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What is Coaching, Really?

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

What is coaching? How is it different from other disciplines? Does having a coach mean you're failing? If you've ever asked these questions, this post will help you get some clarity.

What is Coaching?

  • Coaching is a dynamic *process* which helps participants achieve meaningful, sustainable results through focused individual attention. The methodology behind coaching is designed to produce one thing: growth. To achieve this, coaching provides consistent feedback, support, challenge, and encouragement. Coaching is an incredibly powerful *tool* for raising self-awareness, revealing blind-spots, breaking old habits, creatively problem-solving and sparking new ways of thinking.

"...raising self awareness, revealing blind-spots, breaking old habits, creatively problem-solving and sparking new ways of thinking."

  • Coaching is a *partnership*. It requires both sides (the coach and the participant) to be completely committed. It’s a partnership that centers around the needs, habits, experience, and learning styles of the participant. No two coaching relationships look the same, and no two sessions are identical. Coaching is an intensely personal, dynamic process, so it is 100% tailored to the goals, challenges, and progress of the unique participant in their unique season. In short, it's all about YOU, the participant.

How is Coaching Different?

  • Coaching is NOT therapy. Although coaching addresses the whole person, it meets drastically different needs than therapy. A key element of therapy is exploring the past and seeking to understand its effects in order to move towards holistic wellbeing. Therapy often deals with emotional, psychological and relational health. As coaches, we are not qualified to address these. Instead, we focus on leadership and management health. Coaching only looks to the past long enough to provide context for the present and a foundation to the future. If coaching reveals trauma, dysfunction, or continuous unhealthy behaviors, we highly encourage participants to seek the help of professional therapists.

  • Coaching is NOT consulting. One of the key differences between coaching and consulting is how the process works. Consultants are paid to tell you what you should know and what you should do. Consultants come with a wealth of information in a particular area of expertise to provide specific solutions. Coaches, on the other hand, are experts in the coaching process with a very specific skillset to help participants learn and grow. You might think of a consultant as a doctor with an extensive body of knowledge. A doctor may diagnose you and tell you that you need to lose weight for your health. A personal trainer, like a coach, will come alongside you with the necessary skill set and put in the hours alongside you to move you to health. Another key difference is that consultants often works with an executive/management team, board, or other leadership body. Coaches most often work 1-on-1 with a specific person – at any level of an organization.

  • Coaching is NOT teaching or training. These disciplines often center around the impartation of information in a group setting. Though good teaching/training is interactive and collaborative, it is not a long-term partnership. Individual coaching, on the other hand, is a personal, 1-on-1 partnership that holds the participant accountable at every step of the way. (Every. Step. Of. The. Way.) A coaching relationship also extends beyond the meeting sessions and focuses on actionable steps, tangible results, and continuous follow-through.

Coaching "focuses on actionable steps, tangible results, and continuous follow-through."

What are Some Misconceptions about Coaching?

  • Misconception #1: “Anyone can be a coach.” Yes – and no, no, noooo. Yes, anyone can and should incorporate coaching principles into their leadership. However, that is not the same as certified, professional coaching. Certified coaches are trained and certified for a reason. Good coaching digs deep, and if done incorrectly, it can seriously damage a participant and/or hurt a company. Good coaches strive to find the root causes for leadership behaviors and beliefs in order to address those at the core and change ingrained bad habits. While some aspects of coaching may come naturally to some people, there are coaching and leadership skills that require in-depth training and practice to maximize their effectiveness. It takes great skill to help someone identify and reshape their mindset. Always make sure you work with a certified coach!

  • Misconception #2: “Coaching is only for executives and business owners.” In the business world, coaching is often reserved for the top of the company leadership. In many cases, this happens partially because of impact, and partially because of cost. However, executives and business owners are not the only ones who can benefit from coaching! Coaching is not limited to a particular leadership level, age group or industry. At Arabona, we are bringing coaching to young, up-and-coming leaders. Whether it’s a new high-potential employee, someone in their first manager role or at a director position, we believe coaching can prove truly beneficial to a company at every level of leadership. We believe that constructive training early on is far more effective and impactful than corrective training much further down the career path. To reflect this, we created a pricing structure that makes it realistic and easy for companies to invest in their young talent.

"...coaching can prove truly beneficial to a company at every level of leadership."

  • Misconception #3: “Coaching is for failing leaders.” In the past, coaching came with a negative connotation. If you were told you’d be getting a coach, it likely meant you were really struggling. Coaching was sort of the last ditch effort before giving up on someone. However, that is no longer the case! We are so thankful that the benefits of coaching have become better understood in recent years. Coaching is great for future leaders and seasoned leaders, exceptional leaders, and struggling leaders, and really, any other leaders who are committed to their growth. Wherever you are on the skills continuum on your leadership journey, coaching will move you forward.

Have other questions? Heard of any other misconceptions? Let us know! E-mail us at or contact us here!



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