Similarities and Differences in Coaching

Business and Executive Coaching is a very challenging and yet very rewarding profession.  Helping business owners and senior members of staff to address important issues that may be preventing them to achieve the real success they deserve, is truly very satisfying.

This article highlights similarities and differences which can be found in different styles and/or types of coaching.   In my experience of delivering coaching to individuals, teams and groups, I have learnt to adopt the most appropriate form of coaching while maintaining the key proposition: helping business individuals to identify and address issues that prevent them from being highly successful and releasing their full potential.


Different people associate the word coaching to a range of meanings; I will refer in this article to coaching as a process based on self-directed learning, addressed at business people, with the aim of addressing and solving issues around business performance, where the coach’s main role is asking questions. This way, the coach stimulates and facilitates the client’s thinking therefore helping her/him to address those issues that are preventing the achievement of her/his full potential.  Coaching methodologies differ from each other quite considerably and, while some of them are based on a fairly laid back approach, others carry articulate structures and measurability metrics that allow both Coach and Client to understand where the process is going and easily measure the results.

Irrespectively of the different type of coaching used, the key element, that ensures the expected outcome, is the commitment  of the client  to simply carry out the actions and tasks agreed during the session/s.

Coaching Individuals

Similarly to personal training for athletes,  we can say that coaching individuals in business is a very effective way of  ensuring a swift and powerful transformation in the client’s outcome.  By working regularly with a coach, the client is stimulated, stretched, supported and, at the same time, held  accountable to ensure that she/he will maintain focus and dedicate sufficient energy toward the achievement of her/his goals.  It is the coach’s responsibility to be fully dedicated and ensure that the client can achieve the best possible outcome in the shortest period of time.   Coaching individuals also offers full confidentiality; clients can disclose to the coach their deepest emotional issues that may affect their performance in business, without seemingly being directed related to business at all.

Coaching Teams

A simple and obvious definition of Team Coaching is: “helping a group of people  become and/or behave like a Team”.  A Team should have certain typical features like complementary skill-set among members, willing to work together as a whole and having agreed on a common working approach and methodology.  Team members may know each other socially to certain extent and they have to work together either virtually or in person.  As coaches, we need to ensure that we are helping the Team members define common goals and have an agreement about tasks and actions that each member will perform.  Eventual disagreements and conflicts must be addressed and promptly resolved to avoid long term negative repercussions.  Compared to Individual Coaching, the level of confidentiality toward each member is reduced although common rules about what should and can be disclosed and addressed are usually agreed at the beginning of each session.  The level of accountability among members of the team is ensured by the expectations from each member of the team to receive specific and prefixed results from all members.

Coaching Groups

Coaching a group of heterogeneous people is a great way of helping them address issues they would normally discuss during individual one-to-one sessions. Alongside coaching and several other benefits, working in a group offers the wealth of knowledge and experience from other members of the group.  Within a well selected group, is quite common to find out that somebody’s current challenge is part somebody else’s experience.  Each member of the group has his own agenda about what to achieve and the content of the coaching sessions is dictated by these specific needs.   I have developed a format for group coaching which ensures  that each member of the group can quickly get used to and learn to use coaching-based conversations (e.g. asking questions) when dealing with other members of the group.

Similarities in coaching Individuals, Teams and Groups

Building on what we described before, we can say that the 3 types of coaching all share the following similarities:

  • Self directed learning during coaching conversations: asking questions and stimulating the clients’ thinking will  help them  achieve solutions that they will own, be motivated to achieve and proud for having achieved them.
  • Dedication of the coach: in all cases, the coach’s role to ensure that  clients will achieve the best possible outcomes as per their own definition and expectations: e.g. the coach will/should not offer an opinion or judgement about what the outcome should be and whether it’s good or bad for the client.
  • Commitment of the client: no result can be achieved unless the client commits to take action and carry out the tasks agreed during each session.
  • Lasting results: achieving one or more goals could have a limited and short term meaning and so it is key that the coach helps clients to extend the learning process and the benefits of coaching to create a positive impact on other areas of the clients’ business and private life.

Differences between coaching Individuals, Teams and Groups

Withstanding the similarities described in the previous paragraph, we should bear in mind the following differences:

  • The level of confidentiality: it can be expected to have total confidentiality when coached as part of an individual session; when coaching within a team session there are different areas of conversation that can be totally open but equally there may be areas of conflict that could cause resistance from some of the members of the team. When coaching a group is a good practice to ensure that all members of the group are bound by a comprehensive agreement that include a professionally written paragraph which ensures and enforces confidentiality.
  • Duration of the sessions: individual coaching is usually arranged in fairly short sessions, usually ranging between 45 and 120 minutes although shorter or longer sessions can be possible.  Team and Group sessions  usually last between 2 and 7 hours depending on the size of the group and their specific needs.
  • Frequency of the sessions: individual sessions are organised weekly or fortnightly, although some programs work over 3 or 4 weeks periods; Team or Group sessions usually operate on longer periods, 4-12 weeks between sessions.
  • Delivery of the sessions: sessions for individuals can be delivered in person as well as over the telephone or other VoIP technologies.  In fact nearly 50% of all coaching delivered is over the phone.  Team and Group coaching is usually delivered in person while there can be short follow-up conference calls in between.


