Phil Sandahl, CPCC, is an international coach and coaching trainer with The Coaches Training Institute.

Imagine this scenario: One morning you decide that this is the day to leave home. You want to be someplace else. You walk out the front door, go down to the street and, at your front door, you make your first choice: do you go left or right? Actually, it’s your second choice — your first was to decide to leave home. However, you really don’t need a coach to help you decide whether to turn right or left; you could just as easily flip a coin, follow a hunch or ask a passing stranger.

So what’s coaching and why is it becoming part of the mainstream? In its simplest form, coaching has emerged over the last 15 years or so because it assists people in getting where they want to go more efficiently and effectively and, in the process, they learn a new way to “travel.” It’s important to note that nobody needs a coach; not the way one needs food, clothing, shelter or healing from injury or pain. 



Coaching is an additive that:

  • Clarifies direction and destination
  • Unleashes potential and resources
  • Accelerates progress
  • Removes obstacles
  • Builds bridges

Coaching could help you decide where you specifically wanted to get to when you leave home. While “anywhere” may qualify, you’d no doubt have to make quite a few trials before you find the destination that fits. It is a process of imagining, clarifying and choosing. Coaching helps you draw the map and select the mode of transportation. And the “you” could be an individual, a team or an organization.

Let’s take organizations as an example. These days, people in an organization can connect via cell phone and share information just about anywhere in the world, any time of the day or night. Imagine for a moment that we were suddenly transported back to the days of the pony express.

Decision-making could only move as fast as the average palomino over rough terrain. All right the analogy is extreme, but the notion is that coaching creates a context for decision-making in an organization where efficiency is the goal. It promotes clarity while reducing backtracking, second-guessing or wandering aimlessly in dead-end canyons. Coaching individuals within an organization has a similar impact — people can become focused, energized and effective.

The same applies for individuals and teams. Coaching helps people determine their destination and gives them an incentive to stay on course to get there. In today’s business world, organizations need every advantage they can find to be more adept, more agile, more focused in order to achieve the results they need to survive and thrive. For individuals, the desire may be to live life more fully by their own unique definition. It might be a more satisfying career, material well-being, stronger relationships — the goals may vary, but the underlying process is essentially the same. Coaching helps leverage time, talent and resources to make the most of this day, this opportunity, this life.

The process of coaching involves an ongoing relationship where coach and client/coachee are companions and partners assisting the client in the client’s journey. Clients determine the goals; coaches bring the tools of their trade. The tools come in a variety of shapes and sizes, different names and applications, but in one way or another the appropriate application can help people find and stay the course.

What makes coaching unique is the nature of the conversation between coach and client. In most other professional relationships there is power or authority given to the provider. Coaching facilitates a peer relationship where both client and coach can give 100 percent to the work for the sake of the client, while being equal in power and authority and working together to get the client to the desired destination. At its best, this approach changes the nature of the conversation: coach and client create a new form of open, engaged, truth telling. The result is empowering and authentic.

Coaching works. A decade or more of evidence supports that. It works because individuals, teams and organizations are able clarify choices, become aware when they are off track, and move forward effectively. It works because coaching creates empowered relationships and the ability to improve connections and achieve potential.

Coaching is an energetic profession that seems to release energy in others as a by product of the work. These days, coaches are helping clients draw extraordinary maps and build the bridges necessary to make their vision come alive. Nice work if you can get it