As a relatively new process there is currently little in place to determine the skills required to be a coach. Coaching communities will move towards regulation, registration and systematic organisation. Such changes have come to, for instance, career counselling, psychotherapy, osteopathy and nutritionist-dieticians. In order to establish a recognized profession with secure fee scales, this process must be seen as necessary and legitimating. Every professional coach will want to be involved to allow for new growth in this profession (UK College of Coaching).
First, professions have found it important to seek official recognition of their members efforts and their own contribution to maintaining quality. Professional coaching needs to address this reality by progressing towards official recognition. This will involve research into the productivity gains made by using a coach and the impact it has on its work community(Ibid).
Second, every profession has components of its work which involve coachingrelationships, whether between professionals and clients or between experienced professionals and the newly qualified. Systematic training in coaching may be seen to be a qualification appropriate for senior professional mentors and for the highest levels of every profession. At the top level of every profession, mature professionals aim to enhance their communication and marketing skills and to have an impact beyond their immediate workplaces. Training in coaching will increasingly be seen as one of the most effective methods of doing this (Ibid).
It is essential that research to the doctoral level and beyond becomes a component of the movement towards professionalism within the coaching community. Dr Elaine Cox of Oxford Brookes University, founder of the first European MA degree in Coaching and Mentoring, says, Coaching research links positively with university departments of education, social science and business. Based in education training, she is well aware of the process of multidisciplinary development which the profession is undergoing. The need for coaching is evident in many jobs and professions. In the UK in 2001, some 67% of all employees said they were unhappy in their jobs ((Ibid)).
The UK College of coaching suggests a possible professionaliszation process that will serve to validate the role of coaches in the community. Each of these stages provides benefits to the career coach in their understanding and the communities understanding of their role.
At the 2002 ICF world coaching conference Stober’s keynote address encouraged coaches to adopt the “scientist-practitioner model.” She called this model, “a starting point in attempting to forward our emerging profession (http://www.coachfederation.org)”. A range of developments will be required in this movement towards a scientist-practitioner model. As Grant suggests, It will mean that training courses explicitly address the theoretical and empirical foundations of coaching, and provide training in sound research methodologies, basic statistical and data analysis skills, and foster informed critical thinking skills in student coaches. This approach will provide a more solid base from which to attain the status of profession. Current experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that current coaching is inadequate often just teaching students a method rather than preparing students to understand and utilise empirically sound research. (Grant A and Cavanagh, M International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2004 Page 3)
A good example of the current weakness in coaching today is the movement of John Gray of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Once you could become a Mars/Venus consultant in which you espoused Gray’s wisdom. As his franchise has grown to a number of titles one now has the opportunity to become a Mars/Venus life coach. Although his advice may be helpful to those couples reading his book describing people who follow a single coaching methodology without a solid research framework as a life coach should raise some concern for the industry.
Stober in referring to the scientific/practitioner model suggests that as a more critical research based profession develops that coaching will gain validity available to other disciplines.
As coaches bring their “coaching eye” and their “research eye” together, a number of things become possible, she said, including: further dialogue among coach researchers, academics, professionals, associations and training organizations; a coherent body of coaching knowledge, drawn from theories and evidence in related disciplines; rigorous discussion of the definition of coaching; more coaching-specific research, with dialogue on the role of research; development of coaching-specific outlets for publication of scholarly work; and development of funding sources for coaching research.