In my now “ancient” Webster’s New World Dictionary, “coach” is first defined as a covered, four-wheeled carriage. Alternate definitions that appear are as a tutor or someone who tells a baseball player what to do. Most of us had our first understanding of what a coach is or does through athletics. The coach was the person who told you how to play the game and helped you understand your role.
Our understanding of coaching and what a coach does has not changed much in this respect, but the introduction of athletic coaching principles to the business world has grown and morphed coaching into its own discipline. We look to business coaches to help us in our careers and “life coaches” to help us with all aspects of our personal lives.
Today’s dictionaries still list the definition of “coach” as a carriage or bus, but now the meaning of coach has expanded to “someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject.” It makes sense that those of us in training should also consider ourselves coaches.
In today’s world, coaching is usually thought of as a separate activity outside the normal training course. In this sense, coaching is an extension of training where students have learned the basics and now need tutoring to gain expertise in a chosen field. The coach is someone who can help another person be better at something.
When I began my career in real estate, I learned the basics to pass the licensing exam, then attended training classes in the fundamentals of the practice of real estate. I knew what to do, but coaching helped me refine how to practice the profession and helped me discern what was most important to me in my business. Meeting on a regular basis with my coach kept me accountable to myself and my coach. By attending coaching sessions, I gained insights about myself and learned how to be a better real estate agent.
Later on, I sought the help of a coach to help me define and refine the next steps in my career. I wasn’t sure of my direction and I felt that I needed the assistance of someone who was not a colleague or superior. I found my coach by attending a webinar she gave on a topic I was interested in. We connected after the webinar and discussed how she might help me. Again, the training lead to coaching. My coach didn’t just teach me what to do though. She helped me discern my next steps and create a plan to achieve them.
The greatest benefit of coaching in a career or profession is that it helps bring out the best in people so that their expertise can grow and they can be more satisfied in their work. We don’t always have the ability to address individual concerns in the context of a training course. It may not be appropriate to do so. Coaching can provide a way to work one-on-one with someone so that they can meet their goals. They may already know what they need to do, but lack the awareness of how to achieve.
Small group coaching can also be an effective way to reinforce lessons learned and help people achieve. It has the added benefit of the wisdom of the group. Peers can be coaches, too. At the Floyd Wickman Team, we provide small group coaching on a weekly basis through the RSquared Coaching Program. Groups are no larger than eight people and a coach. Participants hold each other accountable and help with concerns and suggestions. The coach guides the conversation and provides insights that can help participants put their knowledge into practice. Coaching is how I extend the classroom into daily practice.
A good coach doesn’t give a person the answers to their problems by imparting more knowledge. People know what to do. Coaches help them uncover the impediments to reaching their goals.