Coaching in one form or another has been around for 40 years or more. Growing out of sports coaching and cognitive psychology originally, has coaching changed to follow the needs of an ever-changing world? In my opinion, it has in as much as it has diversified, now covering a range of specialisms and niches, but since it is not a protected title, has this proliferation devalued coaching?
Anyone can call themselves a coach, whether or not they have received accredited training. Anyone can set up a coach training school, even if they have no background in, or knowledge of adult learning, pedagogy, or neuropsychology. Are we, therefore, doing our clients a disservice unless we have received such training and unless training schools are regulated?
The world is ever-changing, and coaching needs to lead this change. However, before coaching can be seen as a profession on par with therapy, it needs to be regulated. Coaches need to ensure their training school is accredited by a reputable body, not just as a CPD/CE course, but as a qualification in its own right. Training schools need to ensure that their accreditation is up-to-date and their courses include sound pedagogical methods taking into account the diverse learning needs of their students.
Coaching In A Changing World
Coaching operates in the realm of uncertainty, especially in the business world where coaching can make a huge difference. Coaching looks to the future. It looks to facilitate change. Therefore, coaches must embrace change, keeping ahead of the game, anticipating the future, and work with ever-shifting paradigms. The future cannot be just another version of the present.
For many coaches, their work is premised on humans being rational, logical, and keen to improve. But humans are anything but rational. They are full of contradictions, often powered by irrational and conflicting emotions. They are filled with dreams and good intentions but often paralysed with fear and despair. They see the need to progress but often are held back by a lack of ambition or confidence. They want to do better and reach the top, but too often they shoot themselves in the foot.
Coaches, therefore, need to be tenacious, determined, and prepared to get their hands dirty in the world of messiness.
Coaching can make a huge difference to the lives and success of clients, but, because of lack of regulation, some coaches and coaching schools bring coaching into disrepute. Just as therapists should be registered by a governing body in the country in which they practice, so should coaches. The International Coaching Federation, The Association of Coaches, The European Mentoring and Coaching Council, and other organisations around the world are trying to establish a standard for coaching, but membership and accreditation are not obligatory.
Coaching is multi-faceted, and coach training needs to reflect this. All coaches must, as a minimum, understand psychology, sociology, and pedagogy. All coaches must keep up-to-date with new trends, learn new modalities, and take on a more systematic and holistic view of coaching.
As coaches, we would do well to follow our own advice – pause, step back, take stock and consider the role of coaching in this time of global crisis. Coaching is much more than a set of tools and models. To remain relevant and useful, coaches need to develop depth and breadth of knowledge, engender the right mindset and skills, work with the right values and beliefs that will enable them to reset the course of coaching and to stand out in the sea of sameness.
At the very least, coaches need to be able to listen deeply and reflectively and create space for exploration and discovery. How many coaches do this for themselves as well as their clients?
The Work of A Great Coach
Great coaches make space for their own exploration and discovery. Great coaches work in partnership with their clients, demonstrating their values and beliefs and opening both themselves and their clients to consciousness. By traveling along a journey of discovery with the client, great coaches can facilitate growth for both client and coach, whilst remaining morally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy.
Great coaches do not pontificate about their greed and grandiosity but demonstrate their worth and value by enabling clients to grow and transform. Great coaches are barometers of changing atmospheres, flexibly shifting their offers to anticipate the ever-changing needs of their clients. Coaching should be holistic. Taking a multi-modal approach allows great coaches to meet the needs of the clients in different ways at different times.
Great coaches would welcome a regulatory standard by which they can be assured and give assurance. Is it time for the future of coaching to have a minimum standard of practice?
Whether coaches work with individuals or businesses, their skills and expertise are in demand. Regardless of the niche chosen, they need to continue to become more specialised and keep up-to-date with current trends and training. They need to demonstrate their professionalism by joining a recognised body that enforces credentials and ongoing training. Coaches need to be able to demonstrate a great return on investment for their clients who will then testify to their ability. Great coaches don’t need to advertise. Their clients advocate for them. However, educating potential clients with regular content that speaks to their clients’ needs should be a top priority to develop a know, like, and trust relationship. Great coaches are life-long learners; whether this learning is about new coaching techniques or trends in the niche, both should be kept up-to-date to stay ahead of the competition.
The future of coaching is education.