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Coaching: The global perspective

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Coaching is still a young profession, but with a Global Convention on Coaching and a 'statement of shared professional values', in 2008 it seemed to be growing up fast. But for all the hype and excitement at the time, Christiana Tollast asks, what, if anything, has been achieved since?

With a Global Convention on Coaching and key UK coaching bodies signing a 'statement of shared professional values', 2008 seemed a ground breaking year for this emerging industry.

Photo of John McGurk"Because everybody signed up to the statement of shared values about continuous professional development, appropriate membership of an accredited body, and indemnity insurance, coaching buyers can start to say, 'look, we want people that are actually accredited'."
John McGurk, CIPD

The convention's laudable desire was to establish more defined codes of ethics, standards of practice and qualifications within the coaching industry.

It came up with the 'Dublin declaration' setting a deadline of 2008 to agree an 'International Best Practice Competency Framework', and a statement of shared values citing that 'every coach needs to abide by a code of governing ethics'. So, can the coaching industry now boast greater guarantees of quality and consistency?

What progress?

John Blakey, UK president-elect of the International Coach Federation and MD of 121 Partners, says it is still early days: "I think it is a work in progress. We are at the very early stages of all the professional bodies tentatively exploring how we align better in areas like trading standards in a way that would serve the coaching community."

John McGurk, learning, training and development adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), thinks the very fact that these standards have been drawn up has sent the message that coaching is serious. Because everybody signed up to the statement of shared values about continuous professional development, appropriate membership of an accredited body, and indemnity insurance, coaching buyers can start to say, 'look, we want people that are actually accredited'."

The Global Coaching Convention, or Global Coaching Community, as it has now come to be known as, was a culmination of 12 months of dialogue between 63 members of the global coaching community, from which the Dublin Declaration was produced.
You can read the declaration here: Link to declaration:
www.pdf.net

The UK Coaching Roundtable 'statement of shared professional values' was agreed over two coaching roundtable meetings, made up of the UK ICF (Institute of Coaching Federation), the AC (Association of Coaching), the EMCC, (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) and APECS, (the Association of Professional and Executive Coaches and Supervisors) and the CIPD. The roundtable meets quarterly.
You can read the statement of shared values statement here: www.association
forcoaching.com

"But what progress has been made towards achieving some of the seemingly ambitious deadlines, as set out in the Dublin declaration? Paul Mooney, worldwide co-ordinator of the Global Coaching Community, explains that the GCC is not an organisation but "an organism to create the space for dialogue for coaches and interested parties in coaching." In this sense, he says, deadlines have become less important, making the quality of the dialogue the main focus.

Moving forward

Blakey explains that at the last round table meeting in January, the coaching bodies looked at what the next step might be, beyond the statement of shared values: "We are exploring the five most likely outcomes for coaching that could emerge in the next five years and asking, what role would each of the professional bodies play, what degree of coordination and collaboration would be appropriate to adopt?"

The GCC is certainly not standing still either, with a South African convention planned for 2010, which will take a look back at the last two years since Dublin. "This is planned to be the largest single action learning project in the history of coaching, with an expected 1,000 coaches from all over the world being involved in a 12 month dialogue, culminating in the seven-day Cape town convention."

Going forward, the GCC plans to have a major global event, similar to Dublin and South Africa, every two years, each one beginning its dialogue with the Dublin declaration.

"There is an inherent improvement in the quality and consistency of the dialogue, as we build on each GCC event and share our experiences from all parts of the globe." says Mooney, "Oxford will build on Sydney. Victoria will build on that. Singapore will build on that. South Africa will build on that. Japan will build on that."

Annette Fillery-Travis, director of the professional development foundation and a member of the steering group for the GCC, says the GCC is giving people the chance to link up globally, "so they can be confident that their coaches are getting access to the same information and continuous professional development as each other."

The main challenges

Blakey sees there are some quite sensitive discussions that need to take place, before coaching can move concertedly in a specific direction. "Each initiative and organisation, be it the GCC, the ICF, or the AC (Association for Coaching), was started by people who had a vision around coaching. This means we've got strong opinions about certain areas, like qualifications. A long period of discussion and consultation is inevitable, before we can come out with something public and tangible."

Photo of John Blakey"A long period of discussion and consultation is inevitable, before we can come out with something public and tangible."
John Blakey, International Coach Federation

More specifically, Fillery-Travis highlights the issue of cultural and contextual differences within coaching across the globe: "Business coaching in the US will look quite different to business coaching in India."

Blakey agrees and explains that while in Holland you could challenge someone in an extraordinarily direct manner and they wouldn't take it personally, in other countries it just wouldn't be acceptable. "A multicultural assessment capability is needed if you are going to be able to take account of these nuances worldwide. This certainly shouldn't stop us trying to aim for global alignment, just like any other industry."

Where next?

"I think it will take a long time to get to the situation where accreditation becomes an essential part of coach development, of the type you see in accountancy and other management and medical professions,” says McGurk.

That said, McGurk thinks, if conducted and evaluated properly, coaching has a great future, especially if the "big buyers" feel the industry is getting its act together by setting certain standards.

Blakey also sees coaching buyers as playing a pivotal part in driving standards: "Probably in the next two years, we are going to have to ask ourselves, would it not be more efficient and effective for coaching buyers if we as professional organisations work out what we each do best, and that we start to specialise and consolidate around that?

"Either we will answer this proactively, or we will be forced to answer it by the market."

Coach Olivia Stephanino is holding a draw for free coaching sessions in return for completing a survey. More information here.

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