COACHING - beyond the buzzword

There is no doubt - coaching is the new buzzword. Hardly any trainer or consultant who does not have "Coach" printed on his business card. A flood of coaching schools and certification courses have appeared out of nowhere and I receive inquiries for "one-day coachings to provide information, tipps and background knowledge." This makes me wonder whether clients and providers really understand what coaching is all about.

If the objective of an intervention is transfer of knowledge, giving advice or background information, the client needs training or consulting, not coaching. In those areas, the client has the question, the trainer has the answer. COACHING IS DIFFERENT. In coaching, the coach has the questions, the coachee has the answers. It is all about the client's very own agenda and the coach supports the client to achieve his or her own objectives. A good coach does not teach or preach. A good coach listens and asks questions and believes that the coachee has the answer in himself.

So how do you find out whether a coach is really coaching or merely training/consulting?

  1. Check the qualification! Although there may be brilliant coaches without certification, if a person has undergone a thorough programme, preferably accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), you can be sure that they understand the concept of coaching, the special relationship between coach and coachee and the tools that are effective to support the client.
  2. Check whether the service provider understands the difference between training and coaching! If a coach claims to give you "lots of information" or tells you what to do, he is not a coach. It is critical to understand the different roles of trainer, consultant and coach. Let them explain it to you.
  3. Ask for a coaching agreement! A professional coach should be very transparent and explain the key principles behind coaching. Members of the International Coach Federation adhere to a strict code of ethics - confidentiality, trust, transparency and an understanding that the coachee sets the agenda.
  4. Ask for a trial session! The relationship between coach and coachee is based on trust, respect and the right chemistry. In a trial session, you can get a glimpse of how your coach works and you can check whether you feel comfortable in this coaching relationship. If you don't feel right, look for another coach. A coach should never be assigned to you by your company.

If you have questions about the coaching process, give me a call at +49.741.2800713 or send an email to

Your Expat Coach
Heike Stengel
Certified Professional Coach
Member of the International Coach Federation