After a long day I turned on an old movie on television only to hear a commercial break a few minutes later. The break went right to a ridiculous discussion between a “life coach” and her client. Of course the vignette was meant to be comical and entertaining; however there may be some who form their opinion of the coaching profession from such presentations.
According to the International Coach Federation, professional and life coaches earned $1.5 billion in 2009 and the figure will likely go up steadily. Of course we are not talking sports here but we are talking about organizational, team, and personal development. Indeed, some do not think highly of the coaching profession and I don’t blame them if their experience is limited to an entertainment segment intended to make fun of coaches and those who hire them. Many people are skeptical of hiring a coach because they are not sure what they do.
WHAT COACHING IS…AND IS NOT
For some, their idea of coaching is of a personal mentor like Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid giving instructions, “Wax on…wax off.” For others, their idea is of a personal counselor who tells them just what they want to hear. Coaching, counseling, and mentoring certainly share some characteristics but there are distinctions.
- Coaching forms a co-active partnership that seeks to empower and equip the coachee to achieve greater competence and growth in areas they desire. The coachee is essentially healthy and able to work with the coach to partner and develop a plan for growth. In coaching, the coachee is able to co-actively establish goals for the process.
- Counseling usually involves some area of disorder, pathology, or dysfunction that essentially disables the counselee in one or more areas of life. The counselor tends to set the agenda and plan for counseling.
- Mentoring begins with a clear and set agenda for the mentee or protégé. The mentor tends to serve as a supervisor of the training by sort of looking over the shoulder of the protégé. (Simple Discipleship, 97-8), http://drthomreece.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/start-a-christian-coaching-ministry/
A competent coach brings great experience and knowledge of human relationships to bear within the collaborative relationship of the coachee. By great experience and knowledge of human relationships I do not mean the local beautician who transitioned to life coaching. Hearing many years of gossip does not train one to be a competent coach any more than watching many football games qualifies one to coach a NFL team.
There are several general coaching methodologies that are employed by a wide range of life, executive, and professional coaches: personal therapeutic coaching, personal performance coaching, organizational therapeutic coaching, organizational performance coaching, and renewal coaching whether personal or organizational. By the term “therapeutic” I do not suggest the medical definition but rather the meaning from the psychotherapy discipline that suggest “self awareness of behavior leading to improved personal growth and interpersonal relationships.” (http://www.reference.com/browse/psychotherapy?o=100074) Indeed, I am not suggesting that a professional coach is a psychotherapist but in order to demonstrate a reasonable level of competence, the coach must have an understanding of basic human behavior and relationships. (These examples are listed in Renewal Coaching by Reeves and Allison, 2009, pp. 14-17)
- Personal therapeutic coaching may tend to “tell the coachee what she wants to hear.” The focus of the coach is to help the coachee achieve their goals. Generally speaking, the coach resists challenging the goals established by the coachee. Don’t misunderstand, many coaches in this realm are able to help their clients achieve personal objectives and manage their time and relationships better.
- Personal performance coaching includes sales coaching to name one area where results of the coaching relationship are quantifiable through tracking past and future sales performance of the coachee.
- Organizational therapeutic coaching suffers from the same anomaly as its “personal” cousin—the coach tends to tell the organizational executive what they want to hear. Coaches in this realm provide short term benefit to organizations in conflict but they fail to address underlying organizational behavior problems that tend to repeat conflict. This example may be seen when big businesses go “off track” and executives lead their company to act irresponsibly. Most certainly CEOs and executives have advisors and coaches, but they may tend to be “yes men.”
- Organizational performance coaching is focused on quantifiable results and seeks to change the behavior of the organization in order to sustain improved results.
The problem with each of the listed examples is that each may provide short-term improvement and do not address the underlying foundation of behavior whether personal or organizational—values. This is where Renewal Coaching, also known as values-based coaching comes in. Don’t confuse renewal coaching or values-based coaching with evidence-based coaching. Each of numbers one through four listed above may include the evidence-based methodology that is unsustainable because foundational values remain unchanged.
RENOVA COACHING IS RENEWAL COACHING
I make it no secret that I am a Christian pastor possessing twenty years of experience dealing with human behavior and helping people change…not easy! The word “RENOVA” is a derivative of a French term “rénover” meaning “renovate” or “renewal” and is descriptive of my coaching methodology. Sustained change moves from the activator out to others in concentric circles as seen in the ripples after a small drop of water impacts the surface of a pond. Likewise, the relationship of the coach and coachee results in change activity reflected in concentric relationships for the greater good. I learned that for change to be sustainable values on which behavior is founded must change. You do what you value and you don’t do what you don’t value. The same is true of organizations whether profit or non-profit, secular or religious, private or government.
Renewal coaching seeks to form a co-active and collaborative relationship with the coachee to develop an “eyes wide open” plan for sustainable change and improvement. By “eyes wide open” I mean that the coaching relationship begins with mutual agreement on several points:
- The coach is expected to challenge values and behaviors of the coachee without the threat of retaliation of any kind.
- The co-active and collaboration activity within the relationship is expected to challenge and motivate the coachee to achieve the goals of the relationship.
- The coachee will strive to change self-defeating behaviors or circumventing the mutually agreed upon activities and goals of the coaching relationship.
- The relationship is founded on a mutual goal of improving personal and organizational performance and behavior for the greater good and not just for the coachee.
The above concepts are derived from my own work in Simple Discipleship and Reeves and Allison’s book Renewal Coaching.
When you hire a competent renewal coach, you are not hiring a yes man or an advisor who is going to tell you nice things to make you feel good. In contrast, a great coach will challenge your status quo and it takes a mutual partnership to overcome inertia. Please, don’t shoot the messenger. Many business executives, professionals, and politicians wish they had not.
Renewal Coaching: Sustainable CHANGE for Individuals and Organizations by Douglas B. Reeves and Elle Allison, Josey-Bass Publisers, 2009.
Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century by Tom Cocklereece, Church Smart Resources, 2009.
Co-Active Coaching:New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Laura Whitworth, Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl, Davies-Black Publishing, Mountain View, CA, 2007.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece
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