Original Piece by Linda McLoughlin, MCC, Global board member of ICF Professional Coaches
Covid-19 is reshaping the world as we know it so it’s no surprise that many people are struggling with the emotional, social or economic consequences of the crisis.
Everyone has been directly or indirectly affected by a pandemic that has changed the way we live our lives, interact with other people and engage with the wider world. It can be easy to focus on your immediate situation during uncertain times but this type of upheaval can also be a catalyst for positive change in your own life.
It can be an opportunity to reassess all of your assumptions and find new ways to navigate a changed and changing world. One option that can help you to negotiate the current crisis, develop your resilience and plot out your future path is professional coaching.
So how can working with a professional coach help you?
What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has 41,000 members located in 147 countries around the world and has a worldwide network of credentialed coaches across a range of coaching disciplines.
It defines coaching as “partnering in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the clients to maximise their professional and personal potential”.
Oprah Winfrey has previously described coaching as a way to “stop the crazy mind chatter in your head that tells you all the time that you’re not good enough.”
A professional coach can act as a thought partner, a guiding force and a supporting influence so you can find your way in these difficult times. They can help you to clarify what really matters to you, to establish goals in various aspects of your life and to map out a way to achieve them.
How coaching can provide help in your career
The pandemic has had huge implications for people’s employment and careers, whether you’re looking to progress in your chosen industry, planning a career transition, new to the job market or looking for work.
Professional coaches can provide much-needed direction at times like these and offer you a professional, empathetic and confidential service when you need it most. You may be struggling to manage your team in a remote setting, facing a situation where you’ve lost your job, or finding your new reality overwhelming in a frontline occupation.
That’s where establishing a collaborative relationship with a professional coach can help. They can also direct you to other supports, if needed, and provide referrals.
The pandemic has ushered in a work-from-home revolution, causing sweeping changes to the way we interact with colleagues, clients or customers. Negotiating this shifting professional landscape can be tricky but a coach can help individuals or teams to adapt to these organisational changes and find a path to success.
Organisations that invest in coaching to support and develop their workforce can also reap the financial benefits, as ICF’s CEO Magda Mook explains.
“Our 2018 research Building a Coaching Culture for Change Management, led in partnership with the Human Capital Institute, tells us that among organisations with a strong coaching culture, approximately three in five are also classified as high-performing organisations,” Magda says. “Coaching is one of the most helpful activities for achieving the goals for large scale, change management initiatives.”
In Ireland, the likes of LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Failte Ireland and the Gardai have all utilised coaching.
How to find the right coach for you
People can engage with a coach for a number of reasons and the ICF has reported an increased demand for its services in the pandemic. Whether your goal is personal growth or professional development, finding the ideal coach to address your specific needs is key.
“Choosing the right coach for you is really important,” says Linda McLoughlin MCC, master coach and ICF global board director.
“No matter if you look for a life coach, a career coach, a team coach or an organizational coach, we recommend you check on their training and credentials. It is important to choose a coach with the right niche and experience to match your needs. Do not hesitate to request client references or testimonials and make sure to discuss fee, terms, confidentiality, cancellation policies right up front and last but not least, require a coaching agreement.”
However, Linda points out that a professional coach will not do the work for you.
“Coaching is very much a partnership and coaches are not magicians that offer a silver bullet to fix their clients’ challenges. Both partners must pull their weight and the client takes their part of the responsibility for personal growth.”
A coach can provide you with a fresh perspective, collaboratively work with you to define your goals, establish a framework for success, and ultimately help you to achieve your objectives. You just need to make that first step.
How the ICF can help
In 2020, the ICF celebrates 25 years as the global non-for-profit organization for coaches and coaching.
ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches across a variety of coaching disciplines. Its members work toward the common goal of enhancing awareness of coaching, upholding the integrity of the profession, and continually educating themselves with the newest research and practices.