Some Meditations on My Approach to Coaching
Is coaching effective for change and growth?
What approaches are better and more effective in creating and sustaining change?
What theoretical perspective provides a foundation for an evidence-based approach?
By linking coaching practice with existing, applicable knowledge bases of science and practice, we can formulate principles at the level of conjecture with plausible credibility.
I am developing a cross-disciplinary, integrative coaching methodology explicitly grounded in the broader academic knowledge base.
I have integrated theoretical frameworks and practices from the behavioral and social sciences; organizational change and development; psychoanalytic therapy; cognitive and behavioral psychology; adult education; business and economic phantasy literature.
I am presenting the resulting model, maps, and theoretical frameworks in this handbook to be freely drawn upon to understand the human condition at the present moment in history and work with human behavior in emancipatory praxis.
The Nature of Coaching
The aim of executive or life coaching is sustained cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes that facilitate goal attainment and performance enhancement, either in one’s work or personal life.
Views on the coaching process vary in the directiveness dimension concerning the extent to which they emphasize teaching or direct instruction as opposed to facilitating self-directed learning.
An instructional approach emphasizes imparting information through tutoring or instruction to improve performance and develop skills immediately.
A facilitative approach defines coaching as helping a client see options for becoming a more effective human being.
Coaching is a directed, systematic process, typically directed at fostering the ongoing self-directed learning and personal growth of the client.
This places the coach as a person who facilitates experiential learning that results in future-oriented abilities, as someone trained and devoted to guiding others into increased competence, commitment, and confidence.
Underpinning the coaching process are the principles guiding effective adult learning: the recognition that adult learners are autonomous, have a foundation of life experiences and knowledge from which they can generalize, have the readiness to learn and engage in reflective practice, and wish to be treated with respect.
Common core themes of coaching approaches include a collaborative and egalitarian rather than an authoritarian relationship between coach and client; a focus on constructing solutions and goal attainment processes rather than solely analyzing problems; the assumption that clients do not have clinically significant mental health problems; an emphasis on collaborative goal setting; and the recognition that although coaches have expertise in facilitating learning through coaching, they do not necessarily need high levels of domain-specific expertise in the client’s chosen area of learning.
In managerial organizations, an executive client has managerial authority and responsibility. With Kilburg (2000), Executive coaching is a helping relationship formed between an executive client and a coach who uses a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to assist the client in achieving a mutually identified set of goals to improve their professional performance and personal satisfaction and consequently to improve the effectiveness of the client’s organization within the formally defined coaching agreement.
Learner Identity and Experiential Learning
There are several fundamental questions humans have repeatedly asked. The way we approach these questions reveals a particular kind of knowledge. Trying to make sense of this knowledge, we have created maps. We use these maps to share our meanings and experience with others; to connect.
I invite you to let go of the one answer and realize that many states of being can be authentic.
I invite you to this work to discover practical strategies you can use to be at the top of your game to succeed beyond what you thought possible.
I invite you to take on the right attitude, embrace needed skills, implement processes to be effective, and increase and expand your knowledge.
You may struggle with knowing what to do or wonder what systems and processes work. Try on an experiment; try on a Monday Mission; try on a 2-minute morning practice; use discipline; use what is known about increasing grit or creating and sustaining mental toughness; and build your courage and persistence.
Acquire appropriate skills to support your goals; decide to acquire these skills, and don’t just wait to get them by luck. Either way, it helps to have mentors, resources, perseverance, and focus.
Who are your mentors? What resources do you have or could make use of, if needed? What motivates you to persevere? How do you hold focus?
Toward an Informed-Practitioner Model of Professional Coaching
A working understanding of research principles and methodologies enables the informed practitioner to apply informed critical thought to the evaluation of their practices, to draw on relevant academic literature to design and implement evidence-based interventions with their clients and to evaluate client progress while adhering to ethical practice.
For theoretical utility in a scientific endeavor, we want explanations of underlying causes and empirically falsifiable predictions. Explanation facilitates understanding. Understanding is needed to enhance control. Control is needed for effective intervention design and implementation. Empirically supported hypotheses lead to predictions; research-based theoretical propositions underlie explanations; using predictions and explanations, we can design practical applications and interventions to reach the ultimate goal of accelerated leader development.
The theory-building process moves through the phases of speculation, prediction, evaluation, revision, etc. General theoretical propositions are considered at the construct level; specific research hypotheses are at the level of measurable variables.
What is Evidence-Based Coaching?
The evidence-based approach is based on the underlying assumption that translating research evidence into practice optimizes outcomes. It is professional coaching explicitly grounded in the broader empirical and theoretical knowledge base. The term evidence-based refers to the intelligent and conscientious use of the best current knowledge integrated with practitioner expertise in deciding how to deliver coaching to individual coaching clients and designing and teaching coach training programs.
