The difference between coaching and training
Article by Michael Gates
The word ‘coaching’ is used a lot these days, often rather imprecisely. Whatever it is, it’s a growth industry, judging by the number of senior executives who use a coach.
Perhaps the key difference between coaching and training is that in training much of the input comes from the trainer, who is attempting to transfer knowledge or skills to the trainee, where coaching is about leading your clients to new insights about themselves and getting them to modify attitudes and behaviour which may be blocking their progress.
At CrossCulture, coaching focuses specifically on the area of persuasive communication – usually, but not always, across cultures – and may be more accurately described as a blend between coaching and highly-tailored training.
Everyone is an individual, but senior executives and politicians are often more individual than most! They can have powerfully distinct personalities which require sensitive handling. Their needs can be highly specialised. They tend to be motivated by personal development, and it is probably that thirst for learning which got them where they are in the first place. Some examples of clients our coaches/trainers have worked with include:
- A CEO whose true personality was not coming out on webcasts. We matched him with an expert on method acting and results were noticed by staff who had no idea he was being coached.
- A senior executive, recruited for his interpersonal skills, who realised during sessions with us that he had tried – unsuccessfully- to mimic the rational, logical style of the board to convince them, when they had hired him precisely to benefit from his different, more intuitive perspective.
- A world-renowned politician whose messages had been diluted through over-zealous voice training, and who needed to be made less self-conscious again.
- A CEO who needed to speak about the future and hypothesise with a greater degree of subtlety, with whom we worked closely on grammatical form and function in these key areas.
- A senior executive who needed to convey messages more effectively across national and organisational cultural divides.
Often our role is to coax clients into thinking more clearly about themselves, their audience and their message. To take them out of the sea of complexity in which they live and consider what they really want to get across – to structure it; to consider the emotional sub-text and to take their listeners’ needs into account more fully.
The British philosopher Bertrand Russell believed that clarity of thought was essential in order to avoid bad decisions. And it is the process of making the right decisions about what to say and how and implementing your decisions through effective persuasion that is at the heart of our approach to communication at this level.