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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Personal Coaching - Part I

Dear Sue: I’ve heard a lot about personal coaching, and am wondering what working with a coach entails. There seem to be many different types of coaches; business coach, life coach, personal coach, leadership coach, career coach, etc. and it has me confused. What exactly does a professional coach do? - Interested in coaching

Sue Says: I discovered dozens of definitions for coaching. The most concise and encompassing was provided by The Ken Blanchard Companies, which defines coaching as "an intentional process that creates a compelling environment for growth and effective action."

Just like a professional athletic coach, a life or business coach will first help you identify the goals and objectives that are important to you, and then walk you through the process of closing the gap between what you want and what you have.

As in any industry, coaches tend to specialize; some concentrate on career and business, while others focus on the personal foundations of life and health. Kate Larsen, a Minneapolis based business and life coach and president of Winning Lifestyles, has found that most coaching involves some blend of both life and work because people bring all of who they are to work.

Many people flounder during periods of transition, which is a natural springboard for engaging a coach. People hire a coach when they are reevaluating life choices and direction, making a career change, starting a new business or desiring to become better leaders. Working with a trained observer and partner helps people sort through their options and determine the steps to take to move forward in their lives.

Larsen says that coaching works because coaches help clients increase their awareness about their assumptions, beliefs and limiting behaviors. Awareness is a powerful catalyst for change, and a coach enables a person to develop an action plan that is strategic, practical and effective.

Coaching is not therapy; the focus in coaching is about developing people, not fixing them. A coach will help you identify where you are today, and determine what it will take to get where you want to be tomorrow. The increase in focus and greater awareness of choice accelerates the progress people are able to make.

Larsen has found that that the results people have working with a coach are sometimes surprising. The accountability inherent in the coach/client relationship and the sense of freedom people feel to pursue the more significant aspects of life and work is a powerful combination, and can be a life-changing experience.

There are personal coaches and coaches who work in a corporate environment. Depending on the area of expertise, a corporate coach can work with you in a variety of areas including general business skills, performance and communication issues, problem solving, creativity, leadership, team building and cultural issues.

Selecting the right coach to work with shouldn’t be done in haste. Next week’s column will be a continuation of this week, and I will include tips for finding a coach and how to determine if someone is the right coach for you.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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