Being a Coach versus Using Coaching Tools


Being a coach is not a title, like a doctor – “Coach” is not a protected title so anybody can call themselves a coach. I have been working as a coach. I have had clients being coached. I have been a leader using coaching tools. I have had one weekend of professional coaching training. I realize that the coach concept might be confusing, and I will try clarifying the difference between being a leader using these tools and being a coach.

A Coach

This is a person that works professionally as a coach working with clients. The goal of the coach is to help you reach further, find your strengths and even get you to explore the depths of yourself.

Coaching Tools

This is a set of techniques a coach would use. Leaders, managers, parents, people might also use some of these techniques. You might even use them unconsciously while talking to friends.

The Trust

A major important factor in coaching is the trust between the coach and the client. You should be confident that the coach has your best interest in sight and that whatever you discuss is treated in uttermost confidentiality. And here is where a leader using coaching techniques and a coach might differ.

The settings

If you have a coach at work, being on the same payroll as you, the coach might have the interests of the company in sight. Nothing wrong with wanting you to become good at what you do, but they might want you to be good at something the company will benefit from. I am not saying that this is wrong, but it is important to know the difference. The results for the company might have an influence on this setting, depending on the level of professionalism from the coach.

A hired coach, hired by the company you work for can also be hired to improve a situation within the company. But they are often very professional about it and will explain the difference to you. They might also explain the intention from the company and what will be reported back to management.

An independent coach hired by you. Will focus 100 % on you, and if your dreams differ from the direction of your job they will help you explore your options.

As you see, the two first settings create room for reports. Something will be reported to someone else.

Are you a coach? NO!

Well you might actually be a coach, but with this heading I am saying that you are not a coach just by using coaching tools and coaching techniques as a leader. Coaching tools are great in conversations and they are great as leadership tools. But can you as a leader coach an employee to follow his dreams, quit the company and start up a competitor? So you do not have the best interests of the client while being their leader? You might be a leader with a great toolbox that’s it.

The certified Coach

Some coaches spend a lot of time and money to get certifications as a coach. And some certifications might take years to achieve and thousands of hours with clients. These people are not just “working as coaches” they are coaches in heart and soul.

The uncertified Coach

Someone like me, that have not yet made a living of being a coach – well I have been working for a company as a coach but also as a leader at the same time. But I have not yet made my own salary from coaching, yet I know that I can coach. My experience, personality, clients  and bookshelf say that I can coach. But I cannot state that I am a certified coach. I do not feel that I can charge as much as a certified coach, and I will tell you the difference. Still I will always conduct myself as a professional coach in respect to you and the profession. But there are a lot of people like me, and you should know the difference in order to feel confident about your choice of coach. Not all of them are capable of coaching in a professional way while others are capable of changing your life.

Your boss will never be your coach

Your leader is a leader using coaching tools. They have an agenda, to get you to perform to the best of the company. Your boss wants you to succeed at work, and will not necessary care about your upcoming book project or family trouble. (Depending on the personality of your boss).

I know people that manage to clearly set these roles apart and can be a leader and a coach at the same time. But these few people are very aware of their role, their function and have a clear philosophy around both leadership and coaching. It is only natural to mix these roles together.

Let me give you an advice

There is also a difference between a trainer, a coach, a mentor, and an advisor. A coach might share experiences with you, but a really good coach will not give you direct advice. A good coach manages to help you find your own way. “Where do you want to go?” “How are you going to get there?” “When will you do this?” “How will I know that you made it?”

While a mentor or an advisor might say: “You need to go there”, “By doing this”, “Now”, “Follow my lead”

Some coaches combine these two and also act as good mentors and advisors as well. But the clear difference is that the coach will ask for permission to give advice. And it might be a last resort. And it is natural for people to want to give advice. Especially men are eager to fix your problems by nature, just ask any married woman that just wanted their husband to listen. If you have a good coach – you will know when you get a direct advice.

Leaders should use coaching tools

I have great experiences in using coaching tools as a leader. But I will strongly advice any leader to be clear about the difference. Coaching tools might help to clarify issues at work. It might help employees to grow and produce the desired results. As an employee you should also know the difference so you understand what kind of setting you are in.

I hope that this will help you if you feel like getting a coach or using the one at work. Be aware of the intentions of people and their different roles. Still a good leader or a good coach will know the difference and should inform you.

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