Do a Google image search for "coaching" and you'll find several word cloud images, and a few more along these lines:
The idea being, of course, that the coach (orange) is someone who helps the employee (blue) to attain greater heights.
While the meaning is correct, the analogy is poor. Because the coach is generally the person at the bottom.
Here's what I mean. Let's go with the climbing analogy, and take a look at a rock wall.
First thing about the coach - he's done this before. So he knows where to put his hands and feet. And he knows that what worked for him may or may not work for you. So he's going to spend his time down here, at the base of the rock wall, helping you plan your approach.
While you're starting your climb, your coach has a firm grip on that safety line, getting ready to hold you up in case you fall. And he's likely sharing advice while you're moving up the wall, reminding you to relax your grip, offering tips on how to keep your balance. Letting you know if your feet are making too much noise. Praising you once you get to the top, or going over your actions should you fall.
An important component of this analogy is the idea that the climber is in a pattern of growth and improvement. The purpose of our climber coach isn't necessarily to get you to the top, although that's one measurable goal. The purpose of the coach is to help you climb the wall again, and to get better at it. To advance from a static climbing technique to a dynamic climbing technique. To tackle tougher verticals. And to consistently be there, time after time, to help you when you fall, and challenge you further when you succeed.
Of course, the things we're looking to climb aren't rocks. They're career paths. The strategies we work on are a bit more intangible, and the handholds not as evenly spaced. When the business world challenges our teams and organizations with our next obstacles, what approaches should we use?
We'll discuss a few of the top approaches to develop people in our March 25 Learning Event, "Coach for Performance Improvement (click here to learn more!). Steve VerBurg, the President of Dale Carnegie Training of Orange County, will talk about the cycle of Growth and Change, and how it relates to training and coaching. He'll address the top approaches to develop the people who depend upon your skills and knowledge, and perhaps illustrate a bit more why the coach is the one at the foot of the ascent, reminding the performer what it takes to get to the top.