What is Coaching? Description
Coaching can be described as a method and technique which can be used for
guiding an individual to new learning in defined time frames.
There are many definitions for coaching. With so many varying and contradictory
definitions, it has been suggested that entering the debate of defining coaching
is at this present time an exercise in abstraction (Jackson, 2005). Even prolific
academic writers (Clutterbuck and Megginson, 2005) change their viewpoint,
indicating that the field is still developing and fluid. As far back as 1994,
Garvey (1994) refers to 'one-to-one helping' and thus proposes the concept
of redefining the term, with the almost Esperanto-like hope that 'one-to-one
helping' might be the rebirth of a muddied term which though effective in
descriptor terms is not 'sticky' in branding terms.
Some writers have suggested that mentoring is the model for coaching and
that mentoring, as a working title is too formal. They utilize the word coach
as it is a more readily palatable (Hudson, 1999). More recently, in a heroic
attempt to create some form of cohesion within this confused vista, we see
that prominent writers in the field are not happy to accept either activity
as a subset of the other. They state categorically that the distinctions between
these two terms causes confusion and that the community should start to move
to an agreed Coach-Mentor term (Parsloe & Wray, 2005).
Coaching definitions can be as simple and inclusive as, ‘the process
of empowering others’ (Whitmore, 1997). Or more definitive: ‘a process
that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve'.
To be a successful Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process
as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate
to the context in which the coaching takes place’ (Parsloe, 1999). Perspective
also plays a huge part in the interpretation of an individual contributors
definition. Mentors view coaching as predominantly skills-related,
with specific capabilities linked to outcome (Cranwell et al, 2004). The coach
shifts the focus to the results of the job (Megginson and Clutterbuck, 1995)
and a primary focus on performance within the current job and emphasizes the
development of skills (Clutterbuck, 2004).
Definitions by coaches have developed over the years. From the somewhat
quaint, potentially dangerous and insular belief that the ‘most important
aspect of coaching is being accepted, respected and taken care of, rather
than the exchange of information between the coach and the coachee’ (Olalla,
1998). To the business definition that pronounces that ‘coaching is an enabling
process to increase performance, development and fulfillment’ (Alexander &
Renshaw, 2005). Interestingly, Megginson (1988) as far back as 1988 proffers
the view that coaching is more effective in a person’s development if actioned
at specific stages. Thus in the context of the business world coaching is
more role, job and project specific (Williams, 2000). If we follow this line
of thought that specific interventions at appropriate times in a persons development
is the most effective methodology, then a review of the broad range of coaching
interventions is required. And we will see that what is new, is that coaching
has amalgamated psychology, sports psychology and education (Zeus & Skiffington,
2000), and is now busy building ‘marketability and credibility’.
Origin of Coaching. History
The term ‘coach’ is first seen in the 1500’s referring to a method of carriage,
actually a horse drawn vehicle, originating in the small Hungarian town of
Kócs (pronounced "koach"). In the mid 1850’s the word coach was utilized in
English universities referring to a person who aided students in exam preparation
(Zeus and Skiffington, 2005) and appears to have links with "cramming" apparently
recalling the multitasking skills associated with controlling the team of
a horse-drawn stagecoach (Wikipedia, 2005). Coaching sees it's roots in
Humanistic Psychology (Zeus & Skiffington, 2000), focusing on a persons
dignity and intrinsic value.
Coaching in the Business World
As the Humanist movement started to emerge we begin to see a parallel emergence
of coaching within the business world, which can be seen within peer reviewed
journals. Gorby (1937) describes older employees coaching new employees to
reduce waste, so as to achieve a performance bonus. Bigelow (1938) recounts
Sales Managers coaching sales people. Mold (1951) reported a 'manager as coach'
program. Hayden (1955) argued that 'follow up' coaching improved appraisals.
Mahler (1964) indicated the difficulties of organizations getting their managers
to be effective coaches. Gersham (1967) evaluated the effect of supervisors
on 'attitude & job performance'. Tobias (1996) reports on a technically 'excellent'
44 yr old manager, who is coached on 'soft skills'. Though reported in ‘peer
reviewed journals’ the referrals are predominantly ‘case studies’ and ‘comment’
as opposed to rigorous analytical works such as the more recent study by the
Manchester Consulting Group (Zeus & Skiffington, 2005). This group reports
a 5.7 times ROI in regard to a coaching program launched between 1996-2000.
Also the research focus was geared towards a manufacturing biased as this
was the financial powerbase at the time and the concepts of ‘empowered workforces’
and ‘human capital’ other than an operational resource was yet to emerge.
