Category Archives: ICF

Why Being an Expert Doesn’t Work in Coaching

I am noticing a lot of confusion in the coaching space around what a coach should know and what qualifies them as a coach. Some people have an opinion and some are just being tossed around in the waters, unsure of what to believe. So of course, me being me, I have an opinion…and of course like everything I publish, it is a well researched and thought out opinion. Since I started my first Virtual Assistant business in 2008 I have seen some of my successful colleagues become coaches. I also work in the direct selling industry and have seen great salespeople become coaches. I have watched marketers become marketing coaches and website designers become website coaches and so on. I am a member of the International Coaching Federation so this is the definition I use:

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today‚Äôs uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

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

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.

This being said, just because I have a great understanding of many topics and may even be an expert in some, my clients do not hire me to “teach” them how to do their jobs, solve interpersonal conflicts or reach their goals. My clients hire me to help them use all that incredible knowledge they have in a way that only they can to achieve what they really want. I support my clients through leveraging what they know to accomplish more, together we streamline or prioritize all those thoughts they have swimming around in their heads and put together a step by step action plan they can easily carry out. I am fortunate to have been given the gift of unquenchable curiosity. I love to ask the questions that challenge people to think differently and change course.

Now, if someone feels they need training or mentoring, an expert may be a great choice for them to help gain the knowledge they need to move forward. A coach may be someone they hire to work along side to keep them moving and applying the knowledge they are learning. A coach may also support someone as they decide just what things they need to learn to get what they want.

I hope this article was helpful for anyone trying to decide whether they are looking for a coach, mentor or teacher/trainer. I like to think of coaches as the grease that makes everything the client has learned work together smoothly and therefore provide an easier road to success.