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Home » Blog » Revisiting The Basics and Philosophy of Coaching

According to the latest data presented by ICF, there are approximately 71,000 coach practitioners in 2019, which is an increase of 33% from the 2015 estimate. And if you include leaders using coaching skills the number may spike up to 86900. What’s relevant is that all these coaches, from whichever part of the world they belong to have always to come back, and revisit the basics. This is what we bring through this blog. This blog is a transcripted version of the webinar Coaching Matters.

Understanding Coaching With Other Different Forms of Development

How would you understand coaching and how’s it different from other forms of development, like teaching, training, mentoring, counselling, and therapy?

Whether you are an internal coach or an external coach, whether you are a parent, or you are leading an organisation, let’s say you are a business entrepreneur, or you’re a founder or you’re you are a vice president, or in some shape and form, if you are dealing with human beings, you need different strategies to deal with different people. What it means is that all these different tools, be it mentoring, coaching, counselling, therapy, teaching, training, or consulting, all these are different tools in your toolbox. 

What it means is that you cannot use all the tools at the same time. For instance, while you’re travelling from one place to another, let’s suppose your car stops to work, it comes down, and the moment it stops, depending upon the situation in hand, you will pull out that tool from your toolbox. What it also means is that no way I’m saying that coaching is better than training or training is better than therapy or therapy is better than counselling or counselling is better than coaching. All these tools have got different relevance at different spaces and different times, depending upon the situation in hand, you could be a coach, you could be a mentor, you could be a counsellor, you could be a therapist, you could be a teacher, you could be a trainer as well, in different shapes and forms. All these are relevant. 

Once there was a research that was done by ICF, in partnership with PWC. They said that in order to build a practice for yourself you need to have at least three different kinds of development strategies that could help you. And when I’m using the development strategy, what I mean is surviving only on coaching is extremely difficult. And thus, in order to survive as a coach, you may want to collaborate. Or you may want to bring in other couple of other tools as well. It could be training and consulting and coaching. You could be a mentor and a coach. You could be into consulting and coaching. You could be into training and coaching you could bring to coaching and facilitation. 

So even if you’re adding a bit of facilitation, that’s not pure coaching, even if you’re bringing training into the game, It’s not pure coaching. So that’s where we need to understand the complete landscape of development. 

The Push and The Pull Strategy

Every time when you’re dealing with human beings, I’m not interested in whether you’re dealing with entrepreneurs, or whether you are your niche market is all your target audiences, managers or business owners or whatever. You are dealing with human beings. So that means at times they would need to they would need some guidance at times, they would need to be heard at times they would need feedback at times, and they will need questions that you could ask them right. So anytime when you’re talking about the development strategy, there are two different strategies that people one is what we call as the push strategy. The other one is what we call the pull strategy. 

Every time when you’re talking about the push strategy. What you’re doing is you are telling the other person you’re giving feedback, you are guiding the other person and you’re sharing your stories. Is it good, bad, or ugly, there’s nothing called Good, bad, or ugly. That’s how you do.

The pull strategy is when you ask questions, and you listen, very, very simple. So what it means is on left-hand side, when you’re talking about the push strategy, you’re talking about feedback, you’re talking about storytelling, you’re talking about guiding the other person, you’re talking about telling the other person what the other person should be doing or what he or she should not be doing or he would not be doing right. On the right-hand side, when we’re talking about the pull strategy, you are inviting. It’s more of an invitation that you’re offering to the other person, you are listening to the other person really carefully. 

What is Coaching?

How would you define coaching? 

Now coaching is the process of facilitating a positive and progressive shift from where the person is to where he or she would like to be by creating self-awareness that enables self-responsibility.

Let me share with you that in 2012, I got an opportunity to interview Sir John Whitmore. He’s exceptional. We lost him a few years back for sure. But I believe he still is exceptional when it comes to simplifying things. Now before that conversation, never before, not after, I’ve come across a situation as simple as the way Sir John Whitmore defined coaching now just for the benefit of people. So, John Whitmore was a car race driver. A couple came to him and he said, We would like to buy a new car. If you can guide us on which colour should we go for? Sir John Whitmore, as I mentioned being Sir John Whitmore, in his deep baritone voice, got into a conversation with that couple. And at the end of the conversation, the couple ended up buying a red colour car. That’s what he told me. Out of curiosity, I said, Sir John, if you would have recommended a colour to him, which colour would you have recommended? He started laughing as a hahahahaha. Gaurav, I would have recommended any colour but red. I was really intrigued. I said, Are you saying that you would not have recommended a red colour car to them? And they ended up buying a red colour car? How does that come in? How do these two things fit in? He said Gaurav, that’s what the process is, you don’t tell what the other person should be doing or should not be doing? 

