What does a coach bring to this?

First, a coach brings his or her life experience, whether professionally or personally. The relevance of the coach's body of experience to your personal background and current situation is something you should consider.

Second, consider the coach-specific experience or training of the individual. While I have many years of experience working with, managing, or otherwise advising science and technology professionals, I learned from my certification training that "coaching" involves new knowledge, new skills, and new perspectives. It wasn't just a relabeling or refining of what I already felt I knew how to do.

My training at the Hudson Institute provided a base of knowledge about patterns of adult human behavior and about techniques that encourage new kinds of behavior to take hold (not normally the focus of a technical education). This came from assigned readings (two dozen books, some great, and some not-so-great), lectures, and then supervised practice in application. There are useful models and methods in this material; it matters. Second, (and far more demanding than just completing reading assignments), the exercises and observed coaching sessions were designed to instill in the coach-to-be a disciplined approach to helping a client build self-awareness, clarify goals and purpose, and practice new skills. The acquisition of these coaching skills is far more challenging than the simple description would suggest.

Third, consider the coach's communications style, world view, and innate ability to make sense of complex situations and identify new possibilities. These complement life experience and coaching training

The challenge in this "disciplined skill of coaching," weaving together aptitude, training, and experience, is to ensure that it’s the client who decides what is important and what direction to take, not the coach. The client leads; the coach facilitates. Unlike a boss, a friend, a colleague, or a spouse, an effective coach is invested totally in the client’s success, as the client comes to define it. "Facilitation" is an accurate term, but the leverage that I have seen effective coaching provide is far more powerful than "facilitation" would suggest.