Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Coaching vs Consulting. What’s the difference?


Coaching focuses on people and can impact systems and processes. In a perfect world, coaching will result in personal growth and change, eliminating the need for continued coaching in that area.


Consulting focuses on systems and processes and can impact people. In a perfect world, consulting results in improved systems and processes, and the engagement is completed.


Transactional Coaching resembles consulting with defined issues and endpoints. Later on, it may become necessary for the coach to address additional Transactional topics (see Transactional vs Transformational Coaching further below). Consultants often specialize bridging a gap between knowledge and experience. If changes occur for the team (or its circumstance), the consultant may be re-engaged to fill that same gap.


The size of the organization matters. Smaller organizations tend to gravitate towards Generalist Coaches due to the interconnections among people, systems, and processes.

As organizations grow in size, complexity, and role specialization, coaching may similarly become more focused and specialized.

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2.  What type of coach do I need?


Through the 1960’s, many people thought a coach simply worked with athletes, while

mentors informally worked with rising stars in larger organizations. Generally, most people received some guidance only on an as needed basis.


Many changes occurred in the 1960’s and I have NO intention of going into that!


But the tsunami of upheavals that arose in the 1960’s started to lower the barriers to change in a wide range of areas. One of those was the shift of coaching from just physical sports skills to Sports and Performance Psychology (the first best seller may have been, The Inner Game of Tennis, by W. Timothy Gallway, written in 1997).


In larger organizations, trailblazers that took tennis lessons from leading edge coaches using Inner Game techniques, started requesting their coaches to work with them on their mental game at work ... and Executive Coaching was born!


Today, it seems there are coaches for every industry.


In a business environment, how do I choose a coach for myself?

First: Be clear about what you want to accomplish. What are you looking for?

Help Knowledge Guidance Habit Change

Motivation Accountability Inspiration Direction

Skill Development Something else

With the right coach, you will gain immense clarity about what you really need to focus on during your discussions together — but you now have a starting point.


Second: Recognize that unless you’ve worked successfully with a coach in the past, or completed A LOT of self-improvement work, most likely you waited until there was a

noticeable issue that prompted hiring a coach.


A painful, but true, analogy: It’s comparable to postponing seeing a medical professional until, “The pain was too much to handle, home remedies and advice from friends stopped working...” In that situation (as is true with your health), it will take more time, effort, resources, (maybe additional pain as well) to reach your ultimate goals.


Third: How big or complex is the organization and its issues? The bigger they are, the more likely you will want a specialist versus a generalist coach.


Considerations while you decide:

Do I want to work on something purely personal? If so, Life Coaches and some specialized coaches are a good choice.


Examples include: Relationship skills with loved ones, habit change (e.g., smoking cessation), public speaking, dating… and the list goes on.


Second: Is it something connected with my career success?


Executive, Leadership, and Career Coaches are good choices. They tend to be generalists, particularly in larger, more complicated organizations. They may also have a narrower focus (such as career coaches).


The common element? The coaches are focused on an individual career performance.


Both approaches lend themselves to two areas... fixing issues that have been ignored for too long OR gaining improved performance over what someone has already achieved.


Third: Is it something connected with the success or performance of my business or team?

> In this case, complexity and ownership status matter.

> Do I own some or all of the business?

> Is it related to team issues?

> Are we experiencing multiple system or process problems?

> Is it the small business as a whole?

... it’s probably a business coaching environment. If you're interested in an independent description of what that means, you can read Indeed's explanation of What Business Coaches Do.


Changes in one part of the business, or with a single individual, can impact the whole company. It demands the Generalist approach of a Business Coach for those reasons.


Fourth: Do I already possess the knowledge and skills to impact the problem?


If the answer is NO, it once again points to the generalist's skills and knowledge of a Business Coach, particularly if the coach is using PROVEN knowledgebases and skill systems. These situations go beyond pure coaching skills (drawing out of the client the already existing knowledge and skills) along with need.


            Knowledge Transfer (Teaching)


            Skill Transfer and Development (Coaching)


Beyond the mentoring, work on improving the individual’s thought processes and habits that often are associated with coaching.

3.  What kind of coaching program do I need?


Self-Directed: ‘Do It Yourself ’ Coaching: Comes with some, but minimal guidance; reading, podcasts, videos, and public events. It is usually the smallest financial investment. The time requirements and pacing are completely in the control of the client.


Peer Group: “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, go with others.” You’ve probably heard the above phrase before. This is Do It Yourself with an interested group of members. They engage in mutual problem solving, education, and accountability. There can also be a social element to peer groups that members find to be valuable (sometimes business ownership and leadership can be lonely gigs!).


This is a variation of the Mastermind Group initially discussed in depth by Napoleon Hill in, Think and Grow Rich, first published in 1937. The time requirements and pacing are determined by the members of the group. The financial investment is often small but can be significant based on the makeup of the group and their desires around meeting location and travel requirements, speaker engagement (if desired), and other factors.


Group Coaching: A peer coaching environment with professional coaching guidance. Input from the professional coach can vary from indirect and informal to very active, direct, and structured. The size and make-up of the group, time requirements, and meeting frequency, can vary significantly. The financial commitment is driven by those factors and the quality of the professional coaching services supporting the group.


One-to-One Coaching: What comes to mind when people hear about coaching that is not related to sports: This type of coaching is tailored to the individual, is focused, and offers a strong element of accountability. It becomes much faster to achieve desired results when people want that level of coaching (be aware that kind of expectation must be balanced by the number and the complexity of issues that are often ‘nested’ in layers).