Now the question is, can you facilitate a conversation, which is both progressive and positive in nature, from where the person is to where he or she would like to be? By creating self-awareness? When he said that something opened up for me. So coaching, the process of facilitating a positive and progressive shift from where the person is to where he or she would like to be by creating self-awareness. What does self-awareness do is that it said that it enables self-responsibility.

Later in the conversation, I said, Sir John, you know, when you have a master in front of you, surrender, that’s the best thing that I’ve learned in my life. And it’s so profound. When you surrender because you experience as if the universe is speaking to you. Universe wants to communicate to you. And when the universe would want to communicate to you. Why wouldn’t you listen? Why wouldn’t you listen? It’s an opportunity. It’s a grace. It’s a blessing. And I said, John, and remember 2012, I’m talking about I was already a PCC I was the president of ICF. So I was carrying a lot of heaviness and ego on my shoulder. And I said Sir John, how can I become a better coach? I asked this question.

And he said, Learn to observe a small child and the curiosity with which she asked questions. It made so much sense to me. When he said that it stayed with me. You know, let’s try and understand that when I’m talking about what is coaching, and as I mentioned, coaching is the process of facilitating a positive and a progressive shift from where the person is to where he or she would like to be by creating self-awareness that enabled self-responsibility. 

A few words that stayed with me, are, as I mentioned, facilitating a positive and progressive shift. It should be positive and progressive. And the two other words that stayed with me is is self-awareness and self-responsibility. And if somehow, in a conversation if you’re able to, if you’re able to facilitate that, I think the work is done. How can we facilitate a positive and progressive conversation from where the person is to where he or she would like to be by creating self-awareness that enabled self-responsibility? 

Coaching is about using the day-to-day work experience as a learning opportunity via the facilitation of an experienced coach. Remember that, again, facilitation, it aims at addressing real work life, and workplace challenges, it emphasises strengths and empowers other people. It concentrates on the present context of an individual’s work life and personal effect.

Coaching vs Teaching: How Is A Coach Different From A Teacher?

For this let’s take two axis. On the vertical axis, we have ask and tell and on the horizontal axis, we have problems and solutions.

On one axis, we have got ask and tell what it means is whether you are a coach, whether you or a mentor, or teacher or trainer, a therapist, either you are going to ask the question and listen to the other person. So on one hand, you’ve got to ask and listen, on the other hand, we’ve got problems, and we have got solutions. 

So as I’m saying, whether you are a mentor, teacher, trainer, coach, therapist or counsellor, either you want to ask a question, or you’re going to tell and when I’m saying either you ask a question either you will dig deeper into the past of the other person the problems that the person is facing or you will be more holistic in nature, you will be more futuristic in nature, you will move towards a solution and move towards the future. 

So that’s a two-by-two matrix the x-axis is it could be you could be a teacher, a trainer, a coach or mentor, a therapist or a counsellor. And the horizontal axis is primarily when you are dwelling deeper into the other person’s life. So let’s try and understand where would you place a teacher. 

A teacher tells you a concept. A teacher tells you a concept that you’re going to use in the future. A teacher tells you a concept that you can use in the future two plus two is equal to four. Delhi is the capital of India. A teacher tells you a concept that you can use in the future. If you look at whether your history teacher, or geography teacher, he would not dig deeper into your future or your present or your past or teacher is going to tell you a concept that you can use in the future. Right now, as much as a teacher is going to tell you what you can use in the future. What a teacher is to a concept, A trainer is to a skill. A trainer trains you on a skill that you can use in the future.

Coaching vs Therapy: How Is A Coach Different From A Therapist? 

