What is coaching?

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), “Coaching is a thought-provoking and creative partnership that inspires clients to maximize their personal and professional potential, often unlocking previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

We couldn’t agree with this definition any more! Lawyers should look at the coaching experience as an opportunity to partner with someone who can help guide them to be more optimal versions of themselves — professionally and personally.

Why should every lawyer have a coach?

Great question. Coaching is well established in industries like health care, technology, accounting, and big business as a key element in creating and sustaining high performance, productivity, profitability, positive organizational culture, retention, and change management.

While the legal profession has been slower to catch on, lawyers too can benefit from professional, targeted help in choosing changes, making sustainable changes and responding to the changes around them.

It’s no secret that lawyers and the legal profession as a whole face an increasingly complex ecosystem of shifting economic, social, and technological realities—and making changes in this “real world” environment can be challenging and complex.

While lawyers often focus on their technical and legal competence, skills such as leadership, management, communication, and conflict resolution boost performance, satisfaction, and the financial bottom line.

High performance requires an ongoing commitment to personal and professional development, and coaching allows lawyers to learn how to be accountable to the kind of intentional and continual growth that truly makes a difference.

How is a coach different from a therapist, a consultant, or just a good friend?

Lawyers choose therapy when they become aware of some specific dysfunction that is interfering with their life. The goal of therapy is to move individuals from dysfunctional to functional.

The goal of coaching, however, is to help clients move from functional to optimal in any area of life. Coaches know that there is always room for greater growth, success, and satisfaction.

Lawyers choose consulting when they have a specific issue to be solved, and they believe there is an expert who can tell them what to do to solve the problem.

Coaches refrain from providing specific advice. Instead, coaches facilitate change by guiding and challenging the client to create his or her own solution. Coaches support foundational change which increases the client’s capacity to self-assess, self-correct, and self-motivate for long-term success.

Good friends are vital to anyone’s happiness and well-being. Still, they are not fully objective, unattached to outcomes, or averse to giving advice.

A coach, on the other hand, is objective, supportive, and completely non-judgmental. The coach’s goal is not to affect any choice the client makes, but to ensure they are making that choice consciously, with all the information available to them.

How do I know I’m ready for coaching?

You can investigate coaching in many ways. Some options include: