The article previously ran in the Q4 2022 issue of A2Zzz.
Jacinta Jiménez, PsyD (left), is an award-winning psychologist and board-certifed leadership coach, and for 15+ years has been dedicated to the betterment of people through innovative programming stemming from the latest research in positive psychology, neuroscience and motivational psychology. She is an accomplished author and was a key team member in the creation and implementation of the Anger and Irritability Management System, a mobile app produced by the Mobile Behavior Design Lab and the National Center for PTSD. Currently, she serves as the vice president of Coaching Innovation at BetterUp, a virtual coaching platform dedicated to helping people live with greater clarity, purpose and passion.
AAST Managing Editor Monica Roselli recently spoke with Jiménez on what people are looking for in a coach, how a coach can be successful and more. Hear Jiménez's thoughts on what the world of coaching looks like today and where she believes the future of the profession is heading in this Q&A.
What are people looking for in a coach? Is there anything surprising you're seeing people ask for in their search for a coach?
In essence, coaching is about partnering with another human to address mindsets, skills and behaviors toward maximizing one’s personal and professional potential. I think of it as an interpersonal conduit for cognitive and behavioral change.
We see people asking their coaches about topics that address “soft” skill development such as navigating difcult conversations, stressful situations, adjusting to expanded roles, making an important or difcult decision and setting boundaries. Ironically, these are anything but soft skills. They are human skills and they're hard. Coaching is a powerful way to personalize this skill development.
At BetterUp, we recognize that skill development does not happen in isolation — that in order to flourish and thrive as people and professionals, we need to invest in Whole Person™ development. Accordingly, we take an integrative approach to coaching and offer specialty coaching in important areas that support and accelerate “soft” skill development, such as sleep, nutrition, communication, parenting, diversity and inclusion, and grief coaching.
How can one become a successful coach? What elements and/or skills do you think coaches should be trained on/possess in order to be successful? What advice do you have for someone looking to become a coach?
In our digital world of coaching, successful coaches are the ones who maintain high standards for professionalism, ethics and member privacy. Being able to build an interpersonal relationship of trust and authenticity with a client is foundational to successful outcomes in coaching. Additionally, strong coaches are the ones who are able to zoom out and conceptualize their client from a whole person perspective by working to understand the social, environmental, cultural and systemic factors that are at play in this individual’s life. Finally, in today’s ever-changing world of work, coaches need to possess a growth mindset and have a desire to constantly grow in their self-awareness, knowledge and skills. For example, at my coaching platform, I’m working on delving into furthering the science of coaching to deepen the global understanding of coaching effectiveness, which will lead to new insights for coaches to advance their ability to help individuals make positive cognitive and behavioral changes.
I think everyone could beneft from learning core coaching skills — even if you don’t become an ofcial coach. Adopting a coaching mindset and building a coaching skill set will allow you to unlock better communication, stronger relationships and high performance in others. This lends itself to creating a culture of coaching within your organization, in which everyone feels comfortable giving and receiving feedback, and feels psychologically safe to contribute to important conversations.
What advice do you have for someone looking to build confidence in their coaching?
For someone who is looking to build confdence in their coaching, I would remind them that at the end of the day, coaching is deeply human. Effective coaching requires listening, humility and curiosity. While there are very important frameworks, tools and strategies in coaching, continuously working to master the human element (i.e., core coaching skills) cannot be underestimated or underemphasized. The good news about this? We all have these human skills in us — we just need to practice, get feedback, refne and practice again. In time, with effort, humility and curiosity, your skill set will grow. In addition, the skills, mindsets and concepts you’ll learn as a coach will help you to unlock new ways of thinking about and understanding yourself, new ways of thinking about and relating to others and new ways of approaching people and situations — it is a win all around.
For new coaches, what tips do you have for becoming receptive to feedback?
In my opinion, feedback is the ultimate gift for skill improvement and development as a coach — that’s why when we undergo coach training, supervision is a signifcant part of the experience. The biggest piece of advice I can give to coaches who are learning to get more comfortable with feedback is to choose curiosity over concern. While in the moment feedback can feel like we are doing something concerning, when we look at it through a lens of curiosity and learning, feedback can be a great way to help us grow our impact and effectiveness as a coach.
Anything else you'd like to share?
This is an exciting and critical time in the coaching industry. As the demand for coaching increases in proportion to the suffering and polarization in the world, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to step forward as the frst and industry leader in digital coaching to uphold the credibility of the craft. In other words, with increased visibility comes greater responsibility. Given that this issue is in the world spotlight, reimagining the future of coaching requires the feld to have the leadership to empower it to adapt to an ever-changing world.
This inflection point has presented an opportunity to reflect and ask ourselves an important coaching question: How might we rise to this moment and envision a future in which the integrity and credibility of the practice and profession of coaching is not only upheld but improved?
Accordingly, we’re deploying initiatives that will help our coaches with training on ethics in digital coaching, learning opportunities to elevate their craft based on science, research initiatives to help them foster their own personal resilience and new technology innovations to help them make an even bigger impact on their members.