Coaching in Government

Coaching can be defined as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential." 1 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.2

Mentoring, Coaching is considered a “helping” activity, which enables individuals to achieve their full potential. While a mentor is often expected to provide advice, guidance, and subject-matter expertise, coaching is based on a process and skills used by the coach (e.g. a certified professional who brings forth the process and skills of coaching techniques) with the coachee. Furthermore, 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.

Federal Government Tools and Resources

U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

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.

The National Institutes of Health - 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

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

Also Helpful: Tom Fox from the Partnership for Public Service writes a blog on Washington (The Federal Coach) for Federal employees on leadership development.

Private Sector Tools and Resources

The American Management Association (AMA)

The AMA’s Coaching: A Global Study of Successful Practices document details survey results from more than 1,000 business leaders worldwide, on the effectiveness of coaching as a contributing factor to the individual productivity of employees. These documents can be useful in developing, maintaining and evaluating your coaching programs.

Also Helpful:

1 About ICF, International Coach Federation,

2 Formal and Informal Coaching, Wishful Thinking,