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Coaching for Success

Coaching for Success

“Any instruction that lasts longer than ten seconds is coaching”

That’s the view held by the highly successful Mars Corporation and that’s the view that successful organizations of the future are likely to be adopting if they are serious about coaching.

Coaching is for everyone

Coaching is not a specialist occupation reserved for the very few, but a basic way of operating for everyone who is trying to get the best out of their people and get their people to be their best. It is a key skill which helps us to develop people in today’s organizations.

While the idea of coaching is relatively new in organizations, it’s been around for a long time. Think of top sports people like golfers, tennis players and even high jumpers – they all have coaches to help them improve what they do and strive to be the best. Football teams, basketball teams and hockey teams have coaches. There are even coaches in the arts, in things like voice production for singing or drama.

The role of a coach

It doesn’t matter in what field the coach operates, their key role is to help someone improve what they are doing. They do this by giving the person they are coaching feedback about their performance. They also help them plan their development so that they can improve their skills and do the best they can. To be a good coach you don’t have to be an expert in the field, you just need to want to help someone achieve. In sport, many of the best coaches were only ever average performers and top sportspeople often don’t make it as coaches.

Coaching in business

In business, or in any organization, in the same way as sport, coaching is fundamentally concerned with helping people to learn to develop themselves. The process usually involves the individual being coached in identifying areas for improvement and then developing skills or competencies on the job, undertaking informal or formal “training” sessions or even taking on higher education.

Good coaching is therefore not about developing other people, but focusing them on their own development goals and helping them to achieve them.

Coaches need to be able to work at three levels:

  1. Working closely with people “one on one,” giving feedback, setting goals and tasks which will “stretch” them and supporting them through difficulties.
  2. Setting up a climate or environment which encourages people to take the risk to do things differently and to learn from their experience. This can involve getting people to reflect on their experiences and getting them to draw learning out of those experiences, to find ways of learning from others, to challenge themselves and to find opportunities to learn new things.
  3. Actively setting up learning opportunities for individuals by giving them the chance to work with different people, by linking them to others who can help their development, by providing new and challenging work experiences and by giving them access to people and situations that they would not be able to access easily on their own.

If you are going to be an effective coach at work you will have to be able to do at least a little of all of these things.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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  1. DrexlerMarch 15, 2012 at 5:01 am

    It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  2. John Dell'ArmiJune 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I like the simplicity of the article which dispels a lot of the confusion around what coaching is & explains it concisely and clearly.

    • Jon WarnerJuly 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      Many thanks John.

  3. Jonathan ReitzJuly 15, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    It’s of huge value for a coach to not only be able to work one-on-one for growth, but ALSO to be able to help structure growth opportunities for their clients.

    The key in my coaching practice is understanding where I need to actually TEACH as opposed to help guide a client into a LEARNING opportunity. It’s never, ever about the coach, even though it’s easy to forget that!

    • Jon WarnerJuly 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Yes, the coach is rather than a good umpire or referee in a sports game, the less you notice them, the better the job they are typcvially doing to let the game flow.

  4. David FriesnerDecember 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Excellent piece and very well presented.

    I’ve been fascinated by similarities between different sectors/organisations achieving success for many years and contrasting, for example, business leaders(as coaches) with sports coaches and orchestral conductors etc. It’s no surprise that they have many things in common.

    • Dr. Jon WarnerDecember 16, 2012 at 9:38 pmAuthor

      Thanks for the feedback David.

  5. damianMarch 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Jon, i liked your write up and the clarity about the role of the coach as an enabler, helping others own their development. Have you worked with Mars? Thanks!

    • Dr. Jon WarnerMarch 26, 2013 at 7:27 pmAuthor

      Thanks Damian. I worked indirectly with Mars many years ago as a trainer.

  6. Md. Tabaruk HossainJune 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Great article.

  7. Jessica WahlMarch 14, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for the informative article.

  8. Donny RothbardtMarch 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Jon….Geeze, it appears there are so many things to know about coaching, I sometimes wonder how a simple guy like Vince Lombardi ever achieved his coaching fame without knowing all these things?
    Myself, many years ago I made a vow to simplify my life including my coaching techniques.
    Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years? LOL

  9. AmandaJune 14, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Great article. The company I work for has taken this approach to coaching as well. We are here as leaders to help our team grow and improve. I love your take on it! I have started a new blog, check it out!

  10. kai johnsonNovember 14, 2016 at 9:17 am

    coach is realy important in any field,thanks for this great article.

About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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