The informed-practitioner model provides theoretical frameworks, information, critical thinking, and methodological rigor that the practitioner can use to navigate the ever-changing waters of the coaching intervention. It is theoretically based, empirically grounded coaching to meet the real needs of coaching clients.
Best current knowledge is up-to-date information from relevant, valid research, theory, and practice. The informed practitioner coach draws on such existing knowledge, adapts and applies this knowledge, and in the light of their reflective practice, develops grounded frameworks that further inform their work with clients.
I take the humanistic perspective as an underlying philosophical foundation of coaching for my coaching practice.
I take the behavioral perspective as a model for building clients’ capacities for effective behavior.
I am informed by the Constructive-Developmental Framework and constructivist theories of adult development in my developmental assessment work with clients, particularly the Subject-Object Interview for social-emotional development assessment and the Dialectical Thinking Interview for cognitive development assessment.
I take adult learning theories of transformative and experiential learning as guiding principles in facilitating the coaching process.
I use positive psychology research and theory to design and implement evidence-based interventions with clients.
What is the Invitation about?
You know all this, and you already have all you need for your positive growth and flourishing; most of it you have already, anyway, or at arms reach at least.
So, no information or know-how, 5-step formula, personal wisdom, or secret there is I could possibly provide that would make a difference.
No, this is not about any content, so useful to claim that it will blow your mind, boost your creativity, and become a stepping stone to your success.
This is an invitation to slow down, even stop, and look closely for what it would mean to be fulfilled; in your selfhood, and together, for each one of us, and for all of us.
This is just an invitation to take a walk in the garden together.
You can expect words of encouragement and goodwill from me;
I will look for the spark of hope and of will to take the next step to create a world that works for all;
I will take delight when you lift up, and I will take pride in your moral courage to say yes or no at the moment when a stand is what can carry the world above the waterline.
I will listen for your greatness and what is wonderful, powerful, and great in you;
I invite you to listen for the greatness in yourself and others.
How does coaching work? What outcomes can I expect?
We will work together for you to achieve your goals, enhance your life experience, enhance your work performance, develop and enhance resilience, and develop your positive psychological capacities.
I hopefully will make no grandiose claims for myself, for what we can achieve together, or for what results you may expect.
I assume you understand what coaching is and what it can do for you.
One of our initial tasks is to establish the expected results and outcomes of coaching; how we will measure them, track them, and report them, i.e., we will establish a rationale for coaching.
In our introductory conversation, we may explore what type of coaching I provide, whether and how it would benefit you, and if you are up for it.
As part of our agenda-setting in coaching, I encourage you to set and strive for personally meaningful goals.
The end goal of our collaborative coaching relationship is, first and foremost, goal attainment. Wellbeing is often a byproduct of the goal-striving process.
What is Developmental Coaching About?
‘freshpractice’ is a leadership development and coaching vision. I aspire to specialize in the process called actualization. I aspire to teach people how to think better for themselves.
I will support you in cultivating your leadership potentials. How will I do that?
The developmental approach in our coaching takes the whole person as the center of our concern and attention. With an integrative framework to make sense of the many aspects of the personal inner landscape, our coaching puts light on abilities and resources already available or ready to emerge through challenge and support, resulting in lasting change and deep insight for the client.
Behavior training focuses on the external domain of experience, on the external aspect of reality. Externally we can point to many different skill levels in a field of human endeavor.
Looking internally, we may discern correspondingly many different levels of growth.
Our developmental approach is focused on this internal domain from which behavior emanates.
I use constructive-developmental theory with leader development, which is, from a broader perspective, adult development.
The inner transformation from an interpersonal concordance orientation to a societal orientation and further to a universal principles orientation (Kohlberg’s stages of moral development) and the corresponding evolution in meaning-making and sense-making is accompanied by a real concern for a meaningful personal vision, deeply held values; and a shift from adhering to a socially given compass for right behavior to an internal self-authored one.
Our main concern is what influences individual behavior, teamwork, and organizational dynamics.
Our coaching interaction creates openings to layers of energy and information flow. The form of this flow of energy and information contributes to the formation and transformation of structures at all the layers and inner dimensions. These layers and dimensions include behavioral skill and performance; self-regulation and identity; self-awareness, self-development, and reflective judgment.
We will use and adopt developmental theories to guide our coaching work for meaningful and effective individual developmental change.
The essential elements of developmental theories involved include main concepts and assumptions about human nature; the view on conditions for human development; obstacles to development; essential processes and dynamics; tasks and goals of the tradition; the role of the coach, and the relationship with the client; methods and techniques for facilitation of change and development.