Ask the average individual to explain “personal development” and chances are that they will not mention executive coaching. Instead they will most probably talk about traditional learning interventions such as teaching, lecturing and training courses. This reaction is understandable given that most of us experience these activities almost non-stop from the ages of 5 to 18 and increasingly beyond that to University or College.

These “teaching” environments are usually “expert centric” – the person leading the learning taking centre stage. They determine the learning they want the participants to receive and essentially take on the “heavy lifting” of transferring skills and knowledge to the participants. As a result the individuals are dependent on the “teacher” and invariably look up to them as experts in specific topics or subjects.

Ask the same people to talk about the person who has had the most influence on their career and what they will describe will almost certainly not be a teacher or lecturer. It will invariably be someone who has helped them to overcome problems, expand their thinking and given them the confidence or resilience to meet new challenges. They may not use the term, but what they will in essence be defining is a coach.

These informal, and often unstructured, coaching interventions can have a huge impact on career success. The problem is that they can too often depend on luck – eg finding someone within your own organisation who has the time, inclination and skill to offer quality coaching support. For many the opportunities and benefits of coaching remain beyond reach.

Using an external professional coach has huge advantages – not least the time and skills to provide consistent and independent support. It opens up quality executive coaching to a much wider audience and accelerates both development and performance.

A great coach places the learner at the centre of the relationship – not themselves. They remain slightly detached and objective: helping the individual to interpret the challenges they are facing and then empower them to explore options. However the choices and decisions always remain with the individual. The coach is a facilitator and guide, helping the individual to discover and take action.

Since the Chiumento Coaching Academy was founded in 2004 we have found our assignments have generally fitted into one of five distinct types:-

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