Coaching is a powerful tool that helps individuals, teams and groups to define and achieve lasting goals for themselves and their businesses.  The choice of being coached as an individual or part of a team or group can depend from a number of factors, some of which can be out of your control; the most important thing to agree is that, whatever you expect to achieve through coaching, can and will indeed be achieved. The one key element which may determine the outcome of any type of coaching program, is the willingness of the client to follow through, to take action and actually do what he/she has agreed to do; no action = no results.

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This post was written by massimo on 24 March 2011

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Free Coaching Call Jan 2010

MaGa offers you the unique opportunity of being coached over the phone during our monthly conference call that will be held on Wed 13 Jan 2010 at 3pm.  The call lasts one hour and several people have the opportunity of asking questions about how to improve their business or life and being coached live during the call.

If you are interested in being coached for free and have a doubt, a dilemma or a problem that you would like to discuss we want to hear from you!

Please Subscribe to MaGa Coaching by Email and we will send you the details of the next Free Coaching Call.

Please also book your place using the form below: it’s totally free (apart the standard call rate to a land line number) but we need to know who will be calling in to assess the numbers.


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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 23 December 2009

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Massimo Gaetani interviewed by Radio 209 Cambridge

MaGa Coaching’s MD, Massimo Gaetani, was recently interviewed by Davina and Scratch  during their Drive105 show on Radio 209 , a local community Radio that broadcasts from Cambridge on 105 FM.

In this interview Massimo first explains various aspects of coaching and then he coaches Scratch on a simple dilemma just to explain how coaching can work.

Please listen to the interview here:

Radio209 – Massimo Gaetani’s Interview

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 21 September 2009

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Testimonial from Ian Paterson

After losing my job in the credit crunch last year my life became unstable and my debts became unmanageable.  As time went on without being able to find another position I found my professional confidence also waning.   MaGa Coaching helped me by encouraging me to refocus on those key areas of my life that I was neglecting.  In turn this focus boosted my motivation both personally and professionally.  Although I now have the job that I wanted and I am in a strong position personally, I will still continue to use MaGa Coaching in order to maintain this self awareness and direction.

Ian Paterson

Business Development Manager – Voice Commerce Group – Cambridge

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This post was written by MaGa Coaching on 14 September 2009

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9 questions to ask before hiring a personal coach

coachCoaching has become a fashionable profession.  More and more people are now considering normal the idea that a coach can effectively help them to move from a current situation to an expected outcome within their life and business.  This new trend has also inspired many people to call themselves coaches while they are not.  So if you are considering hiring a personal coach to help your self development you could use the following questions to assess his/her experience and credibility:

  1. what coaching qualifications do you hold?
  2. what can I achieve from being coached from you?
  3. how can you advise me about my life?
  4. on what areas can you coach me?
  5. in what areas do you specialise?
  6. how long have you been coaching for?
  7. who are your clients at the moment?
  8. what is your background before you started coaching?
  9. do you offer packages or do you charge on a on going basis?

I will list below some acceptable answers you might get and that you can compare to your personal expectations:

  1. I hold and Intensive Coaching Training Certificate from Results Coaching System” or “I qualified as a coach from the Coaching Academy”: coaching is at the moment unregulated.  Anybody can start selling his/her time as a coach and unfortunately many people out there are currently doing it.  Having a qualification from a recognised training institution will guarantee you to be dealing with a real coach not just somebody who defines himself/herself a coach.
  2. Anything realistically achievable that you are willing to commit time and resources to” or “it will depend on what you would like to achieve”: coaching can help you to move from a current situation to an expected outcome.  In any case the coach cannot know before hand what you would like and can achieve from the coaching.  It should sound suspicious if he/she speculates on the expected outcome.
  3. As a coach I refrain from advising, I ask questions and help you to find your own answers”: coaching is about asking questions and not advising.  A coach that advises is not a coach but perhaps a mentor, consultant or trainer.
  4. “As a personal coaching I can help most individuals in a broad number of areas, such as personal performance, improving social, romantic and business relationships, parenting, weight management, finance, housing, project management, personal achievement, midlife crisis and motivation: the question is what areas would you like to be coached on?”: different coaches will offer perhaps different answers.
  5. I work primarily with personal clients, private individuals, who are usual in management or professional roles that would like to achieve more from their life”: it’s preferable dealing with somebody that has clear idea of who his/her clients are and that chooses to work just with them rather than a person that works with anybody who comes along.
  6. Have been coaching for 3 years, full time for the last 18 months”: coaching is a relatively new profession and the top qualified coaches in the UK have been coaching for just a bit more that ten years.  Therefore 2-3 years experience is considered a good and reliable level of expertise.
  7. following our code of ethics I cannot disclose who my clients are: I occasionally mention situations and coaching conversations while I always keep my client’s identity confidential”  Beware of a coach who lists their clients’ names.
  8. I have 10 years experience in training and education” or “I have over 15 years of management experience in both junior, senior and board positions in small to large enterprises”: some coaches have a background in HR or psychology and build on that; at the same time coaching is a methodology to deal with issues that goes beyond the actual background so any solid work experience will be a great start for a professional willing to become a coach.
  9. I offer several packages like personal, business and executive based on 12 sessions developed over 3 to 6 months”: open ended payment schemes where you start one day without a clear idea of when you finish are reflecting the working methodology of therapists: they are also encouraging the coach to keep you engaged as long as possible in order to make more money off you.

