No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The future of coaching is in the hands of every coach


In the last of his series of coaching articles, Alan Ward outlines the responsibilities that every coach has, to ensure the success both of their own practice and of the profession in the future.


Widely acknowledged as the seminal publication for our profession, 'Coaching for Performance' by Sir John Whitmore was first published in 1992. In the intervening 18 years we have seen coaches develop from the new kids on the training block into a respected and welcome presence at any gathering of executives, HR experts, entrepreneurs and L&D specialists around the world. What lies ahead for coaches and how might they realise their enormous value and astonishing potential?

In consumer terms, coaching has probably reached the 'early majority' stage in which purchasers now collect more information and evaluate more providers than early adopters ever did. Ten years ago, big organisations, particularly those with US parents or client bases, welcomed with open arms almost anyone with a claim to coaching as we were comparatively thin on the ground and they were keen to introduce new and different ways of supporting their executive development. But far from becoming a fad, coaching has been established as a worthwhile investment in people and now HR practitioners rely on friends, colleagues and opinion leaders for information and norms about procurement.
As the demand for coaching has grown across all geographies, sectors and functions, the number offering to meet the need has mushroomed. We might not yet be at the point where we are lining up outside the factory gates clamouring to be picked for a day's pay but simple supply and demand economics cannot be ignored. We are already seeing the introduction of more sophisticated assessment centres and closed-membership, preferred-supplier pools, as buyers attempt to filter applicants and make the right match with their valuable talent.
"Coaching has been established as a worthwhile investment in people and now HR practitioners rely on friends, colleagues and opinion leaders for information and norms about procurement."
If forming was a polite, exciting period of development, I am now observing more and more typical teenage-like behaviour as the coaching community goes through its storming phase. Where once I was amazed at the capacity for sharing and mutual enlightenment amongst coaching colleagues, there is a growing tendency towards an insular, protectionist approach. When times get tough – and no question we are in tough times – the law of the jungle seems to become the default, where it is everyone for themselves and personal survival seems at stake. If this continues as the norm, then buyers will become increasingly confused, cynical and cost-focused to the detriment not only of all players concerned, but also I suggest to the wider society.
The future of coaching is currently in the hands of the coaches. But anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated for long: already many corporates are taking the profession in-house and the discipline of coaching will be distributed as a new-style of leadership, sales and relationship skills. Some of this is a good thing. Coaching at work should permeate delegating, motivating, problem-solving, development and team-working and this is not to be left solely to intermittent, outside interventions. On the other hand, the role for a fresh, independent mind to reflect ideas, evoke solutions and support with trust and confidentiality is clearly recognised as a valuable executive need fulfilled by external coaches.

Grown-up behaviours

As we move into the future, I recommend that coaches should enhance their awareness in three areas: self, colleagues and clients. This can be achieved by considering the following questions and actions:

1.     Self

  • What are you doing to ensure you are and continue to be the best coach you can be?
  • What is your level of competence and how do you measure it?
  • Consider academic qualifications to extend your knowledge of current theory, promote your life-long learning and challenge your established thinking
  • Benchmark yourself with a professional accreditation such as EMCC EIA or other coaching body
  • Have a Continuing Professional Development plan and monitor its effectiveness
  • Get feedback from clients and reflect on it
  • Attend group or individual coaching supervision sessions on a regular basis
  • Do you model coaching behaviours in your own life?

2.     Colleagues

  • Consider how to make the coaching cake bigger rather than fighting for a bigger piece of a limited market
  • How might collaboration lead to more interesting, more rewarding and more sustainable business going forward?
  • Contribute to coaching discussion groups, such as those hosted by TrainingZone and LinkedIn.
  • Be generous with sharing your experience to enhance the body of learning – you'll be amazed at how much comes in return
  • Are you able to operate as a coaching supervisor or otherwise mentor fellow colleagues?
  • Do you challenge and invite challenge from colleagues to raise both your games?
  • Do you model coaching behaviours in your interactions with other coaches?

3.     Clients

  • Are you aware of your role as ambassador for the coaching profession?
  • Does your competitive instinct lead to demeaning other coaches? What you might see as negative campaigning to raise your own status, can be regarded as mudslinging by the audience
  • Be proud of what you do and have the confidence to acknowledge that others may have just as good or more fitting skills for that client
  • Is your strategy transactional or relationship-driven? What are the long-term implications for you and your business?
  • Consider publishing research and articles that generate interest in the wider world. Clients buy practical applications rather than some fancy theory. Do you have case studies that demonstrate the value of coaching to real people?
  • Do you model coaching behaviours with your clients?
As we each venture on to the next stage of our own journeys, I am reminded of a great quote by Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, from JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets': "It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."  The future is out there for all of us. Let’s ensure it’s a good one.
Alan Ward is a director of Performance Consultants, the coaching and leadership development specialist.
He chairs TrainingZone's Coaching Discussion Group, a network of coaches and managers who coach and train managers who employ specialists. The group is a forum for questions and debate on all aspects of coaching, including qualifications, supervision, marketing, coaching methods and building a coaching business


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!