Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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Exploring career mentoring and coaching

1.2 Defining coaching

As coaching has become such a dominant theme in recent years, there are numerous definitions to choose from:

  1. ‘Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.’ (Whitmore, 2017).
  2. ‘Coaching is a human development process that involves structured, focused interaction and the use of appropriate strategies, tools and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders.’ (Cox, Bachkirova and Clutterbuck, 2014, p. 1).
  3. ‘The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.’ (Downey, 2003, p. 21).
  4. Christian van Nieuwerburgh (2017, p. 5) reviews a range of definitions, and concludes that coaching:
    • a.is a managed conversation that takes place between two people
    • b.aims to support sustainable change to behaviours or ways of thinking
    • c.focuses on learning and development.

As he goes on to discuss the context of coaching, van Nieuwerburgh (2017, p. 14) lists six different areas in which coaching is currently flourishing. You may have come across some of them:

  1. Executive coaching – working in organisations with middle and senior leaders, often addressing specific skills-based issues.
  2. Life coaching – working with individuals on topics relating to their personal lives.
  3. Health coaching – working with patients and health professionals.
  4. Coaching in education – working with students, educators and parents.
  5. Career coaching – working with professionals on their career development.
  6. Leadership coaching – working with leaders in any profession or field.

Throughout this course, you’ll be focusing mainly on career coaching, although executive and leadership coaching also relate directly to the workplace.


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