Coaching vs. Other Behavioral Strategies

Coaching is a professional client-focused service where an individual, couple, or team is assumed to be healthy, powerful, and able to achieve goals with effective support, information, and guidance. There are significant and sometimes contrasting differences between coaching and other behavioral strategies, and these differences in and of themselves better highlight the strengths of coaching.

- Focuses on goals, results, and development
- Is future-focused and action-oriented
- Builds on a person's strengths
- Is based on assignments that forward the action toward objectives
- Involves a balance of inquiry to encourage thinking and advocacy (making evidence-based statements)

Example: LeeAnn participates in her company's leadership development program. One of the program's tools was an emotional intelligence assessment that gave her feedback on her strengths and challenges as they related to her leadership competencies. She set goals with a leadership coach on how she could leverage her strengths and improve in her challenge areas. She now knows what she needs to do to achieve her career goals in the next five years.

- Focuses on problems and pathologies and understanding the past
- Is based on personal discussion and insights
- Emphasizes feelings more than reasoning

Example: Pat could be a candidate for a leadership position in her company. However, she has developed a reputation for being a loose cannon. She easily becomes angry and volatile and has embarrassed herself and others on several occasions. Lately, she has developed a drinking problem. She can't seem to get control of her problem on her own and doesn't know why she gets so angry so easily.

- Is individualized, tailored, and customized to the individual
- Is based on gathered data on one particular individual or team
- Requires individual progress and measurement
- Involves an ongoing timeframe, using powerful questions for learning

Example: A team asks a coach to help it transition to working with a new software system. The team has to develop new ways of working together and across team boundaries. The coach gathers data from team members, as well as stakeholders, to help the team set objectives and create an action plan.

- Addresses generic skills and expectations for the client organization
- Involves a shorter timeframe than coaching
- Measures progress toward generic skill sets offered in the training

Example: A team is adapting to a new software system. They attend a two-day training class on the new system, which includes both technical and application protocols.

- Balances individual and organizational goals
- Requires powerful questions
- Can occur between peers
- Focuses on learning

Example: Walter has a career coach who helps him identify his strengths, weaknesses, interests, and needs. They explore various areas for a career transition.

- Emphasizes organizational goals
- Occurs between a senior and a junior employee
- Focuses on career development
- Involves the giving of advice

Example: Patricia has a mentor in her field of wildlife damage management, and he is helping her identify what certifications and training she needs to advance in her organization.

- Uses data to set goals
- Deepens learning to forward action
- Emphasizes personal change
- Moves toward making the client accountable for results

Example: Li's coach conducts an image study to determine how she is perceived by members of her team. The data will either confirm or disconfirm Li's belief that she provides excellent development and participative opportunities to her team members.

- Focuses on problem solving
- Uses data to diagnose problems
- Emphasizes group or organizational change
- Accepts the consultant as the expert

Example: Yusuf hires an information technology consultant to determine why the various systems are not providing the kind of data the chief executive officer needs to make certain financial decisions.

(Source: Association for Talent Development)

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