The Challenge of Defining Coaching

Why is this important?

Defining coaching is a not easy, which creates a great deal of healthy, but often confusing discussions.  You, as well as potential clients all have ideas, impressions and experiences that make up their “idea” of what coaching is. Our intention, with this assignment, is to help you be skillful in communication what coaching is to others and also to learn from the diversity of the approaches and definitions of coaching. We believe that coaches benefit from creating their own definition of coaching, which can provide purpose, meaning and clarity for themselves and others.



Be open-minded when you read the assignment and complete the tasks in the list below. Put yourself in a learning mode, and allow yourself to be in an open mental state where your thinking and opinions can be expanded, challenged and inspired.


Steps to completing the assignment

  1. Imagine someone has asked you the question – “What is coaching?”
    • How would you answer it right this moment?
    • Capture your response however it works best for you, the only limit you have is to finish your reply in 30 seconds or less.
  2. Notice key words, concepts or emphasis that you have chosen.
  3. Read this supplemental article (Defining Coaching Supplement)
  4. Using the links provided please visit the International Coach Federation (ICF) and European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC).
    • While on the site, please explore and find the definition of coaching that is provided and read and reflect on it.
  5. Research other definitions of coaching by coaches, organisations, coaching houses, etc.… The purpose of this is to expose you to how others define coaching, expose you to the breadth of coaching, and begin to create your own language.
    • Collect definitions that interest you, confuse you, and inspire you. Note words and phrases that connect with you and may connect with the coaching clients you envision working with in the future.


Capture your work and bring your conclusions, confusions, and questions to the Kick-off session. We will be using your work to create dialogue and learn together.

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