In human development childhood implies a dependence on others for all of the child’s needs. It cannot exist without the support of others and requires a healthy adult perspective to allow the child to gain a correct understanding of its world. Correct childhood development is also seen as vital for the future health of the individual. To grow to be a healthy adult requires the correct diet, discipline and love. As an industry coaching is very much in its childhood and at this point leans heavily on a range of disciplines from which it gains its understanding of the world. Its composition is new in meeting the changing educational and work needs of today’s generation.
In its current entrepreneurial stage there is little regulation and often conflicting methodologies. Many aspects of coaching have been around for a long time. Others seem to rest on a great deal of hype and a bit of snake oil. For example Robbin’s seminars allow his participants to walk on hot coals. This exercise’s long term benefits are questionable and in the short term may just be simply dangerous.
Surrounding the current crop of coaching stars there is much hype and perhaps overstating of actual gains that are possible. Being part evangelist and part management guru places enormous pressure on the super coaches to produce results. They do not usually appear obligated to produce empirical results rather relying on a long list of anecdotal testimonials. These usually say more about the person than their methodology and results. The implication for the everyday coach is that they may also feel obligated to overstate the possible benefits from engaging a coach to assist them in some area of their life.
Whether from one of the super coaches or less well known names there is a plethora of literature available for the aspiring coach or a person desiring to be coached. Many follow fairly familiar well worn paths that have not varied much from such success icons as Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking, or Dale Carnegies, How to Win Friends and Influence People
As long as coaching was practiced as an extension of the North American self help movement, it seemed justified to be content with anecdotal evidence that coaching processes work.In the 21st century, given the above tenets, this stance on the ROI of coaching is becoming less and less justifiable. It is also less and less welcomed by organisations looking for explicit proof of coaching effectiveness. If behaviour change is indeed one of the foremost goals of coaching, then neglecting findings on behaviour and the developmental roots of behaviour is a risky course of action indeed.
The current immaturity of this industry allows the title of coach to be attached to anyone who so desires. This situation is untenable and will require future coaches to be involved in considerable upskilling if professionalism is to be attained in the industry. Some concern must be expressed at the damage that may occur if coaches without a strong ethical and professional framework offer advice that is outside their personal limitations. By nature the claims that a coach must make if they are to be regarded as effective can lead to overstatement of their capabilities. Such claims could lend itself to the coaches giving erroneous advice and the exaggerated participants expectations of s success.
Future implications for coaching
- Recognised post graduate levels of coaching .This is already beginning with an increasing doctoral, masters, and undergraduate coaching qualifications being offered at recognised tertiary institutions.
- Recognised professional level required to use the word coach. A coherent framework of ethic and professional standards is required and the current range of names coaches take on. Depending on one’s educational level and field of expertise a variety of terms are used to describe coaching.
- Gale et al report that the titles most often used by coaches include Personal Coach, Executive Coach, Life Coach and Business Coach. Coaches with Master degrees most frequently refer to themselves as Business Coaches, Consultants, Executive Coaches, Personal Coaches, and Developmental Coaches; coaches with Bachelor degrees use the titles, Professional Coach, Mentor and Life Coach, and coaches with Doctoral degrees use the titles, Mentor and Developmental Coach most frequently. The wide variety of coach titles indicates indicate the different perceptions coaches have for their roles, the diversity of their emphasis and the lack of any framework for assuming the title of coach. This is indicated in the coaching world by many different names for what appear to be very similar intentions.
- To simplify, and perhaps clarify the field of coaching, it seems necessary to significantly reduce the number of titles used by coaches, and at the very least, to define the differences between each title (Executive Summary Coaching Practices, Gale, Liljenstrand, Pardieu and Nebeker (2002)).
- Effective tools researched and used.Coaching must move beyond the personal hype of the superstars that focuses on the coach. It must also reflect more personalisation than a simple computer based audit of one’s skills.
Sydney University’s coaching unit incorporates a unit on the use of many such tools. They include the Myers Briggs assessment instrument. Etc.
- Rigorous ongoing professional development for example if one specialised in the area of career coaching then it is to be expected that in the current rapidly changing work environment that there be ways to ensure currency in the coaching practice.
The coaching industry is at a critical stage. The determination of whether it is just a passing fad or the guarantee of its future success is likely because of the quality and professionalism of coaches and their ability to deliver demonstrable value to their clients. If coaching is to become a true profession, further research into the effectiveness, business benefits and value of different coaching methodologies is crucial.
Neil Offley, Programme Director at the NHS Leadership Centre, comments: ‘We hope that evaluation and research will help show how coaching can deliver real benefits, and overcome a perception of it being the latest fad.’ As the coaching market continues to grow and mature, a number of trends are likely to appear. Jerry Arnott, Managing Director of Origin Consulting, states:
‘I believe there will be a consolidation of coaching providers and increased regulation and standardisation across the market. This is long overdue and there are already signs of this evolution as the coaching profession begins to address the fundamental issues of ethics, standards, accreditation and quality.’ (Quoted from CIPD Buying Coaching Services p.15)
This will mean for many coaches the sacrificing of some of the current freedoms to serve the greater good of coaching as a developing profession. The adoption of measures such as accreditation, a code of ethics and accredited methodologies will eliminate the some of the current inconsistencies in the discipline.