The Purpose of Coaching

Becoming a coach is a new journey I’m enthusiastic about being on. My destination is still unknown, and that is okay. For many years, I’ve only known coaching from a perspective based on an oversimplified view of the general category of ‘professional development’. I thought managers deployed coaching to deal with ‘problem people’ or correct behavior as a last effort to keep a troubled employee. I believed coaching was a luxury, but now I know it to be essential to unearth and be your best authentic self. Coaching is about developing capabilities.

Coaching aspires to reveal the frameworks that keep people from experiencing the best version of themselves by using the practice of creative inquiry, putting into motion a process to discover, reflect, plan, and act to support one’s evolution. How exciting is that?  

There is much research and writing that defines coaching. Each coach you encounter will have a different and subtle definition of what coaching means to them. What might be universal in coaching is the following:


Purposeful Coaching 

  • Creating space for self-reflection and development.
  • Opening the lens of view to one’s actions from other perspectives.
  • Providing leadership, but not leading.

Ineffectual Coaching 

  • Providing expert problem-solving.
  • Endeavoring to correct clinical behavioral problems.
  • Creating open space to assign blame or make judgments.

The desire to evolve and grow is an essential mindset.

What’s important to note about coaching is that it does not serve individuals with fixed belief systems who are not open to other viewpoints or perspectives regarding their self-view. The desire to evolve and grow is an essential mindset.

Coaching varies from other professions, like therapy and counseling, in licensure and levels of confidentiality. Those professions deal with pain or trauma and may cross into areas of medical expertise. Unlike similar disciplines such as consulting, coaching does not include advising clients to act or implement solutions. Mentoring operates opposite to coaching in that it directs mentees and holds their experience alongside their own to teach and instruct as they impart knowledge. Trainers and instructors follow programs designed to be linear, resulting in a goal or outcome specified by the curriculum.

While seeking a coach, you can still have additional therapy, counseling, or consulting resources. To be our best selves, we must deploy every aid available.

If you ask yourself, “what can a coach do for me?” the right question might be, “what can I do with a coach supporting me?”. Professional coaching is multi-disciplinary and has a framework where clients consider and act upon what they may vision, craft, plan, and create for themselves. The client is the driver in managing personal change, and coaches hold them accountable for all they are and can be.

This blog is one of three in a series on coaching. What does coaching mean to you? Please leave a comment.