Ostensibly the ‘life coaching’ concept demonstrated the first, by
modern definitions, coaching like activity, in a program aimed at high school
dropouts. This work at the forefront of the war on poverty commenced in the
1950’s from a YMCA-sponsored training program in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn,
N.Y. Its aim was to search for more powerful counseling/learning methods in
helping people learn the psychological and social skills for coping with the
predictable developmental problems of life (Adkins, 2006). Towards the end
of the 60's research became more rigorous (Grant & Cavanagh, 2004). This focus
on more academic methodologies was the catalyst for the credibility required
by the more progressive commercial bodies. And as such the birth of executive
& business coaching emerged from leadership Programs in the 1980's (Zeus &
The real breakthrough of Coaching came with the mix of sports and the
business world, virtually re-inventing itself. Tim Gallwey (1974) with
his Inner Game of Tennis, was a primary catalyst for coaching in a business
context with the quick succession of other notable sports-coaches, such as:
John Whitmore (champion racing driver), David Hemery (Olympic Hurdles Medalist),
and David Witaker (Olympic Hockey Coach).
Coaching in it's modern guise was born out of the Constructionist Learning
Theory (Williams & Irving, 2001), with a core belief that there is no
single, true interpreter or interpretation of reality (Zeus & Skiffington
2005). One can see the birth of coaching from principles that state: we ‘all
construct our own understanding of the world we live in, through reflection
on our experiences’. And interestingly with the 1990's seeing what some believe
to be an upsurge in ‘quasi-philosophical’ groups, finding particular favor
with those involved in management and communications development (Parsloe
& Wray, 2005), it is possible to see how phenomenon's such as NLP (Grinder
& Bandler, 1989) have ‘cherry picked’ from such areas such as Constructionist
theory, Bateson’s (2000) Cybernetics, Chomsky’s (1972) Language Theory and
Landamatics (Landa, 1974). It is this ‘cherry pick’ approach and the demands
of a commercial corporate world that has generated the call for a ‘scientist-practitioner
model of coaching’, where a more academic and rigorous methodology will act
as a benchmark and validation of the field. For many coaching is a long way
from being a profession, despite the existence of those that coach professionally
(Grant, 2003b). The current concerns of definition and validity can be explained
by a profession that has ‘converged’ rather than ‘emerged’ onto its current
Usage of Coaching. Applications
- Business Coach.
- Executive Coach.
- Life Coach.
- Performance Coach.
- Sports Coach.
- Workplace Coach.
Steps in Coaching. Process
Not universally agreed.
Strengths of Coaching. Benefits
- The predominant benefit of coaching to the individual and business is
the facilitation of self-directed learning. Though learning is enabled via
a coach, the true underlying benefit of coaching is in the ability of the
individual to 'move on' from the experience as a more able contributor.
- In terms of retaining and developing talent studies indicate considerable
advantages to companies that actively encourage coaching during transition/change
- ROI for coaching is considerably higher than standard classroom training,
especially in the executive community, where studies show they disconnect
up to 30 quicker than middle tier staff.
Limitations of Coaching. Disadvantages
- Coaching is not therapy. If it is then the coachee can become dependent.
- Can be seen as a prestige position in a business and thus can create
a cliché of coaches and political influencers.
- Try telling your boss he's a crap coach!
Assumptions of Coaching. Conditions
- Coaching really pulls on the idea of Malcolm Knowles and 'Adult Learning',
which in essence says that the individual has responsibility for their own
learning and all engagements, should be 'guided, rather than led'.
- This is an incredibly complicated topic, for such a simple thing. The
reason being that coaching itself is not by definition a model, models such
as GROW, are the tools of coaching.
- Currently there are no central models that offer a universally accepted
Book: Zeus & Skiffington
- The Coaching at Work Toolkit -
Book: Mary Beth
O'Neill - Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart -
Book: Bruce Peltier
- The Psychology of Executive Coaching -
||Coach People's Strengths or Weaknesses?
"Coaching people's strengths I find is much more effective than coaching their weaknesses. Working on a strong usually preferred area is more motivating than concentrating on something that perhaps they are avoiding, quite often for good reason, they're not good at it.
I encourage my clients to work with people who have different skills than themselves and compliment each other, and to develop their own strong skills.
The area of professional sport always has great examples: Beckham's coach wouldn't encourage him to develop his goal-keeping skills but to highly refine his passing, play-making and dead ball skills and to play(work) with someone else who is a good goalkeeper!"
"An effective coach is a skilled and knowledgeable individual who understands that all individuals, if they are not already achieving their true desires, are offering some form of resistance in terms of the vibe that they are sending out relative to their thoughts on the subject in question.