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This post was written by massimo on 28 August 2009

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Setting Goals for Your New Year’s Resolution?

As the festive season approaches and everybody is busy with their Christmas shopping it becomes natural for many to sort out and complete just the essential tasks while postponing the rest to the New Year.  Don’t we all feel as if, in the New Year, days will have 30 hours and weeks will be 10 days long?  We are all convinced that we can catch up with all things we left behind and postponed.  A sad fact of life is that many plans do not even get into execution mode or, when they do, they get overridden by more urgent activities: by mid or late January we are back at square one.

New Year’s resolution for some businesses might be the implementation that new strategy, growing sales, cutting costs, gaining market share, improving morale, resolving personal conflicts, launching new products and contributing to an early end of this recession.

Personally we want to be better organized, loose those extra pounds accumulated with excessive drinking and eating, spend more time with friends and family and even having time to plan that long awaited holiday.  In the current economic climate we might have to plan about dealing with redundancy and finding a new job.

Setting goals, powerful goals, for your business and life is difficult and it is even more difficult to focus and achieve them when we have busy lives with lots of interferences.  A promise you made to yourself it is often a commitment that can be ignored when you feelfading away the energy that initially inspired it.

This is why an increasing number of individuals from all walks of life seek help from a professional coach. Being a specialist in setting goals, helping you to formulate and define them so that they can be inspiring for you, the coach can improve dramatically your focus and ensure you will achieve or even surpass your expectations.  Each goal should be realistic, e.g. you know you can achieve it, but at the same time it should be stretching your will, e.g. if it is easy to achieve there will be no challenge in going for it and little satisfaction once you achieved it.  Whether the goal is business or life related it is important to set proper strategies to define how it will be achieved and build, week after week, a set of actions to be completed toward the goal achievement.  Professional coaching, with its inspiring and self learning approach, truly involves you and your commitment to a more successful career, business and personal life.

At MaGa Coaching we are offering our experience and expertise to people in senior management positions that would like to achieve more in their professional life and in their company together with individuals that are equally inspired in achieving more and look for professional help to do so.

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This post was written by massimo on 19 December 2008

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Coaching What?

Coaching has been around for some time, many decades: the term is usually very common and well understood when talking about sports coaching. At the same time definitions like life coaching, personal coaching, business coaching and executive coaching are much more recent in history: many people fail to recognise the term or have a very vague, often incorrect, idea about what that mean. While in the US the concept of personal coaching has been around for 20 years or more the in UK and the rest of Anglophone countries people with 10 years of experience are considered absolute gurus.

The sport coach is usually not the super expert or the retired champion: he is somebody that surely knows the sport but also has the right knowledge, techniques and personality to inspire and motivate the people he/she is coaching. We know of football, tennis, rugby or other sport coaches and some of them are real celebrities: behind a great champion or team is always a great coach.

A professional personal coach is an individual that usually mixes a broad background of experiences with one, often several, coaching qualifications that allow him/her to coach effectively a range of clients. Some coaches specialize in very specific subjects like career or self esteem while others tend to have a more general approach. In my experience business and executive coaches need to have the right management background, in order to have a common language with their client when coaching is centred on business.

Coaching, in its simple definition, is about asking questions, the right questions to help the client doing the appropriate thinking around his/her situation that often involves a dilemma his/she is trying to solve. For these reasons a coach should refrain from giving advice. Advice is my solution to your issue: you might like the advice and take it on board but it is proven that in the long term real solutions are the ones you identify by yourself. Once the right solution or direction has been identified then coaching is about action, getting the client to commit to a set of actions that will help delivering the results and achieving the goal.

So if you have a friend, a colleague or a relative that says “I would (should) really loose weight (or do more exercise, or socialize more or sell more) but…I cannot (I don’t have time, it’s the wrong moment)” then the right suggestion might be: “sounds like you need a coach”.

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This post was written by massimo on 21 October 2008

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