What Is a Coach? (And Why You Probably Need One)

Long gone are the days when working with a coach was only for professional athletes, top executives, or the rich and famous. The coaching industry is growing rapidly, making coaching an affordable option for people in various careers, industries, and walks of life. 

But do you need a coach? Nearly any individual can benefit from working with a coach. Read on to find out what coaching is, how to decide if it’s right for you, and some primary benefits of working with a coach. 

What is coaching? 

Coaching is the act of partnering with a professional to work toward your goals and desired future outcomes. Coaching is about you as a whole person: your values and goals, both personal and professional. 

Within the coaching relationship, you are in the driver’s seat. Coaching is about creating positive change wherever you feel you want or need it most. Unlike mentoring, with a focus on knowledge sharing, or counseling with a focus on healing past trauma, coaching focuses on creating awareness and taking small actions that add up to big results. Coaches work to help you challenge patterns of thinking and action so that you can have more of what you do want in your life.

Is coaching right for you? 

The short answer is, it depends. Coaching is right for you if you’re ready and eager to improve your life (with one caveat: coaching is not a substitute for therapy. If you’re dealing with severe mental health concerns — such as substance misuse, trauma, severe anxiety, depression, or other concerns that interfere with daily living — we recommend seeking professional mental health support before or while you’re working with a coach). A coach may suggest that you seek assistance from a mental health professional or other professionals as well depending on your needs. 

If this sounds like you, you may be thinking, “OK, but do I need a life coach, a career coach, or something else?” While there are plenty of specialty coaches, we believe that people get the most value in working with a coach who focuses on whole-person development. This type of coach can help you show up better at work, in relationships, and in all aspects of your life. 

Your personality and coaching 

What does your personality have to do with coaching? More than you might think. Self-awareness is essential for effective coaching  — and in fact, is one of the key areas that develop when working with a coach. If you understand how your personality and perspective impact yourself and others, you’ll get much more out of coaching. 

This is why many coaches use assessments such as those based on the Myers & Briggs 16-type model, the DISC, and the Big Five. These tools not only allow you as the “coachee” to better understand your personality, but they also give your coach additional insights into your innate strengths and blind spots so that they can communicate with you more effectively and ensure you’re set up for success from the beginning. 

Coaches are trained in using personality assessments to help their clients maximize their strengths, improve relationships and communication skills, and move forward toward their desired outcomes. Coaching’s focus on skill-based development helps members set goals and provides accountability, as well as insight, as they work to achieve them.

Key benefits of coaching 

In case you’re still wondering if coaching is right for you, here are a few more benefits. 

1. Coaching will make you a better, more effective leader. 

You may think that only a certain type of person can be a great leader. But research shows that anyone can learn how to lead effectively. Unfortunately, many people go into leadership positions without the tools or training they need to thrive. This often leads to communication problems, ineffective conflict resolution, and ultimately, poorer performance from the leader and his or her team. 

Leadership coaching paired with personality testing can help leaders gain a stronger sense of self-awareness, identify their strengths and blind spots, and improve their communication skills. Coaching also helps leaders see their challenges from fresh perspectives and gain confidence in their leadership. 

2. Coaching improves your work performance and productivity. 

Another benefit of working with a coach is that they can help you improve skills directly tied to your work performance and productivity. 

One BetterUp study found that individuals who have built skills in managing their energy and emotions “have 153% higher team performance as rated by their direct reports” and also reported “13% higher rates of goal attainment.” 

“I went from having no idea what kind of goals I could make for myself to actively finding ways to make these goals a reality,” said a BetterUp member. 

3. Coaching improves your wellbeing — in all areas of your life. 

Coaching not only helps with personal and professional development. Working with a coach can also improve your overall well-being. Based on the results of a survey conducted by BetterUp, participants who were paired with a coach saw “a 38% decrease in languishing” after three months. 

Another BetterUp study shows that individuals who work with a coach are able to better manage stress, are less likely to experience burnout, have increased resilience and self-awareness, and experience improved relationships and connections with others. 

“Working with my BetterUp coach led me to increased professional and personal clarity and a renewed commitment to mental fitness for myself and the members of my team,” said another BetterUp member. “After experiencing the tremendous value of having a reliable thought partner in a safe space, I was inspired to embrace a coach-approach in various aspects of my life, which has allowed me to achieve a level of authenticity I didn’t know existed.”  

4. Coaches support and challenge you to succeed. 

If you’ve ever played a sport, then you’ve had a coach. And you likely know that the best athletic coaches help their athletes become the best they can be — on and off the field. 

Professional athletes know that being “fine” isn’t the same as being your best. A coach is someone you can count on to be there to support and challenge you. Because they’re invested in getting to know not just who you are, but what you want, a coach is able to push you to learn and grow in a way that gets you closer to reaching your goals. 

Find the right coach for you with BetterUp 

Ready to bring more purpose, clarity, and passion to your life? BetterUp’s world-class coaches can help level up your personal development journey. Whether you’re feeling stuck in your career or seeking more fulfillment in your personal life, working with a coach means you no longer have to navigate these challenges on your own. Sign up to get your free 1:1 BetterUp coaching session today.  

Megan Malone

Megan is a freelance writer and brand marketing consultant at Truity. She is passionate about helping people improve their relationships, careers, and quality of life using personality psychology. An INFJ and Enneagram 9, Megan lives quietly in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and two pups. You can chat with her on Twitter @meganmmalone.

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THE FINE PRINT: Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

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