This article, written by Certified Professional Life Coach Dale Young, elaborates on our most recent article, “What is Christian Coaching?

In a recent podcast, Christopher McCluskey, President of the Professional Christian Coaching Institute (PCCI), discussed the primary distinctions between coaching as defined by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and other forms of people helping. It’s important for coaches at all levels to understand the definition and distinctions of coaching, whether they offer life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, or work in other coaching niches:

Definition of Coaching

Let’s begin with a clear definition of coaching, as explained on the ICF website.

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
  • Encourage client self-discovery
  • Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
  • Hold the client responsible and accountable

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”

Distinctions of Coaching

Chris elaborates on this definition, highlighting the distinctions of coaching:

Coaching, as defined by the International Coach Federation, is a unique and different form of people helping, which is different from what most people are used to. It doesn’t replace any of the other wonderful forms of people helping that we have, such as training, mentoring, preaching, teaching, instructing, guiding, discipling, and consulting. But those are ‘outside-in’ kinds of work: advisory, directive, guiding – somebody has knowledge that they are seeking to impart to someone else, to infuse it into that person’s inner person or team’s collective mindset.

The coach approach advocated by the ICF and the Professional Christian Coaching Institute, is the exact opposite; it works from the “inside-out,” not with answers, not with advice or direction or guidance, as helpful as those might be. Instead the coach comes with questions, drawing wisdom and insight from the collective mindset of the team or from the individual person’s awareness by asking such questions as: What are you seeing? What gaps do you identify? What resources can be brought to bear to draw to closure to this situation?

It’s a complete reversal; it’s an inside-out kind of a way of people helping, versus the more traditional way of outside-in helping.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?