Coaching, leadership and performance

Coaching, leadership and performance

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More and more leaders and entrepreneurs around the world are using coaching both for their own development or for the business growth, as well as in the relationship with the teams they are coordinating. Coaching is one of the newest and most effective forms of learning, being applied successfully in achieving individual or team performance since the 1990s, when Thomas Leonard set up Coach University, thus putting coaching definitively on the map of modern professions.

Coaching can be defined as a way of assisting personal development. According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), coaching is a partnership that accelerates the client’s rhythm of learning, his performance and progress, both personally and professionally. It is that partnership with customers that creates a creative challenge-thinking process that inspires them to maximize their own potential.


The European Coaching Institute (ECI) considers coaching as a process that helps the client giving up what he is now in order to become what he wants to be.


Thimothy Gallwey, the father of the modern coaching, believes that this method frees people’s potential to maximize performance, helping them learn rather than actually teach them something.  The English word COACH has its own etymology in the French word coche, which experts say that comes from Hungarian kocsis or the Czech word koczi. In the sixteenth century, it designated a diligence traced by horses for the transport of passengers. The one who had such a coche was, of course, named the cocher. But another class of professionals had already been called the cocher: the warriors who, in antiquity, stood next to their masters and had the task of maneuvering the carrage during the battle. These civilian or military cochers had already played a discreet but essential role, namely to guide passengers, to take them from one point to another, to accompany them, to help them overcome obstacles. In the current sense of the term, coaching has its roots in the sporting environment. In his book “The Inner Game of Tennis”, Timothy Gallwey notes that before one claiming that will win ahead his competitors, he must first face the inner opponent and overcome the internal obstacles that prevent him from reavealing his full potential. From here to the point where one can see in every person a “champion” who sleeps deep inside and which a proper training could awaken, it’s just one step. Coaching, as it is put in practice nourdays, when many people feel the need to regain the meaning and rebuild relationships of any type (professional, personal, familial, social, etc.) in a world that evolves and is rapidly developing, continues to promote the values ​​of the past “companions”. Undoubtedly, however, being a coach does not mean driving a carriage, shouting or whipping. Psychologist Carl Rogers believes that nobody can teach others anything. Neither the assisting person, on one hand, nor the guided client, on the other hand, individually have the solution in solving a challenge, but the solution is born in intersubjectivity, in the confrontation and presence of the two parties in the process. The guiding role of the coach has been enriched, metamorphosed, coaching putting the man face to face with his abilities, with the roles of his daily life, with the system he is part of and it is becoming a meta-profession beyond all the other professions, as beautifully defined by Alain Cardon, the founder of the systemic school.

In the current business environment, the role of manager / leader has received valences similar to the coach, with the aim of accompanying and assisting the team to accomplish ambitious results.

Expressions “getting the best out of someone” and “hidden potential” imply that there is much greater potential within each person waiting to be unlocked. The main condition for a manager or a coach working to support people materializing this potential is to think they have a greater capacity than what they usually express. He has to think of each person in terms of his potential, and not just those of his performance.


In order to reveal the best out of people, we have to trust that there is the best inside them – but how can we be sure of it, how much and how do we manage to bring out that potential?


There are different ways to unleash this potential – motivation, knowledge of the needs and correct positioning against them, changing the perspective, activating the right context, or even a crisis.

Motivation is the feeling that energizes and gives direction to human behavior. Coaching reveals and uses motives or mobiles (conscious or not) that cause someone to perform a certain action, aim at certain purposes, and those that block the person in question. The reasons are personal to each being and appear from:

  • Needs
  • Beliefs
  • Emotions
  • Their combination

Coaching also works with the client’s needs, with his wishes, preferences and expectations, which gain an objective character through awareness and inclusion in the daily habits. Needs are, moreover, internal conditions of the organism necessary for survival, development and wellbeing.  Changing the perspectivealways facilitates the complete and complex understanding of a state of fact, a way to act, a repetitive behavior or pattern. This is an important step before the actual initiation of a change. Once the client has clearly defined the goal, after discovering and probing motivations and needs, it is important to find and activate the right context and the resources needed to achieve the desired goal.  Even if all people have total capacity to do things, the crisis can sometimes be the only catalyst for change. But is the crisis the only catalyst? And how long can we support extraordinary levels of performance? Part of this potential can be accessed through coaching, and performance is achievable, perhaps not at superhuman levels, but certainly at much higher levels than we usually agree to believe.