One-to-One Coaching is highly demanding and uncomfortable. The coach is responsible for timing, pacing, and holding the client accountable for activity-driven results. It demands and creates close personal working relationships between the Coach and the Client. The skill and experience levels required of the coach to successfully deliver this kind of program are significant. These factors require a higher level of financial investment versus the earlier mentioned program types.


Team Coaching: Coaching with multiple members of the same organization. This may involve using multiple coaches. It also may include a mix of One-to-One, Group, and Peer Coaching. The financial investment is usually driven by the number of participants and the blend of coaching programs delivered.

4. What is meant by Transactional vs Transformational business coaching?

Most business coaching starts as Transactional Coaching. A client identifies a gap or issue they want to address. Sometimes there could be more than one issue that may be interrelated or nested. They engage with a coach or program, and within a reasonable amount of time close the gap, resolve the issue, and move on. There is growth for the client or their team.

5.  What is the difference between a Contract and Agreement in a Coaching Program?


Some coaching programs are built around legally enforceable contracts. The client is responsible for the total investment in the program. Often, there is considerable transfer of intellectual property/processes in these programs, with an expectation of completion within a defined time frame.


At the other end of the continuum, there are programs that offer a “pay as you go” investment on a session-by-session basis for your program. There may be no paperwork involved, just a credit card transaction.


Between the two extremes are programs that outline a set of mutual expectations, with language outlining how to close out the coaching engagement without incurring a penalty. Generally, the larger and more complex the organization, linked to how specialized and specific the coaching requirements and expectations are, will more likely require a legally enforceable contract.

What does this mean for you?


First: Unlike a lawyer or physician, your coach DOES NOT have privilege in court proceedings against you. They CAN be required to testify against you. This is ONLY a problem if you are engaging in criminal activities or other court related issues.


Second: Your coach is not held to an enforceable Standard of Ethical Behavior by a professional organization or a law. That doesn’t mean they won't behave in an ethical manner. It does mean that they have no formal higher authority.


If your coach has completed training and licensing in another profession that includes formal Ethical Standards of Behavior or in a profession with legal oversight, you may have a somewhat different expectation of them — but only if your association was in an area connected to their licensing. An example would be if a coach is a licensed therapist and providing you therapy in connection with coaching -- this applies for the work conducted that relates to therapy.


Most coaches consider themselves to be in a profession, and endeavor to conduct themselves accordingly. There are numerous organizations that provide training and certification for coaches. There are no certification or licensing requirements to become a coach and open a business. This is different from your lawyer, accountant, physician, dentist, etc.


With regard to these first points, if anyone suggests otherwise, they either don’t understand it themselves or they aren't worth listening to by you!


Third: Because there is no formal certification process required, training, knowledge, skills, etc., may and will VARY SIGNIFICANTLY among coaches. Ensure that the coach has attended and completed SOME type of training relevant to your needs. At a minimum, this is for knowledge and skills.

Affiliation with a larger organization matters! A larger organization provides (usually) some structure, knowledge, skills, platform, and support. In the absence of that, you are depending primarily on the training and experience of one person.

Closely vet the coach you are considering.

6.  Do I engage a Generalist or a Specialist as a coach?


In order to make a decision, there are some questions for you to answer: How many interlinked issues do you have to handle? How large is your organization?


If you work in a large company, is your role one of a Generalist or a Specialist? By definition, the owner of a small business with a dozen or more team members is usually considered a Generalist, and probably needs a Generalist coach. In contrast, a sales manager for a company of 500+  employees is a Specialist, and probably needs a Specialist Coach (unless they desire moving into a Generalist position during their career).


Across a range of issues, an engagement with a Generalist will probably be an extended one. If you are just working on a single issue, an engagement with a Specialist may take up to a year, but often is less.

7.  Is Coaching another name for therapy or counseling?


In general, coaches are not therapists. There are some therapists who will move into coaching.


It is very important that your coach not engage with you in therapy! This is a licensing issue (as well as an ethical one) for the coach to adhere to with you.


So how do I sort this point out?


The rule of thumb is that the role of the coach is to help you set and achieve goals and growth. In a simple phrase, to be Future Focused. It is NOT to diagnose and treat psychological problems that are rooted in your past or current behaviors.


While you may talk A LOT with your coach, and feel better after a session ends, if it’s not Future Focused and in the service of achieving goals and growth, it’s therapy. In that case, your coach should point you towards someone qualified to treat you.

8.  Is there an impact of coaching on the people in your life?


At a minimum, coaching is about facilitating improved performance with a client. It very often results in real change. We would love to think that everyone in our lives would appreciate the changes in us and our behaviors.


Sometimes they do appreciate them. Other times...not so much!


When starting a coaching program, understand that reaching your goals and growing throughout the process will change you. If you do not work to help the people in your life at least understand and accept the changes, or perhaps even change themselves to stay with you, drifting apart is likely.

9.  Training, Coaching, Mentoring...what’s the difference?


Here is the easiest way to explain it:

Training is a one-time transfer of knowledge.


Coaching is skill transfer, development, and reinforcement over time.


Mentoring is a transfer of experience to facilitate growth.

10. How long should it take to complete a program?


It will vary based on a variety of factors. Understanding the issues and what needs to be done to address them, will determine the program length.


Mentoring takes more time than coaching. Coaching takes more time than training. Mentoring is focused on the transfer of experience, and relies on similar experiences happening to the client. Coaching is about skill transfer and is about changing behaviors and habits through learning and reinforcement. Training relates to delivering new information in some format and checking for the effectiveness of the transfer.

Transformation takes more time than Transactional work.


A Generalist working on a range of issues will take more time than a specialist focusing on a single concern.