I thought I'd let you all know that the RSA has a new report just out, titled 'Beyond the Big Society - Psychological Foundations of Active Citizenship'.
You'll find it here: http://www.thersa.org/projects/social-brain/beyond-the-big-society
I am a co-author :-)
Why it might be relevant is that it focuses on the model of adult psychological growth developed by Prof Robert Kegan - a model that is used by many coaches and mentors.
I'd love to hear any feedback you make have about the report :-)
A previous 'Social Brain' report on transforming behaviour change will be of interest too, I suspect!
(RSA Senior Networks Manager - Online & International)
Hi Robert Ill take a look, I am sure it has relevance and interest for coaches. I am gearing up for 2012 and the coaches lunch etc....
You beat me to it, Matthew! I meant to post something the other evening and then got distracted.
I totally see why this is relevant to coaching as it is practiced. The first question though, that it raises for me, is around the ethics of certain coaching interventions.
A few years ago, I was Group HR Director for a very large organisation with around 150 so-called "High Flyers". As a part of the development process that I inherited all of them were encouraged to have a coach. I did a confidential review with all of them and established that 30 had actually got one. I then asked both the individuals and the coaches to complete a simple questionnaire - anonymously. They were each asked to identify the areas that they addressed in their sessions (eg business planning, self-confidence, motivation of others, politics - the list went on to list about 25 aspects). They were each asked to rate the effectiveness of the coach/the learning of the client in each area. Finally, the coaches were asked to outline the professional qualifications and experience that equipped them to perform their role.
The 'effectiveness' of the coaches was generally rated reasonably high. However, the distribution was quite spread. When I compared the lower quartile with the upper quartile and looked at the professional background of the coach, there was a marked difference. Basically competent coaches had limited extensive professional training and mid- to no- management experience. The highly competent ones were all professional psychologists or similar and all had a personal career path that was comparable with that of their client.
The range of topics addressed in their sessions paralleled this. The top ones focused on attitudinal and behavioural dimensions of the client's work, largely internal factors, whereas the less effective ones focused on the planning, goals, and how to deal with team and individual behaviour - largely day-to-day and external factors.
This led me to question what we were doing, as a business, paying for unqualified and inexperienced coaches working on less impacting aspects of performance. But it also raised the issue of whether some of the middle (and therefore 'normal') ones were actually dabbling in areas that they had no real understanding of?
Of course, the sample size was far too small to draw any serious conclusions about, but it is an issue that has concerned me ever since.
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What a fascinating story - and would be a great piece of research to extend to include more coaches and clients. And even lots of different schools of coaching.
I'm intrigued as to whether them lower quartile coaches actually limited the topics that their client would have wanted to talk about. Or whether (somehow unconsciously) lower quartile coaches ended up paired with similar clients.
Otto Laske has a great table which shows the Kegan stages of clients and coaches - and when the coach will actually limit or damage their client etc. Fascinating stuff....
Hi Graham and Matthew,
Good stuff, raising more questions.... My view there is an axis of experience/skill/development. At one end coaches tend to hang around where they feel most comfortable which seems to be more left brain stuff, goals, planning, strategy etc. They find it uncomfortable to have much greater range than that, tend to see emotions as a distraction to 'real' coaching and are unlikely to use metaphor, the unconscious, sense of self integrated into the coaching relationship. At the other we find fluid coaches with range and confidence who are able to incorporate all of their clients worlds into the coaching relationship. Generally these coaches are very well self developed personally. Your comments about psychologists or similar don't surprise me as those kind of trainings provide precisely an emphasis on self development that will encourage the range I am talking of.
The career path being similar also makes sense. This natural experiential identification is necessary and obvious to me. It facilitates sharing of systems, knowledge, hurdles, challenges etc that are particular to the clients work context. In the same way I am finding that the quickest to become effective recovery coaches I train are those who have some personal understanding and / or experience of recovery..
Thanks for your interesting thoughts on this :-)
If there's any research comparing the psychological characateristics of coaches, with their effectiveness, do let me know.
I hope Graham and I are both on your e-mail contacts list to get updates about the coaching network...?
I bet there is but I don't have it.....
Did you sign up the the mailing list? It's on www.thecoacheslunch.com
I am updating the site tonight and sending out an update to the list tomorrow....
Yes, now that the era of Victorian do-gooders is over, it seems almost inconceivable that a drug or alcohol counsellor, for example, would not have been an addict themselves at some point. Of course, there are clinical exceptions, but having experience of something and then working with others as they go through it is pretty much common sense.
If nothing else, not having the same experiences is a further hurdle to win credibility with the client. I often smile as I see a coach trying to establish their 'power' in the relationship. I keep meaning to write something translating Hillman's categories of power in terms of the coach/client relationship.
There's also a question of the unconscious draw of a particular pathology to both the client and the counsellor - both responding to the same need, only in different directions.
I am going to argue against myself now.......in some instances I don't think that it is necessary to have a similar experience in order for there to be a fruitful coaching relationship. What I mean is, the idea that it is an absolute necessity can become a block in its own right. It becomes the 'nobody understands' me mantra used by the most resistant in pursuit of not doing their work on themselves. Its a form of non responsibility taking.
Addicts do it all the time. So what has to get balanced is the overall development of the coach themselves against their personal experience. I would favour the former over the latter every time.
There is value too in 'the other'. You know a room full of engineers will struggle sometimes to get out of engineer land. Chuck in a dyslexic artist as facilitator and while they may struggle to get them they will have more opened up for them. This is the balancing act between all forces really.
As to 'credibility' that all depends on what the client wants. And 'credibility' is a very personally defined thing. Frankly I find many coaches and therapists who seem very credible to others totally incredible! Of course that may say loads about me!
Hi, I'm new to the group and relatively new to RSA, but looking forward to opportunities for group conversations about any topics that impact on us as coaches or involved in wider leadership development - over lunch or in any other way! The Beyond the Big Soc piece is comprehensive and impactful in the way that it captures many the key aspects of relational learning, and the requirements on us as emotionally intelligent citizens and leaders that we now need to think about if we are to work in, and influence this system change. If we are coaching in this context - and I am - then all the related psychological tools and behavioural frameworks are extremely helpful. Formal coaching training is critical I would have thought, but experience and application of relational frameworks can be applied with some impact, without professional psychological training. I also find quite often that being outside the client's own professional context, but drawing on my own, can provide real opportunities to ask key questions that unlock insights - being naive with unconditional regard can trigger moments of significant insight for both client and coach. Looking forward to meeting up ... David