Business coaching is a type of personal or human resource development. It provides positive support, feedback and advice to an individual or group basis to improve their personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching includes executive coaching, corporate coaching and leadership coaching.
The Professional Business Coach Alliance, The International Coach Federation, The International Coaching Council and the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches provide a membership-based association for business coaching professionals. These and other organizations train professionals to offer business coaching to business owners. However, there is no certification required to be a business or executive coach, and membership in such self-designed organizations is entirely optional. Further, standards and methods of training coaches can vary widely from organization to organization, reiterating the open-ended nature of business coaching. Many business coaches refer to themselves as Consultants, a broader business relationship than one which exclusively involves coaching. According to a MarketData Report in 2007, an estimated 40,000 people in the US, work as business or life coaches, and the $2.4 billion industry is growing at rate of 18% per year. According to the National Post, business coaching is one of the fastest growing service industries in the world.
There are almost as many different ways of delivering business coaching as there are business coaches. Some offer personal support and feedback, others combine a coaching approach with practical and structured business planning and bring a disciplined accountability to the relationship. Particularly in the small business market, business coaching is as much about driving profit as it is about developing the person.
Coaching is not a practice restricted to external experts or providers. Many organizations expect their senior leaders and middle managers to coach their team members to reach higher levels of performance, increased job satisfaction, personal growth, and career development. Business coaching is not the same as mentoring. Mentoring involves a developmental relationship between a more experienced “mentor” and a less experienced partner, and typically involves sharing of advice. A business coach can act as a mentor given that he or she has adequate expertise and experience. However, mentor ship is not a form of business coaching.