Productivity Coach’s Corner: What Does It Mean to Coach (and Be Coached)?

Find someone who can ask you questions, listen to you think, and provide you with space and time to see you anew.

Do you have a few minutes to reflect? Can you pause long enough to let your mind wander and wonder about the idea of coaching? Bring to mind what you think it means to coach and to be coached. If you want to, close your eyes or open a journal, and take a moment to think about that.

Welcome back. Hopefully, you exercised your mind over the last minute or so. And that is what we do when coaching someone. We ask them to think. A little more, a little deeper, a little longer. In a world (and most likely a workplace) that often rewards speed and rapid decision-making, it’s not always easy to click pause. But as a coach, it’s often the most important thing I do.

Many of you can look around at the way you work today, and you can see how it is different than before the pandemic began. Maybe you are hosting more virtual meetings. Or fewer. Perhaps you are managing different kinds of projects. Has the size of your organization grown over the last year? Or shrunk? No matter what, you are no doubt working alongside others and regularly have the chance to influence—or be influenced by—them.

Differentiating Coaching from…Coaching

I am a Board Certified Coach (BCC) with designations as an Executive Leadership Coach and a Career Coach. When I started, I began by doing a lot of reflecting and journaling about my own coaching philosophy. I wanted to clarify to those I worked with what I think coaching is, why I believe in it so much, and how I facilitate my coaching conversations. The first thing I always do is differentiate coaching…from coaching.

When I was young, I played baseball in high school and college (just my first year—I became a professional educator after that!). We called them coaches, but they were much more directors and trainers than the kind of coach I talk about today. They knew what they wanted me to do, and I was successful if I did what they wanted in a way that was as close to the picture they had in their mind as possible.

That is fundamentally different than the image I have in my mind as a leadership coach. You see, I don’t have a predetermined, biased picture in my mind of what you should be, or how you should do what you do. Instead, I’m the guy who asks questions.

Things have changed, friends. The work (and life) world that we knew before 2020 is not going to return to how we knew it then. As such, now is the time to coach and be coached. Find someone who can ask you questions, listen to you think, and provide you with space and time to see you anew.

What is a coach? And is it time for you to find a new one? What does a coach do? And is it time for you to do that? Finally, when it comes to building a picture of your future, I invite you to go back to that journal or close your eyes again. Envision yourself out there. And when it’s time, ask for the help you need in getting there!

Dr. Jason Womack
Dr. Jason W. Womack ( is an author, TEDx speaker, and leadership coach working with organizations as they re-imagine not just how people work together, but the way colleagues both take care of AND challenge each other. His programs help people stress less, focus more, and achieve greater levels of success…as defined by each individual who contributes to the organizational mission. His books can be found at Amazon: