Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Coaching - A Devalued Currency?

I recently resigned after 5 years as a founder member and an Honorary VP of the Association for Coaching. Not because there was anything wrong with the association or the commitment of their members but because I want to move away from coaching and the things that it's become associated with. I believe that it's a currency that has become de-valued.

I still believe that coaching and mentoring are powerful interventions that bring unique insights and change to people who are engaged in these processes. I still believe that it has a place in collaborative management and leadership - and especially so in selling where there are unique opportunities to apply it - such as after field visits and appraisals.

However when you show up at a conference and a speaker asks 'to be saved from 23 -year old 'life coaches' who can't find their way to the bathroom' I have to agree. The influx of people into coaching in the last 7 years who manage no more 'than a cup of coffee and a staring match' - the lack of structure, format and measurement of outputs, the numbers who were trained by counsellors and can't differentiate between a business imperative and a personal issue is depressing - and they're everywhere.

I still intend to continue 'coaching' but I'm searching for a better name - one that represents the kind of value that can be brought to the client during the process (and long after the process).

I define coaching as 'a collaborative partnership between a coach and a client and a system that identifies perceived obstacles, generates solutions, sets objectives and implement actions based on personal accountability' (Weafer 2001) - but lately I've started to refer to it as 'structured conversations'. Conversations that facilitate joint-insights, create plans and measures the outcomes from those plans.

I'd love to have something more succinct.

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