When considering a coach, do you ask yourself if you need coaching? Or, if you want coaching?

Last week, I was struck by the language my new coachee used when asked what she wanted to get out of the time together. "I want to understand if I need coaching" she said.

How interesting that coaching had been framed as a need, as if it were making up for some deficiency or solving a problem that had yet to be identified by the coachee herself! My curiosity got the better of me, as it often does, and I asked why she had posed the question in that way?

"Oh!" she replied, "I guess it stems from when my boss suggested I have coaching. I had assumed he had recognised that I wasn’t at my best."

Recognising the host of assumptions present here, I simply asked "then, what would it be like if you asked yourself if you want coaching instead?"

"Well…" she replied, with a puzzled look at first that soon changed to a beaming smile. "Well, then I guess I would welcome it, be open to what it could do for me and not feel as though I am entering into it for someone else."

Having coached in many organisations for the last eight years, I know it is not unusual to have line managers or HR departments seek remidial coaching to sort out ‘under performers’. And of course there is a place for this type of coaching. When the relationship is created between coach, coachee and sponsor, with clear outcomes agreed and confidentiality assured, this can be effective.

However, the real strength of coaching is generative in nature, building on solid performance and supporting personal growth. Entered into willingly, by a coachee that wants coaching, the experience is often transformational and highly enjoyable!

So, how do you frame coaching: is it a need or a want?