If I had been asked six months ago what coaching is, I would have given an answer describing mentoring and would have been certain I was correct. I might even have used the word mentor to explain it.
If I had been asked three months ago, after two months of being an intern consultant at H.C Bonum, I would have had a more informed answer because of the experience I have had working with experienced coaches which has given me a better understanding of what coaching is. I would certainly not have used the word mentor! Understandably, many clients seeking out coaching services come expecting mentoring rather than coaching.
If I am asked today what coaching is, I would give a far more enlightened answer because of the deeper insights I have gained working as coordinator for H.C. Bonum’s Coaching Practice and seeing first-hand why people and organizations seek out coaching and how impactful coaching can be to professional and personal success, through testimonials of people who have been coached and through my personal experience of being coached.
One major lesson I have learnt from being coached is that coaching is led by the client and not the coach. The first time I spoke with my coach, I was waiting for him to lead the session, but my coach explained to me that the sessions were to be led by me, the client. That was a huge shock because I went into the session expecting to be taught. Rather, I was guided and encouraged to seek my full potential. I was made to understand that a lot of the answers I was looking for I already had and I simply needed an experienced coach to guide me to realize them.
Coaching is very often confused with mentoring and it is easy to understand why. To several people, especially those who are not coaches or have never been coached, coaching and mentoring might seem like the same thing because they are both one on one conversations that support personal and professional development. They are not. Like I said, coaching is more client led, with the coach asking probing and reflective questions to guide the client in discovering the answers or solutions to their needs for themselves.
It is important for more people to understand how coaching is different from other forms of development to enable them to make the appropriate choice when evaluating alternative approaches for their growth and development. I believe coaches can help create greater awareness about the objectives, process, and benefits of coaching by doing more of the following:
o Publishing articles sensitizing people about coaching and especially the differences between coaching, mentoring and other forms of people development. o Encouraging coaches to talk to more people about coaching whenever they have the opportunity. o Encouraging clients who have had the unique experience of being coached, to talk to others and share their experiences. Coaching is something I would recommend to any individual especially professionals looking to grow themselves and discover or rediscover their genius.
Olusegun Oni Junior Consultant H.C. Bonum