No one has the right to define coaching, at least not in the sense of how it is done – a particular model or approach.  Coach, that is a carriage or vehicle, is a term that was taken from the town of Kocs in Hungary where the first coaches were built in the 15th Century and were called ‘carts of Kocs’. The word later emerged in the 1850s in the British universities when a coach was someone who carried you through your exams.  So that’s what it is – how they did it was not given.

That has left the world of business coaching with a significant problem because any one who purports to ‘carry others’ can call themselves a coach, regardless of how they go about it.

I tried to solve this problem in my book ‘Effective Coaching’ by defining effectiveness in coaching and suggested that, in the world of business coaching, the following outcomes could be considered a suitable yardstick: sustainable performance improvement, learning and taking responsibility.  I then went on to argue that such results could only be delivered by an approach that was predominantly ‘non-directive’.  Somewhat self-serving as an argument – but with some truth to it.

But in my world coaching is much more than that.  So much so that, increasingly, using the term deflects from my real intent as most people understand coaching to be about learning and development (not even performance).

What I find compelling is that people should learn to stand in their own two shoes, be themselves, if you like.  Or in other words discover their own autonomy and authority, free from ‘should, must and have to’, free from fear, doubt and greed.  And this is no idealism.  When people operate from a sense of their own identity or authority they achieve more, grow and experience more joy.  They are also better colleagues, team members and community members.

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