get their point across, this resonates strongly: I have realised that usually the most valuable part of any conversation is the listening not the speaking!
It is also important to note that as the client, you are in control of each session and indeed our overall engagement. Our focus will always be what you want to talk about or pursue. We will discuss and contract that at the outset of the relationship, and again at the beginning of each session, to ensure that we are working on whatever is most useful for you at that moment. You can also tell me how you would find it most helpful for me to conduct the session.
What can you expect from a coaching engagement?
You can expect a calm, safe space, whether in person or on Zoom, during which the entire focus will be on you and what you want to talk about. That focus, and being properly listened to, is an increasingly rare commodity, in view not only of the usual social niceties of exchanging views and asking about each other but also of the constant encroachment of social and other media.
Given this focus on you as a person, you can expect that over time our sessions will give you significant insights into how you think, work and interact with others. You will have the opportunity to think through specific challenges or obstacles and consider how best to approach new opportunities – and in each case approach these situations with greater confidence borne of increased self awareness and understanding of your own potential and needs.
How do we get started?
We would always begin with a short getting-to-know you session, to discuss your aims and expectations, agree the basis on which to work and check that we both feel we are suitable for each other – if that chemistry doesn’t feel right, the chances are that you will not get as much benefit from our conversations. If you decide that the relationship isn’t quite right, we would be happy to refer you on to someone else who might be a better fit.
This session would also be an opportunity to talk about other matters, such as confidentiality and ethics: the ICF’s code of ethics can be found in the link below. We would also discuss how often you might want to meet and over what kind of period, what it will cost and indeed any other questions you might have.
Assuming you wish to proceed, I would then send you a short letter summarising what we have agreed, to ensure mutual clarity as our relationship develops. We would then plan our first full session. Sessions can most often be for 60 or 90 minutes, although they can be shorter or longer depending on what we agree.
But of course, the most important part of getting started is taking the first step. So do pick up the phone or drop me a line: my contact details can be found here:
Should you wish to review the ICF’s code of ethics, you can find it here: