What is Coaching?


Coaching is all about “series of conversation”.

Coach help clients solve their problems by asking series of powerful questions and encourage client to formulate answers. Coach challenge their basic assumption, with a view what more is possible. Coach assume that what people think makes a difference. Coaching is a form of learning, but coach is not a teacher. Coach use various coaching technique like Listening, Observing, Reflecting, asking powerful questions, Emotional Intelligence and Systems thinking. Coach help client to become self-generating and self-correcting.

Coaching is about facilitating positive change by improving thinking, creating awareness by showing blind spots. Coaching is 'showing mirror'.

Little a bit history:

Coaching has roots in Western philosophy (Ex: Socrates), new Age philosophy (Ex; Buddhism), and social science.

Socrates (469 BCE) believed that each person is born with full knowledge of ultimate truth. People must acquire knowledge and wisdom for themselves. He used to engage his students in a process of questioning rather than providing them with answers. He said, “the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.”

Buddha (500 BCE) focused on consciousness and self-awareness, Belief in human potential, Idea of balance and harmony, belief in enlightenment, power of visualization, belief in meditation, pacifism, environmental awareness, Emphasis on self-awareness, balance and belief in human potential. Spiritual coaches offer to identify the client’s life mission and purpose.

Mindfulness is the state of awareness in which we are conscious of our feeling, thoughts, and habits of mind and able to let unhelpful ones go so that they no longer limit us.

Hinduism talks about ‘dharma’(doing what is right), ‘yoga’(discipline), and ‘karma’ (consequence of the choice we make).

Taoism talks about the ‘path’ or ‘the way’.

Confucianism talks about ‘Jen’(benevolence), ‘Yi’(righteousness), ‘Xin’(honesty, trustworthy), and ‘Hsiao’(love).

Different types of Coaching

  • Co-active Coaching
  • Presence based Coaching
  • Mindful Coaching
  • NLP Coaching
  • Life Coach
  • Executive Coaching
  • Agile Coaching

Let us deep dive and learn more about Coaching as described by Laura, Karen, Henry and Phillip in their book ‘Co-Active Coaching’.

Four Cornerstones of Coaching

  • People are naturally resourceful and creative: Clients have the answers or they can find the answers. Coach doesn’t deliver answers; Coach ask questions and invite discovery. In some cases, people have sabotaging voice, and they feel they don’t have the answers. Coach’s job is to be curious, not to be an expert.  People are more satisfied when they come up with their own solutions.
  • Hold Client’s agenda: Client set the agenda, and Coach holds on to the agenda. Coach’s job is to help clients articulate their dream, desire and aspirations, help them clarify their goal and achieve that outcome.
  • Addressing the Client’s Whole life: Client’s don’t live their lives in discrete compartment, everything like health, family, friends, mind, body, heart and spirits all are linked.
  • Dance in the moment. Be fully present.: Every response from a client provides information about where to go next with the coaching.

Three Principles of Coaching

  • Fulfillment: Coaching will progress to a deeper definition of fulfillment. It’s not about having more. A fulfilling life is a valued life. And clients will have their own definitions of what they truly value.
  • Balance: Balance is about making choices, saying yes to some things and no to others.
  • Process: Coach’s job is to notice, point out and be with clients wherever they are in their process. Both Coach and client shouldn’t get drawn into “results” trap.

Five Contexts of Coaching

  • Listening – There are three types of Listening. At Level-I (Internal listening), spot light is on ‘me’, my thoughts, my judgements etc. At level-II (Focused listening), impact of awareness is totally on your clients. You listen for their words, their expressions. At level-III (Global listening), you notice the temperature, the energy level, both literally and figuratively.
  • Intuition - listening below the surface, inspired “knowing”
  • Curiosity - Simply looking, without attachment. open, inviting, spacious, almost playful exploration
  • Forward and Deepen: Product of the work the client and coach do together are ‘Action’ and ‘Learning’. Learning generates new resourcefulness, expanded possibilities, and stronger muscle for change. Fear of failure is number one killer and most of us learn early in life that failure is bad. Failure is one of the fastest way of learning.
  • Self-Management – Daniel Goleman talks about four components of Emotional Intelligence: Self awareness (self-confidence), Self management (self-control), Social awareness (Empathy), and Social Skills (Influence). In order to truly hold client’s agenda, coach must get out of the way. Self-management is the coach’s ability to set aside personal opinion, preference and ego. Even if you want to give some feedback, “ask for permission”.

