The purpose of coaching

How is coaching defined?

Coaching is an approach that allows for exploration, reflection and support for a coachee, which allows them to achieve a specific goal in many areas of their life.  Furthermore coaching draws upon influences and overlaps with a wide variety or related fields and disciplines, which range from sports coaching, sociology, psychology, management to leadership.  

It has many definitions with slightly different focuses but essentially ‘coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them’. Furthermore, coaching is solution focused, which produces insights and goal oriented actions that are facilitated by a coach, rather than self-focused reflections of a coachee.

Facilitative approach to coaching

Timothy Gallwey first developed the facilitative approach to coaching in tennis. Gallwey classified people into Self 1, which is rational, controlling, judging and Self 2, which is spontaneous, present and instinctive. By its nature a Self 2 personality can without difficulty learn and attain peak performance; instead a Self 1 personality normally interferes with learning objectives, causing the person to tense up by trying too hard and judging their own performance instead of focusing on the ball.   

The coaching process principally involves the coach asking questions, reflecting back the words of the coachee in an unbiased manner, making requests and challenging the coachee within a safe confidential space for them to be held accountable and to find answers from within themselves


Discussions with the coach also help the coachee to articulate their own goals and develop action plans to achieve those goals in any areas of their life. The coaching space provides a context for the coachees to develop the ability to think about their life in a structured manner. The coach does not prescribe any specific action or give advice. Instead the coachee takes action and is solely responsible for the outcome of the coaching process. Furthermore the ongoing aspect of coaching sessions utilises the power of accountability as the glue for the desired actions to come together and for the goals to stick.  A coach monitors the progress towards implementation of a coachee’s action plans and together they shape and modify the plan to befit the coachee’s personal needs. 

Types of coaching

Coaching exists in many forms from executive coaching, life coaching, relationship coaching to career coaching.  Ultimately the purpose of coaching is for the coach to help a coachee to reach their full potential by facilitating the exploration of their: motivations, goals, needs, skills and their thought processes to assist the coachee to make sustainable changes. 

The purpose of coaching is to bring out the coachee’s potential instead of teaching them how to do something and it enables them to make change and transform their lives.  The coaching process enables the coachee to be developed and it does not impose on them, rather it reflects and does not give direction or advice.  

Coaching as a bridge

Coaching can bridge the gap from where the coachee is to where they want to be by exploring their fears, beliefs and values so that they gradually become aware of how it holds them back.  Most people are unaware that their values determine the decisions they make, which determine the course of their lives. Therefore, the coaching process enables the coachee to discover what is important to them, what they need and how to get there.  Coaching is coachee centred whereas advising has a tendency to be grounded in the beliefs, values and opinions of the advisor.  In contrast the coach’s role, is to help the coachee to arrive at their own solutions. 

Coaching is dynamic and fluid because it permits personal transition on a tailored individual basis, where the coachee chooses and determines their own progression, it does not make any assumptions, is non judgmental, non prescriptive and non instructional. The use of coaching is increasingly being recognised as a modern approach for success in the areas of personal life, work and within organisations as a whole, because it brings out the features of quality, integrity, compassion and facilitative learning.  

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