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The Importance of Coaching 101

The Coaching Academy Blog

Posted: October 2022

When I began my formal coaching journey at the Coaching Academy almost ten years ago, I had a background of university teaching, research, and leadership in the business that I had founded 25 years before, with ski coaching as a leisure activity. 

Since graduating from the Protégé Programme at the Academy, my clientele had largely fallen into my areas of professional experience – business owners and leaders in professional service and FMCG, plus teams in these same sectors. In other words, I was working with individuals and teams facing challenges with which I was familiar from my previous 25 years of professional life.     Whilst this knowledge and experience was a valuable backup to my role as a coach, sometimes I had to remind myself that I was engaged as a coach and not a business consultant or mentor.

Therefore, two years ago when I was approached to join a small team of coaches delivering a coaching programme to senior British Army leaders, it represented an interesting professional challenge. There were two groups of coachees:

  • Newly promoted lieutenant colonels taking up their first battalion command.
  • Chaplains within the Army Chaplaincy Service.

For the Commanding Officers, each of these officers already had a professional military experience of some twenty-plus years, and their relatively short period of battalion command (usually up to 2.5 years) is a unique leadership experience for them.  It is their opportunity to mould and develop a significant team of people to improve effectiveness and set measurable goals. After which they usually return to staff postings.

What challenged me was that based on previous professional experience, both groups were out of my comfort zone. Therefore, as I took on this key developmental role, I had to recalibrate my mindset as to the power of coaching, and the goal that I had set myself at the outset of my coaching career. Namely, “to enable the client to achieve positive and sustainable changes in their lives, careers and personal relations in ways that are faster, more effective, and more sustainable than if they were working on their own. As a result, goals are met, and desires are fulfilled. These outcomes are to be achieved by the power of a coaching process that is relationally based, client-centred, and goal-driven, with the result that the client identifies and achieves their outcomes from their internal resources.”   

My subsequent experience in the past two years of working successfully in this programme with thirty individuals has reinforced in my mind the power of the coaching 101 that I had learnt, practiced, and began to master at the outset of my time at The Coaching Academy. These basic competencies such as building rapport, effective listening, questioning, curiosity, empathy, reframing and gaining commitment were crucial in my role as a coach and were foundational in enabling these leaders to move forward in their careers and get the best out of their time in command of a battalion. These competencies also enabled me to quickly build relationships at a time of Covid enforced Zoom calls with a group of individuals whose professional place of work was different from mine and whose life experiences included the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq. Previously I had only ever coached face-to-face. Another proof of the robustness of these basics.   

I was further helped by access to the personal evaluation methodology of DiSC – another powerful tool that I first became acquainted with at the Academy. Each of these officers and chaplains had completed an online DiSC assessment, their personalised report was an invaluable jumping-off point for our sessions, increasing both their self-awareness and their awareness of others.   

To sum up, this period of coaching with Army officers has re-confirmed to me that these basic competencies are at the heart of successful coaching. Used with emotional intelligence and in conjunction with that great invitation “Please tell me more,” they enable us to build bridges into any professional or personal context. In short, they are a universal set of tools that enable us as coaches to be powerful catalysts for beneficial change in whatever profession or life experiences our client are engaged in.   Working with these officers, I was for the first time in my business and coaching career largely outside my zone of personal experience. Therefore, I was totally reliant upon these coaching skills, honed over the previous eight years with my business clientele. In addition, the opportunity to introduce coaching to these highly motivated leaders has been a rewarding privilege, as it has been to encourage them to use coaching methodologies in developing their own key leadership team.


Chris Mackel is a Coaching Academy trained coach with a specialisation in small business, executive and corporate and team coaching. He is also an NLP practitioner and a certified DiSC trainer. He is a member of the International Coaching Federation and Institute of Management Consultants.   As a coach he has worked with business owners, senior executives and teams in professional services, NHS Scotland, food and drink and FMCG sectors. He was also part of a team delivering career coaching to final-year students in a leading UK university.   He is currently part of a small team delivering coaching to senior Army leaders. Access Your Potential has developed and delivers two programmes, Connect4 and Leadership Inside Out. Focused training and coaching programmes designed to develop effective behaviours in leaders and their teams.  Chris is passionate about enabling individuals and teams reach their full potential by developing a pattern of effective behaviours.

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