Therefore the role of the effective coach is to facilitate the individual in recognising the non-constructive pattern(s) of thought, developing in them an understanding of their emotional guidance system, and then working with them on strategies to become more consistent conscious creators of the experiences they truly desire, using a range of tools and techniques that work for them."
||Rational Emotional and Behavioral Therapy: REBT
"The theory of REBT has been developed by Albert Ellis in 1955. Albert Ellis was not satisfied with the type of therapy he was trained in at that moment. Therefore, he experimented with different therapeutic models, being inspired by philosophers such as Epictetus, Rusell and Aurelius.
REBT was actually established in several steps:
1. Rational Therapy (RT). First, Ellis developed an approach called Rational Therapy (RT) since he was willing to stress both rational and cognitive features.
2. Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET). In 1961 Ellis made some adjustments to the model and called the result Rational-Emotive Therapy (RET), thereby showing his opponents that he certainly did not overlook the importance of emotions.
3. Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). For the same reason he named a further developed version Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
REBT is a psychotherapy that focuses on finding solutions to both emotional and behavioral problems so that people are able to live a happier life. The theory is based on the ABC-model in which A means an Activating event, B means Beliefs and C means Consequences of having a certain belief about event A.
Note that A is not a cause of C, it just contributes to C.
According to the theory:
- Healthy emotions, practical behavior and realistic thoughts will be created by having rational beliefs about A.
- On the contrary, irrational beliefs are seen as the major cause of dysfunctional emotional and behavioral consequences.
REBT Theory distinguishes four different types of rational beliefs:
1. Rigid versus flexible beliefs
2. Extreme versus non-extreme beliefs
3. Acceptance versus depreciation beliefs
3. High versus low frustration tolerance beliefs
REBT-theory says that all people have the ability to think both rationally and irrationally. Irrational thinking is biologically determined, but the environment is able to change or encourage the way of thinking.
REBT is both optimistic and realistic by arguing that clients are able to counter irrational beliefs into behavior compatible with their rational beliefs when continuously working hard. But the theory also recognizes that the majority will not put enough effort; as a result they will not achieve their psychological health.
Source: Dryden, W. (2005). “Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. “ Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, pp 321-324."
||The Coach is a Facilitator for Self-Findings
"Coaching is not about teaching people, but it is a process of facilitating the coachee to dig out his/her own hidden talents and anxiety via psychological counseling techniques."
||Has Coaching Become Too Technical?
"I have been researching coaching for a number of years - partly in the hunt for the 'simple but effective' set of tools. The more I read, the more I seem to get confused.
In my early learning of coaching, it was quite straightforward - grow and a set of quality interpersonal skills. The results were successful with my clients and life was good.
I ventured into a level 7 executive coaching and mentoring qualification and fear I am losing the plot. So much so that I have had coaching supervision to get back to what I do best as opposed to what others think we should be doing.
For the majority of jobbing coaches working with middle managers, has coaching become too technical?"
||Raising Productivity by Coaching
"Be patient + be patient + be patient = success in coaching, but it is too hard to raise the productivity by coaching only.
There are too many factors involved to increase the productivity and there are too many theories we have to apply.
I spent 12 years in the banking industry and unfortunately I did not find which theory will work with employees + management + my believes.
We should use most of the theories or at least know all of them to determine the best way to deal with employees and get the most productivity through them.
One of my friends from the USA in the banking industry once told me something very nice and useful, but it is not scientific statement:
He said: Nowfal, you have to say to your employee the following sentence and leave them to get the results:
"Folks show me the money to get the honey!"
When I tried to use it, half of the staff returned to me and agreed to coaching."
||Coaching has Qualitative and Quantitative Aspects
"Mentoring and coaching both have qualitative and quantitative aspects.
For example, using multiple data collection tools during my research resulted in verbal and numerical data; that is qualitative and quantitative data. The data was obtained via questionnaires, observations, interviews and journal reflections, using close-ended or likert-type ratings and open-ended responses or comments.
Applying the mixed approach to get information about participants' feelings about the mentoring-coaching initiative, and the changes they experienced was useful. In addition, the mixed method was helpful to corroborate the results, and fostered a high degree of reliability and validity of results. The results showed the necessity of sharing in the learning community to improve practice.
However the most important aspects to me were qualitative: the voices of the participants as they supported and shared with each other. Instead of only stating how many would recommend coaching, they explained how and why they would."
||Leader Must make Decisions
"Ramos said: 'No authority shall rule over reason, on the contrary the mind must prevail over the authority to manage it'.
