Coaching is defined as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."  A coach seeks to maximize this potential by working with a client on his/her perceptions, self-confidence and creative drive.
Coaching services can be conducted as stand-alone, or integrated as part of training and development programs within an organization, frequently coupled with mentoring. Federal agencies, like their private sector counterparts, increasingly offer formal coaching programs to enhance the career and personal development of their leaders and employees. Additionally, most organizations now require the development of coaching skills by managers and supervisors.
While coaching may be a formal relationship between a professional coach and coachee, the development of coaching skills are increasingly seen as an essential part of effective management and leadership. Supervisors frequently use informal coaching as a management style when providing feedback to employees and facilitating effective teamwork. 
Coaching is based in a process and particular skills used by the coach, or the person using coaching skills, with the coachee. While a mentor is often expected to provide advice and guidance, both would be considered inappropriate in coaching; for the coach is not necessarily a subject-matter expert, but rather a certified professional who brings forth the process and skills of coaching techniques. Formal coaching is always predicated on a signed agreement between coach and coachee, stating the ethical standards of confidentiality, voluntariness, and self-determination, including the duration of the coaching agreement and the expectations of both parties.
Coaching and Mentoring in Government
Coaching, like Mentoring, is a ‘helping’ activity, which enables individuals to achieve their full potential. Distinct from coaching, mentoring is based primarily on the mentor's experience and knowledge, e.g. of a technical area or an organization's culture, hierarchy, or industry context.
(What are some coaching resources available to me?)
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
For those interested in learning how to coach, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers training classes through its Leadership Development and Training website.
Federal Executive Institute:
The Federal Executive Institute (FEI), a component of OPM, provides Executive Coaching Services that benefit both individual executives as well as their respective agencies. FEI coaches are competitively selected to represent a wide variety of coaching styles and needs. To request an Executive Coaching Services brochure or to obtain more information, please contact Dr. Karen Kimmel at 434.980.6230 Karen.Kimmel@opm.gov; Ms Claudia Lowe at 434.961.6403 Claudia.Lowe@opm.gov; or Ms Barbara Goldman at 434-980-6383 Barbara.Goldman@opm.gov.
(What can I learn to help me refresh my knowledge base and add value?)
American Management Association
Coaching is instrumental in maximizing learning and development. The American Management Association’s document Coaching: A Global Study of Successful Practices explains results of a survey of more than 1,000 business leaders around the world on effectiveness of coaching as a means of increasing employees’ individual productivity. These documents can be useful in developing, maintaining and evaluating your coaching programs.
Coaching in Government Group
The Coaching in Government group is entirely committed to the best practice of coaching within the Federal Government. It's objective is to bring together coaching leaders across Federal Agencies to discuss strategic challenges and opportunities related to running a coaching program while, at the same time, attending to broader goals such as collaboration between agencies, innovation in developing leaders, and identifying efficiencies within Government.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
The NCI offers executive and leadership coaching to GS-13's and above. These individuals may participate in the coaching program through self or supervisor referral. GS-13's must have supervisor approval to participate. Coaching is offered by a cadre of internal coaches that have been certified through Sherpa Coaching. For more information, contact the NCI Office of Workforce Management and Development at email@example.com.
NCI has also offered a comprehensive cohort mentoring program since 2004 for employees at all grade levels. The Knowledge Management program consists of monthly professional development sessions as well as formal mentoring relationships, and gives participants tools for professional growth over the course of one year. Participants build a strong network across the organization as they work with other members of their cohort to share best practices and lessons learned. For more information, contact the NCI Office of Workforce Management and Development at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover Helpful Tips and Resources
(What other tools and resources including guides, articles and websites are available to me?)
- Evolution of Coaching in the Federal Government:
This article explores the evolution of executive coaching and how it is used in the Federal Government.
- The Career Coach is In:
Career coach Marshall Brown writes articles for Washington Post online on how people may achieve success in their lives.
- The Federal Coach:
Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service writes a blog on Washington Post.com for Federal employees on leadership development.
 About ICF, International Coach Federation
 Formal and Informal Coaching, Wishful Thinking, http://www.wishfulthinking.co.uk/2008/01/28/formal-and-informal-coaching/