What is Coaching? And what’s the difference between life, leadership, and executive coaching?

Home / Behavior Change / What is Coaching? And what’s the difference between life, leadership, and executive coaching?

When I tell people I’m a life and leadership coach, they often ask, “So what exactly is coaching?”  Well, it depends.  There is no one, standard answer.  Some coaching focuses on a particular aspect of life, such as finances, physical fitness, or nutrition, and a whole lot of different coaching approaches are packed into similar-sounding words like “executive,” “life,” and “leadership” coaching.  So I can’t provide a universal answer to the question.

But if there is something in your life you want to improve or change and you think third-party assistance would be helpful, coaching might be for you.  Coaching can also be useful if you want to talk through work and life situations – consider alternatives and different perspectives – with someone who is non-involved or “disinterested.”  (Family, friends, and colleagues are wonderful, but they may have a long history with you or be affected by your decisions, which makes it impossible for them to provide you unbiased assistance.   Most also lack coaching skills and expertise.)  The key is that you have to be ready to take action and do things differently, including trying things that may initially feel uncomfortable or even slightly terrifying.  The focus of coaching is doing, not talking.

So, what is Insights and Inspiration coaching?

My coaching focuses on helping you live your values and priorities.  The basic process involves identifying a challenge or area for improvement, getting clear on what the ideal situation would be for you, agreeing on the next steps to take you from where you are towards where you want to be, and then holding you accountable for doing (or not doing) the things you’ve committed to.

More concretely, that means I help you understand what you mean when you say X is a value or priority—What does it look like in action?  For example, what does “career success” mean for you?  Is it making a lot of money and being famous in your field?  Does it mean being a lead “doer” not a manager?  Maybe being a mentor and champion of others is your current priority.  Perhaps being passionate about your work and making a positive difference in the world are most important and getting paid well is a secondary or tertiary consideration.  Or maybe career success means you like work well enough, get paid well enough, and more importantly, have a lot of time and energy for non-work priorities, like your family or rock-climbing.

Once you’re clear on what X really means to you and looks like, then we work on aligning your daily life with your aspirations to the highest degree possible. Some things I can help you do:

  1. Gain clarity, create a plan, and commit to next steps
  2. Manage your time and energy in line with your priorities
  3. Stop procrastinating and do something you’ve been avoiding
  4. Navigate change and uncertainty
  5. Develop or improve specific skills
  6. Reduce stress and negativity; increase joy and positivity

Sound like something that might be useful?  Time to do some investigating and research.  (Remember, coaching is about doing!)

I suggest you first get as clear as you can on what issues you want to address and the type of assistance that works for you.  (E.g., some of my friends love physical trainers who “yell at” and “taunt” them.  I prefer trainers who are positive and inspiring.  “Is that all you’ve got?!” makes me defiant, while “Yes you can!” pushes me to give more.)  Then talk with three or four potential coaches.  These discussions can help you further clarify your focus and the approach/processes that are most attractive to you.  Once you find a coach whom you either click with or who challenges you in a good way, it’s time to begin the work and stick with it for at least three months!

(If you think I might be a good fit for you or someone you know, let’s set a time for a complimentary initial consultation.)


Thanks to MPMPix for the photo.

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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