What Does A Coach Do Exactly?

December 19th 2018 in Coaching, Strengths
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

In the fields of personal and organizational development, there are large volumes of content dedicated to being a better manager or leader. We all seem to understand both the function and science of management and leadership because we encounter them on frequently, often on a daily basis. I would say we readily acknowledge the value of both fields because we understand them. 

When it comes to coaching we understand this field as well, but often only in the context of sports. A coach is seen as someone barking orders and calling plays. They’re in charge of the game so we can reach the conclusion a ‘coach’ is just another name for the person in charge. The coach is just the leader or manager of the team. Or so we think.

Any sports or professional development coach will tell you that the art of coaching has nothing to do with giving orders or being in charge. While it functionally may overlap with management and leadership it is it’s own profession altogether. A coach can be a manager and a leader can engage in coaching. So what’s the difference?

Perhaps the best definition comes from Gallup (the creators of the CliftonStrengths assessment and coaching model):

“A coach is a person who invests in and interacts with an individual, partnership, or team for the primary purpose of stimulating, motivating, and facilitating the growth, development, and performance of an individual, partnership, or team.”

So while a Manager focuses on the organizational structure and making sure policies and procedures are followed and a Leader focuses on selling a vision, a Coach is about molding the team and it’s members be the best they can be and by doing that they can achieve whatever goals they need to. Investing in skills and strengths is the bread and butter of the coaching profession. Because while the latest digital tools and carefully-crafted mission statements might look good on paper it’s PERFORMANCE that matters. A sports team with great logos and a fancy stadium is judged by the actions on the field and same holds true for individuals, teams, and organizations. Coaches, including those who are Leaders and Managers, know that getting everyone to execute to their best is how to make an impact. Coaching is all about Performance of the team through its basic constituent parts (the Individual).

At Merrfeld, we break our aims for coaching down into three key points:

  • A coach doesn’t provide answers, they help you find the answers.
  • A coach doesn’t direct you where to go, they guide you to where you need to be.
  • A coach doesn’t tell you what to do, a coach will help you find the courage and strength to do the right thing.

I frequently tell the clients of our career and interview coaching practice that we’re not in the business of quick answers. Each of our clients already knows what they need to know and what they need to do- it’s our task to bring out what needs to shine and empowering them to get to where they want to go.


Feeling confused by your employment search or career path? Contact us at Merrfeld.com to set up a free 15-minute introductory conversion to discuss how you can reach your goals and dreams.

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