Put simply, coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future. While there are many different models of coaching, here we are not considering the ‘coach as expert’ but, instead, the coach as a facilitator of learning. There is a huge difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn. In coaching, fundamentally, the coach is helping the individual to improve their own performance: in other words, helping them to learn.
Although teaching, coaching, mentoring and counselling all share some key characteristics and skills, they are nonetheless quite different and it’s important to be aware of the differences. The coach is not a subject expert, but rather is focused on helping the individual to unlock their own potential. The focus is very much on the individual and what is inside their head. A coach is not necessarily a designated individual: anyone can take a coaching approach with others, whether peers, subordinates or superiors.