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Personal and Organizational Coaching: Is there a Bridge?

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During the 1970s, Paul Simon wrote a song about the “bridge over troubled waters.” There are obviously many kinds of troubled waters in our world today—some swirling around in our personal lives and others swirling around in the organizations where we work. Some of us help our coaching clients address the personal turbulence, while others of us help clients address the turmoil operating in their organizations.

If the subject of coaching is water, what about the bridge itself?. Is the bridge the same for personal and organizational coaching, or does it come in several different forms? Is the design different for those doing personal and life work with their clients, from those working with executives and others working in an organizational setting? Even more importantly, we ask:  is there a bridge that crosses between personal and organizational coaching—or are these two different worlds, between which there is a chasm that is not easily crossed?

We believe that there are important distinctions to be drawn between these two branches (or should we say Markets?  Aspects?  Labels?) of professional coaching and believe these distinctions are important to acknowledge when considering not only the preparation of professional coaches, but also the assessment (and credentialing) of men and women who are preparing for or currently engaged in professional coaching. However, we also believe that a sturdy (and passable) bridge exists between personal and organizational coaching—one that reflects not only the way in which most professional coaches actually work in the field, but also the way in which there is much for personal and organizational coaches to learn from one another via constructive dialogue. We offer articles in this issue of The Future of Coaching that identify the nature and size of the gap between personal and organizational coaching, as well as elements that provide a bridge between these two coaching perspectives and enterprises.

Three of the articles are contributed by authors who have already published in the Library of Professional Coaching. The first of these articles was written by two experts in the global outreach of professional coaching, Allen Moore and Jay Rybeck. They offer a panoramic view of coaching in organizational settings. While they build their analysis on interviews they conducted with global business leaders, their findings clearly identify both organizational and personal challenges being faced by these 21st Century leaders.

Coaching for the 21st Century

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