There are many coaching models and types, depending on the coach who applies them and the influences that he can undertake from different areas of study and practice. Continuous learning is certainly the common feature of coaching professionals, and this brings with it permanent discoveries that mark their coaching patterns and coaching models.  Brief overview of the coaching schools with influences from different systems:

  • The psychodynamic approach – it operates by exploring, defining and integrating the client’s personal history, bringing to light the unconscious motivations that have impressed all the experiences, events and emotions that he had lived through life
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Coaching – it operates with the ability to change human cognitions and behaviors in order to improve health and individual performance. It drives the client towards a more efficient way of thinking and towards acquiring behavioral abilities that give quality to life.
  • Solution-focus approach – it assists the client in defining future desired state and building a way of thinking and action to achieve that state


  • Customer-focus approach – based on empathic communication with the client and unconditional positive attitude towards it
  • Existential coaching – it explores the tensions and polarities of life (meaning-meaningless, significant-insignificant, certain-uncertain, etc.)
  • Ontological coaching – it addresses the triggering of changes for the coachee in order to develop his perceptions and behaviors
  • Narrative coaching – a method based on the use of connections between stories, identity and behaviors, inviting coachee to see his personal history from different perspectives


  • The transpersonal approach – it is a trend bases on the idea that the sessions ment to ​​solve problems, to reveal new habits, personal development and action plans, slowly migrates to sessions where the coachee answers the question: “Who am I?”
  • Positive psychology – it consciously focuses on the positive aspects of a situation, strengths and opportunities to the detriment of negative aspects and weaknesses


  • Transactional analysis – it is used to identify those behaviors, emotions and thoughts that prevent human development to maximum potential, to eliminate dysfunctional behaviors and to strengthen positive relationships and healthy functioning. Transactional analysis uses a wide range of techniques, from psychodynamic to cognitive
  • NLP coaching (Neuro-linguistic programming) – it is used for both personal development and business success. NLP means understanding how people organize their thinking, feelings, language and behavior to achieve results. A key element of NLP is that we build our own mental maps according to how we select and retrieve the information from the outside environment, using our 5 senses.


Coaching models are methods designed to guide an individual through the coaching process, the essential steps to be taken in the process, synthesized as an acronym for ease of remembering. Among the most popular coaching models are:

  • GROW – setting the objective, verifying reality, options, steps to be taken
  • ACHIEVE – assessing the current situation, listing options, detailing the objective, initiating options, evaluating options, validating the action plan, encouraging the use of momentum
  • FUEL – framing the conversation, understanding the current situation, assessing the desired situation, planning the success
  • OSKAR – setting the expected goal, scaling the situation from 1-10, know-how and resources, setting the plan and starting the action, reviewing the actions that have results
  • CLEAR – contracting the goal, listening and defining the context, exploring the alternatives, drawing up the action plan, reviewing it
  • STEPPA – subject, target, emotion, perception, plan, rhythm, adaptation or action
  • SOLVE – quoting the problem, viewing the problem solving, listing the exceptions, checking the plan, executing the plan


For full success on the road to performance, we owe to seek and apply the most appropriate techniques. Coaching is an effective method that strikes a balance between finding our own ways of action and the resources needed to reach an objective, leading at the same time to the discovery of multiple talents and inner skills that ultimately support us in development and evolution.

Carmen Oprea, Procurement& Administration Manager | Professional Coach, ICF member