What’s the point of Coaching? Understanding the role of the formal and informal Coach.

It’s probably only fair to say from the start that i’m posing a question to which i have no answer. I think i know why Coaching is a good thing, but i can only tell you what the point of a Coach is for me, not for you, and not for anyone else.

Coaching is just the vogue term for something that’s always been true. If you want to learn to do something, the best place to start is to find someone that already knows how to do it. As an activity, Coaching can be either formal, or informal, but it’s certainly something that happens every day and something that we can learn to both do and be better at.

Coaching is a form of collaborative learning, where we each, at different points in our lives and learning journeys, take different roles. Sometimes we act as novices, sometimes as experts, sometimes as Coach, sometimes as person being coached. But Coaching is never truly a one way process, it’s always got a two way dynamic, there is something for everyone to learn.

It’s the nature of this two way relationship that’s particularly interesting for me, especially as we spend increasing amounts of time looking at virtual coaching, coaching in the online space, where there is a more formal framework for the communication. On one level, Coaching can just be a framework that allows us to ask questions, to seek expertise and advice, to get feedback and modify our actions accordingly. But it can be more than that. It can be a more exploratory process, where we remove the idea that the Coach has the answers, and look at their role more as a sounding board. Sure, they may be more experienced, but it might be that the answers reside in ourselves, and that the role of the Coach is simply to help us to identify them.

It’s also worth thinking about the extent to which we rely on formal coaching as opposed to informal methods. This is a very personal balance, hence why i feel i can only answer for myself. Some people use very informal coaching frameworks. Working with musicians, i’ve identified instances where they are using networks on Facebook in a coaching capacity, highly informal, highly fluid, highly effective. At the other end of the spectrum are the types of formal and specialised Coaches in use by other people, often subject matter specific, such as the colleague using a Coach to improve their presentation skills, or the person trying to improve their accounting skills. These types of formalised Coaching interventions are targeted at specific issues and may be highly time limited.

Whatever the point of Coaching, it’s a highly personal activity, and the nature of the relationship will be different be it virtual coaching or face to face. Ultimately, the ‘point’ of coaching is to achieve something that you couldn’t do without it, so be it informal, formal, business focussed or aiming for personal development, understanding what works best for us, understanding our personal coaching story, is the foundation for how we can be a better Coach to others.

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About Julian Stodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Coaching, Virtual Coaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What’s the point of Coaching? Understanding the role of the formal and informal Coach.

  1. Pingback: A six stage methodology for learning. Part 3 – Demonstration | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: A methodology for learning. Part 7 – Footsteps | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  3. Pingback: Performance in Social Leadership | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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