Key Coaching Concepts

Key Coaching Concepts

“Developing a coaching culture”

You have likely heard it said at work, but what does it actually mean??? 

Firstly, here’s a question: what connects every single sport and athletes, musicians, drama and pretty much every other performance based environment you can cast your mind to?


As an ex-sportsman, I am aware of my slight bias in being around coaches, and not just one – around 4-5 and in many areas of performance; aspects such as conditioning, skills, tactical and technical aspects of play. I can see first hand what it can provide to an individual, team and organisation, but more importantly what are the strengths and potential pitfalls of forcing a “culture of coaching” without truly knowing what it entails, and why.

To backtrack slightly, it wasn’t until studying the science of coaching on both short development courses and on a masters program that I realised about the science of coaching. The key points I would like to explore are around the foundations of coaching.

 It is a well known saying that the best players don’t always make the best coaches (there was a slightly brutal phrase that some were ‘buses,’ not coaches!!). This is also true in a working capacity, but replace the word player with Leaders. Just because someone may be a director, FD or CEO doesn’t mean they will be a good coach. Someone who individually is very driven, having perceived ‘success’, and are experienced in their field doesn’t mean they will be able to encourage this in others.

Semantically, the origination of the term ‘Coaching’ started in the latter part of the 1800’s and this term has been mostly associated with the sports profession through its varied forms (namely golf and tennis thanks to Timothy Gallway). The aligns with sport being the first thought many have when we think about coaching, Sir John Witmore extrapolated many facets of coaching into executive coaching and created a now common framework which uses the acronym GROW (this definition varies but for reference; Goals, Reality, Obstacles, Will).

 This framework is the basis of most ‘coaching conversations’ and is vital as it provides a flow of a session. Good Coaches have a constant understanding of the direction of conversation – knowing when to pursue with a good question (which we will come on to), and when to listen (another wonderful skill to learn about also!).

 The aspect of the coach and coachee connection that will gauge the status of the conversation will often depend on the level of ‘direction’ created by the coach.  There is a sliding scale of direction. On one side of the scale there is non-directive coaching, seen through a very listening based coach; inclusive of open questions, questioning meaning and deepening understanding. The other side of the scale is (perhaps obviously) directive coaching; much more about giving instruction, with less emphasis on the coachee’s opinions and thoughts (think Boot Camp and a military style!).

The aspect of coaching that comes with experience and exploration is where to be on the sliding scale of direction, hence why if this isn’t understood then it can have a negative effect on the individuals, and on workplace wellbeing.

Workathlete is a performance consultancy that coaches and inspires workers around lifestyle, performance and wellbeing. Get i touch if this is something that resonates.