A coach can be many things to their client: they can clarify, identify, help create objectivity, they can be a cathartic influence; they can help with goal-setting and much, much more.
One aspect of coaching however that might be overlooked is one that is particularly useful when working inside a large organisation:
The role of being a mirror.
When coaches work with people who have gained a position of some standing as a result of their experience and success, we discover how much they have to offer over and above their professional expertise.
People who live, work and build a good career don’t do so solely through their skills and specialist knowledge; they also achieve it through dealing with others throughout their lives; by listening, learning, delegating, training and encouraging others.
In short: most people who gain a measure of success in business gain a measure of wisdom along the way.
In coaching someone who has a bit of life experience it’s worth bearing in mind that they may not see themselves as being particularly wise or knowledgeable in the broad sense, so it can be a positive step for the coach to listen first (of course) but then to give back to the client a little of their own wisdom – perhaps paraphrasing or re-interpreting it.
This is a powerful means of gaining empathy and engagement, but also a great tool in allowing the client to realise that they have assets and insights of their own, if only they would recognise these and be prepared to act on them.
In a way, re-phrasing the client’s own words is like using metaphor. Perhaps it’s something other coaches do naturally, or unconsciously.