In recent years, coaching has become a buzzword, especially within leadership circles, but there are still many misconceptions about what it is. Here are three key things to know about coaching:

1. Coaching is for performance development and enhancement — not for remediation.

Athletes have coaches to help improve their performance so that they can win matches and break records — even if it’s their own personal records. Even if you are at the top, you can still challenge yourself and continue to grow. A coach will help keep you focused on your goals, and the process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.

2. Coaching is often confused with other modalities like consulting and mentoring, but there is one big differentiator.

In consulting and mentoring, someone else is the expert. A consultant offers advice and possible solutions. A mentor provides wisdom and guidance. In coaching, you are the subject matter expert. You set your objectives and goals, although a coach can help you ensure they are actionable, and the results are measurable. Then, you tap into yourself and do the work required to create the outcomes you seek.

A coach is an expert in the coaching process. It is their role to create a safe, non-judgmental space for you to clarify your goals and explore creative solutions. A coach is also there to keep you accountable to the goals you’ve set and to motivate you when you need it.

3. Coaching is confidential (even if it’s employer-paid).

Coaching can be a deeply personal and private experience. Having a confidential, safe space is crucial for the process to work and allows you to be fully open, vulnerable and authentic with yourself. That’s why what you discuss during a coaching session remains between you and your coach — even if your organization pays for your coaching engagement. Members and Credential-holders of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) have made an ethical pledge to maintain client confidentiality. When you decide to seek a coach, you will want to ensure that they are committed to your privacy.