What is evidence-based coaching?

Coaching, in a nutshell, is a relationship between a Coach and a Client (Coachee) that focuses on the personal and professional development of the latter, in order to achieve a predefined and agreed goal.

Some business coaching goal examples can be improving performance and leadership at work, strengthening personal and professional relationships, identifying blind spots and growth areas, breaking old habits and patterns that don’t serve you, working on limiting beliefs and so on.

When choosing a Coach, it’s important to look for their knowledge, skills and qualifications. A self-ordained life coach, one with no relevant experience or certifications is unlikely to help you achieve your desired outcomes, while a professionally credentialed coach has already met high standards for coaching training, experience and ethics.

An evidence-based coaching approach is grounded in proven science, much like clinical psychology or counseling, and draws from empirical research, theoretical knowledge and coaching standards and best practices. 

Anthony M. Grant, founder of the world’s first coaching psychology unit at the University of Sydney, defined evidence-based coaching as a combination of professional wisdom (individual experience and group experience consensus) and empirical evidence (coaching-specific research and coaching-relevant research). By translating research into coaching practice, a coach can provide you with more effective assessments and optimize your desired outcomes.

Evidence-based coaching can be captured and associated with 4 major pillars.

  1. Theory

Our fundamental role as a coach is to help create awareness with our clients. With awareness comes choice and a new mindset that help people realize they are not bound by their thoughts or  limiting beliefs. What distinguishes Evidence-Based Coaching from other types is the Coach’s knowledge of theories, models, and associated tools that underpin our professional work. The Coach usually combines different tools and methods according to what each Client and each goal may require.

  1. Core Competency

Coaching can be interpreted as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. According to ICF Global Board, there are 8 core competencies that professional Coaches must adhere to:

  • Demonstrates Ethical Practice
  • Embodies a Coaching Mindset
  • Establishes and Maintains Agreements
  • Cultivates Trust and Safety
  • Maintains Presence
  • Listens Actively
  • Evokes Awareness
  • Facilitates Client Growth
  1. The Coach

Skillful coaching starts with the coach’s self-awareness and having a deep understanding of one’s own personal identity, strengths, values, character, ethics, weaknesses, biases, and interests.  One powerful way to do this is through personal reflection and feedback.

  1. The Client

Coaching is inherently client-centered. This means the coach’s agenda is always in service of the client’s agenda. For this reason, developing a coaching agreement at the beginning of a coaching session is critical. The coach needs to empower the client to determine the topic and the desired outcomes of coaching. Our clients also have unique contexts and intersections. They are never dealing with just one issue because no one experiences one-issue lives. Coaches must respect the client’s professional and personal settings and explore things from their perspective. This requires coaches to believe what the client says when they say they are struggling, not to question why they have a certain belief, but instead to explore how that belief serves them or blocks them from what they most want.

In summary, Evidence-Based Coaching is critical for skillful coaching and continuous development. Coaches’ growth and ongoing improvement means general quality improvement in the offering of coaching services, plus more Coachees will be better served.

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