Coaching Lessons; Tailor-made instruction for life and career hike coaches popularity
Pittsburgh Business Times
Coach Brenda Smith doesn't wear a sweatsuit to work nor does she require that her charges perform calisthenics. But she does give her clients a good workout.
Ms. Smith is one of handful of professional coaches serving the business world in Pittsburgh and one of 10,000 internationally, according to the International Coach Federation, a nonprofit group based in Angel Fire, N.M., that provides education and support for the profession.
According to the ICF, the coaching profession began in the early 1980s and is growing rapidly the number of coaches having doubled each of the past three years.
Ms. Smith is founder of peoplesmith a coaching firm in Squirrel Hill where she helps those pondering entrepreneurship, a career change or similar situation balance their professional and personal lives, or simply become more efficient.
"Usually its I want to do X and Im not being successful or somethings getting in my way," said Ms. Smith.
Kathy Fein is an attorney, a client of Ms. Smith and a coach herself, having begun her coaching career in December providing service from her Point Breeze residence. Ms. Fein believes people are happiest when they can use their personal strengths effectively in their careers. And that, she says, is what a coach can help them do.
"How you are functioning in your personal life is a reflection of how you are functioning in your business life," said Ms. Fein.
Denise Johnson, chief marketing officer with PNC Bank Corp., Downtown, began using a coach at her former ad agency job in Boston. Now in Pittsburgh, she uses the same coach via phone to help her enhance her management skills.
"The degree to which the coach can be empathetic to the situation is important," she said.
Coaching sessions can cost from $200 to $400 a month for weekly or biweekly sessions, which last 30 minutes to an hour, according to the association. Coaches offer no guarantees, but Ms. Fein said she tells clients that coaching will give them strength and motivation.
She said that while some may view coaching as a type of therapy, the two are not interchangeable. Ms. Smith described therapy as concentrating on past events and dysfunction, and coaching as dealing with the present and future.
But George Borowsky, president of InSight 3, a Sewickley consulting firm, calls himself a "business therapist" and said many consultants, including himself, are coaches.
quot;A good consultant will often do coaching as well," he said. Consultants provide alternative while coaches help individuals find their own solutions. "A coach is there during the game," he added.
Relationship building between coach and client is a long process based on trust, which Ms. Smith said she attempts to build by sharing her personal history and asking the client to do likewise.
She attempts to head off client dependency by assigning homework tasks and allowing the client to develop their own solutions, rather than providing them. Ms. Smith believes her clients have the answers, but need direction. Once one problem is resolved, others tend to take care of themselves, she said.
"What they actually choose to do is really their choice," she said.
Clients should be careful in choosing a coach as well. While there are voluntary certification programs, there are no educational requirements for coaches.
Ms. Fein, for example, takes correspondence courses at Coach University a two-year school in Brandon, Fla. She also takes online courses offered by Coaches Training Institute in San Raphael, Calif.
How do you know if your coach is qualified? Experts advise prospective clients to research and seek references from other clients. In addition, Mr. Borowsky said, a coachs philosophies and time schedule should match the clients.
"Meet two or three or five before settling on one," he said.