Therefore a wise leader should consider others opinion, especially experts' view, and then make the best decision, which may increase his or her authority."
||Coaching Reduces Wastage
"Besides increasing productivity, coaching can also reduce wastage. When a corporation or organization hires coaches to developed their participants that creates more cost effectiveness than any other procedure."
||Qualities of a Good Coach. Checklist
"The importance of coaching cannot be underestimated. However, identifying a good coach is far from easy. Here's a checklist of quailities for a good coach I recommend:
- More knowledgeable in the area
- Humble enough to accept corrections from the coachee
- Maintains a professional relationship with the coachee
- Is able to identify and weaken the 'sleeping giant' in the coachee
- Maintains records of appraisals in respect of coaching
- Listens to and observes verbal and non verbal communication from the coachee
- Knows that the coachee is not in 'tabula raza' but one who knows
- Respects the concerns of the coachee
- Communicates to the supervisors of the coachee
- Maintains confidentiality and protection of dignity of the coachee
- Prepares the coachee for transition from the current state to the next
- Empowers the coachee to coach others in the future."
||Problems with Definition of Coaching
"Overly broad definitions of coaching (and mentoring too) plague discussions around these two topics:
- Coaching can be remediation or developmental, goal-specific or general in coverage, conducted internally or by an outside consultant, by a leader/boss or by someone neutral, behaviorally- or psychologically-oriented. Each has different goals, expectations, usages, value, etc.
- Likewise mentoring -- it might be conducted by someone in the same industry or not, in the same company or not, with specific or general goals, by an outsider or not, etc.
Another way of saying this is that the statements about both fields phrased in general terms without context subject the field to either misunderstanding by those in the field and outside, ridicule, avoidance (by people and organizations that can benefit form either) or worse."
||Business Coach must be Holistic
"I agree with the most comments. And as business coaches we have to know more about strategy/operations, people management, self management and communication. We have to have a more holistic view and that`s why our job is a challenging one."
||Coaching BY Managers and Leaders
"I've been a long time manager in multinational companies and I am since 8 years a self-employed business coach. As a professional coach I support my coachees in finding their own solution of their own problems. Their solution is completely neutral to me.
Managers and leaders can use coaching methods and attitudes to help and facilitate their co workers to find solutions for their problems and questions. By definition a leader can´t be a coach as such solutions must be accepted by the leader - he/she is not in a neutral position.
So coaching from a leader's perspective facilitates solution focused thinking, participation and "growing" of the coworker - if the leader wants to develop the coworker. In some cases leading is the preferred method (e.g. emergency situations, new co workers, single time opportunities, etc.)."
||Why Leaders Need Coaching
"Leaders must be very conscious of their actions and of the impact they have on others. Coaching is an excellent tool to gain consciousness. Any other reasons why coaching is particularly useful for leaders?"
||Use of the Body in Coaching
"What do you think about those coaching approaches which uses the body to generate awareness and to develop soft skill? Are they acceptable in your culture? Do they fit in corporate coaching?"
||Dissertation Support on Effectiveness of Training
"In a month or so, I am starting research for my MBA dissertation on the effectiveness of training; the readiness of the learner; the environment and role of the company in learning, whether learning can be enhanced and how as well as considering the role, type and activities of the coach/ trainer. In order to carry this research out, I am looking for a host organisation; either consultancy company, training company or large organisation with an internal training department to base the research on, gain access to personnel etc... And maybe just gain some useful experience so that I can further network and gain employment at the end of it... Is anyone interested? Thanks, Joe."
||Does Business Coaching Really Work?
"Hypothesis: coaching helps the coachee (and his team) to perform significantly better in achieving business objectives.
Is this a dream or a fact? Experience?"
||Mentoring versus Coaching
"Mentoring has high interest for me. Based on my observation and that of other officers, a great gap exists in planning and delivery. So mentoring should help to improve teacher competencies. A more experienced expert will work with a novice or inexperienced teacher. On the other hand, a coach could include an expert, a supervisor or even a colleague."
||Teacher Professional Development (TDP) Models
"I came across several teacher professional development (TPD) models outlining ways and means to engage teachers as learners on site. The one I find most useful is the observation/assessment model that might incorporate peer coaching or mentoring, but with the added benefit of sharing data and reflection to develop quality instructional practice."
||Coaching and Pedagogy
"I would like to see the difference between coaching and the roman concept of pedagogical leading.
To me, the difference could be the knowledge the coach should have about the strenghts of the coachee"
Coaching Special Interest Group
Coaching Education & Events
Compare with Coaching: Mentoring
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