Part 1: Definitions of Effective Coaching, Origins of Coaching, Applications of Coaching: Business and Executive, Career and Co-Coaching

Licenses: Creative Common

Definitions of Coaching

Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance (Passmore, 2016/2006).

The learner is sometimes called a coachee or trainee.

Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development (Passmore, 2016; Renton, 2009; Chakravarthy, 2011).

Origins of Coaching

The first use of the term “coach” in connection with an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who “carried” a student through an exam (, n.d.).

The word “coaching” thus identified a process used to transport people from where they are to where they want to be.

The first use of the term in relation to sports came in 1861 (, n.d.).

Historically the development of coaching has been influenced by many fields of activity, including adult education, the Human Potential Movement, large group awareness training (LGAT) groups such as “est”, leadership studies, personal development and psychology (Cox et al., 2014; Wildflower, 2013).

Applications of Coaching

Professional coaching uses a range of communication skills (such as targeted restatements, listening, questioning, clarifying etc.) to help clients shift their perspectives and thereby discover different approaches to achieve their goals (Cox, 2013).

These skills can be used in almost all types of coaching.

In this sense, coaching is a form of “meta-profession” that can apply to supporting clients in any human endeavor, ranging from their concerns in health, personal, professional, sport, social, family, political, spiritual dimensions, etc.

There may be some overlap between certain types of coaching activities (Cox, Bachkirova and Clutterbuck, 2014).

Coaching approaches are also influenced by cultural differences (Rosinski, 2003).

Business and Executive Coaching

Business coaching is a type of human resource development for business leaders.

It provides positive support, feedback and advice on an individual or group basis to improve personal effectiveness in the business setting, many a time focusing on behavioural changes through psychometrics or 360-degree feedback. Business coaching is also called executive coaching (Stern, 2004), corporate coaching or leadership coaching.

Coaches help their clients advance towards specific professional goals.

These include career transition, interpersonal and professional communication, performance management, organisational effectiveness, managing career and personal changes, developing executive presence, enhancing strategic thinking, dealing effectively with conflict and building an effective team within an organisation.

An industrial organisational psychologist is one example of an executive coach. Business coaching is not restricted to external experts or providers.

Many organisations expect their senior leaders and middle managers to coach their team members to reach higher levels of performance, increased job satisfaction, personal growth and career development.

Research studies suggest that executive coaching has a positive impact on workplace performance with some differences in the impact of internal and external coaches (Jones et al., 2016).

In some countries, there is no certification or licensing required to be a business or executive coach, and membership of a coaching organisation is optional.

Further, standards and methods of training coaches can vary widely between coaching organisations.

Many business coaches refer to themselves as consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching (Lorber, 2008).

Career Coaching

Career coaching focuses on work and career and is similar to career counselling.

Career coaching is not to be confused with life coaching, which concentrates on personal development. Another common term for a career coach is career guide.


Co-coaching is a structured practice of coaching between peers with the goal of learning improved coaching techniques.

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