The purpose of life and business coaching is to identify abilities, skills, and potentials within a person or company, and help them maximize their potential. Coaches focus on communicating about personal or business goals, creating plans to achieve those goals, and creatively encouraging the realization of goals. Life and business coaching is not a government-regulated profession, although coaches may belong to professional organizations that provide standards and guidelines that members agree to meet and follow.
Styles of life and business coaching are variable, and methods are often as individual as the coaches themselves. Since the goal of a life coach is generally to unleash personal potential, the coach usually guides the individual in identifying and setting personal goals, and then assists in creating a plan for achieving personal goals. The life coach provides open communication, creative encouragement, and general support as the person attempts to achieve their personal goals.
Common personal goals addressed through life coaching include achieving a satisfactory work-life balance, integrating health and fitness into a busy lifestyle, and integrating personal passions into a career path. Unlike more specialized coaches, life coaches often take a holistic, top-down, or inclusive approach to a person's goals. In other words, a life coach is usually open to addressing all aspects of an individual’s personal and professional life.
Business coaches are also interested in maximizing potential, however, their focus is on maximizing the potential of a business or company. Usually, business coaches are employed by businesses or organizations to improve work efficiency or office culture. Unlike life coaches, business coaches are much more likely to specialize, and may focus on professional leadership, executive development, or specific employees within corporate culture.
Life and business coaching is most effectively accomplished through a series of meetings between the coach and the individual or organization. Many life and business coaches, however, share some or all of their methods and ideas through public talks, books, and websites. These alternate resources can provide an excellent introduction to the styles of each coach, and the methods can sometimes be adopted by individuals without the aid of a coach.
Most life or business coaches have received some form of educational preparation and training. Although life and business coaching is not government regulated, there are formal coaching educational programs. Coaches also commonly join professional organizations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), the International Association of Coaching (IAC), or the International Coaching Council (ICC). Professional coaching organizations provide some regulation of the industry through their established codes of ethics and professionalism. Members agree to abide by the ethical and educational standards of the organization to which they belong.