Let’s take one step forward and see, where would you place therapy. Therapy will go on the top left-hand side because a therapist or counsellor will dig deeper into your past so that you could be pleased with your own self, as today, you can accept what is without having a wishful, different past, I should repeat that a therapist says something which will who will dig deeper into your past so that you can let go of whatever wounds you have been holding on so that you can be present in your in this present moment. Without a wishful different past. Let’s accept it, all of us, all of us have been wishing for a different past in our lives. 

Why? Because I personally believe all of us come from dysfunctional families, all of us have been dealing with some or the other trauma or some of the other resentments that we’ve been holding on to if you don’t have a wish that I had a different past. Now that’s where the therapy will come into the game and say, You know what, it’s okay. past is gone, all is over. This is where you are. And if this is where you are you need to accept where you are and who you are, so that you don’t have any desire for a separate different wishful past. 

Coaching vs Consulting: How Is A Coach Different From A Consultant?

Now let’s take one step forward. Now, if you look at Management consultants, who primarily work on systems, they will look into the system, they will look at what’s not working. Now today, if you look at the different kinds of consultants, you will come across, there are consultants, who will only present the reports to you that they had already gone through and have already done the auditing in the organisation, this is not working well. So he’s going to tell you what’s not working in the past, there are consultants who will be more than happy to take you in the future as well by what we call a done for you. So there’s something, there’s a service called done for you, they will actually find out what’s not working, and then they will take you to the next level. 

If you look at the top right-hand side corner, that’s where the highest efficiency is, right? the highest efficiency is where the coaching is. So a coach is going to ask you questions so that you can move from where you are to where you would like to be by creating self-awareness. Now the interesting part is a coach does not tell you what you should or should not be doing. The coach’s responsibility is just to facilitate a conversation with you. 

If you look at the leader, a leader’s role is not particularly in one of the quadrants, the more you expand your influence, the circle will continue to expand. That’s where you need to be a mentor, you need to be a teacher, you need to be a therapist, and you need to be a coach as well. So I’m always saying that a teacher does not do that. It’s and it’s not about having a narrow view of teachers. Absolutely not being a coach and receiving coaching. It’s about you.

About Gaurav Arora

Gaurav has a decade of rich experience in the professional services industry as a Facilitator, Coach and Speaker, with a strong track record of building high-performing leadership teams. As a facilitator, he has been recognized for creating stimulating and interactive learning environments, encouraging participation and individual creativity. As an Executive Coach, he works to dismantle barriers that come up in the workplace for leaders and help them in fulfilling their intent. A storyteller by heart, he leverages various methodologies and technique to put his point across and create the breakthrough.

He founded Inspire Coaching Systems in 2009, now known as xMonks and started a social development initiative “iOwn” in 2016, which is a platform to connect coaches with Social Development Sector to create possibilities and transformation for the change makers and bringing coaching to the grass root level.

Gaurav is an Engineer and a Management Graduate in Marketing. He is a recipient of the “Young HR Professional of the Year 2009-10” by Employer Branding Institute and has been awarded as the 100 top Leadership Coach in 2017. Recently, Gaurav has been honored with the 2019 ICF Young Leader Award. Gaurav is a voracious reader and loves adventure sports. In his free time, he does calligraphy, painting, and reads books.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between coaching and other forms of development such as teaching, therapy, mentoring, and counselling?

Coaching differs from teaching, therapy, mentoring, and counseling as it focuses on helping individuals achieve specific personal and professional goals, while also developing their skills, abilities and overall well-being. Coaching also tends to be more future-focused and solution-oriented, whereas therapy, mentoring, and counseling can focus on past experiences and emotions.

What is the push and pull strategy in coaching?

The push and pull strategy in coaching involves encouraging clients to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones, while also providing support and guidance when needed. This helps clients to achieve their goals by balancing challenge and support.

What is the definition of coaching?

Coaching is defined as a professional relationship between a coach and a client, focused on the client’s personal and professional growth, goal setting and attainment.

How is a coach different from a teacher?

A coach is different from a teacher in that coaching focuses on the individual’s unique needs, goals and personal growth, while teaching involves imparting knowledge and skills to a group of learners.

How is a coach different from a therapist?

A coach is different from a therapist in that coaching focuses on helping individuals achieve specific goals and develop skills, while therapy addresses emotional, psychological or mental health issues through talk therapy or other therapeutic methods.