Coaching relationship

  • Honor Confidentiality
  • Trust in the client’s capacity: Allow the client to find their own solutions
  • Speaking Truth: Have courage to tell the truth, without judgment. Clients count on straightforward and honest communication
  • Openness and spaciousness: There is a place where clients can breathe, experiment, fantasize, and strategize without limitation. Be detached from outcomes.

Getting Started

  • Set up some ground rules.
  • You are here, where is here: This discovery phase focuses on where clients are today and how they got there. Clients and Coach might talk about previous disappointment.
  • Designing future: Here the focus is on having client describe what they want to change or what they want to achieve. What is the desired outcome and goal. In order to achieve the results, they want, Clients very likely will need to change attitudes or underlying beliefs.

Popular Coaching models:

  • GROW model:
    • Goal-What would you like to achieve?
    • Current Reality-What is the current situation?
    • Options-What are the options?
    • Way Foreword- What will you do?
  • CREATE model
    • Current Reality: explore the Current Reality for someone, the reality of their thinking itself. At this point people become aware of their dilemma
    • Explore Alternative: What are the options?
    • Tap their Energy: we can help people take tangible actions to move their insights from delicate new connections to something more likely to become a part of their thinking.
  • SCARF model
    • Status: Importance in relation to others
    • Certainty: Ability to predict future
    • Autonomy: having a choice or sense of control over events.
    • Relatedness: relationship with boss, team members, this determines whether people want to collaborate or share with colleague
    • Fairness: Transparency and clear expectations/ reward from fairness

Coaching Skills

The Mediocre Coach tells, Good Coach Explains, Great Coach Demonstrates and Best Coach Inspires.

  • Articulate: describe what is going on with the client at this moment, helps client connect the dots.
  • Clarifying: combination of listening, asking, reframing…Here is what I’m hearing….”Is that right?”
  • Reframe: fresh perspective, and a sense of renewed possibilities.
  • Meta-view: presents the big picture and opens up room for perspective.
  • Metaphor: enables you to draw on imagery and experience to help the client comprehend faster and more easily.
  • Acknowledge: recognizes the inner character of the person to whom it is addressed.
  • Recover: notice the disconnection, reconnect
  • Blurt it Out: blurting out your intuition can often create a dramatic shortcut in coaching conversation.
  • Intruding: Explain that you’ll sometimes interrupt the conversation in a way that may surprise them, and you ask that they shouldn’t take it personally.
  • Asking Powerful Questions: provocative, open-ended, introspective, expansive questions. Be comfortable with uncomfortable silence.
  • Homework Inquiry: is often posed at the end of the coaching session and is meant to give clients time for continued reflection and exploration.
  • Goal Setting: manageable, specific and measurable actions
  • Brainstorm: generating ideas, possibilities, options, out of the box ideas
  • Request: Request certain actions
  • Challenge: ask client to extend themselves beyond their self-imposed limits
  • Bottom Lining: skills of getting to the point and asking the client to get to the point.
  • Championing: recharge the client’s enthusiasm: “You are so committed to this. I know you can do”.

What is Agile Coaching?

Agile coaching a dual flavor of Coaching and Mentoring. It’s journey of helping an agile team in the context of improving and understanding of their agile discipline. Agile Coach need to understand the essence of Agile Manifesto values, principles and Scrum guide. Agile Coach need to balance in ‘doing the Agile’ and ‘Being the Agile’, doing 20% and Being 80%. Agile Coach is a Servant Leader. Apart from the coaching, Agile Coach need to play various roles such as Mentor, Facilitator, Teacher, Problem Solver, Conflict Navigator, and Collaboration Conductor as the situation demands.

ICF Philosophy of Coaching

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the clients wants to achieve
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client generated solution and strategies
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable

Consulting vs Training vs Mentoring vs Coaching

  • Consultant provide facts, figures and solution for a problem and does a job for you.
  • Trainer provides specialized knowledge and follows a standard curriculum
  • Mentoring is about hand-holding and shows how something is done. Mentor need to be subject matter expert (SME) and relevant experience in that area.
  • In Coaching, Client sets the agenda. Coach ask powerful questions. Client finds his own solution. Coaching supports personal and professional overall growth. Conversation is primary tool.


  • Coaching conversation: Focused, concentrated, courageous, and intentional conversation designed to support the client.
  • Coaching Presence: Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client by employing a style that is open, flexible, and confident.
  • Coaching Alliance: Explicit agreement for coaching relationship
  • Homeostasis: subconscious resistance to change, going back to old habit.

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