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The Context of Coaching

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To elicit core values and commitments

There is a great tendency today to think that technical prowess is the pioneering edge of our post-modern society. Truth is, as important as technological knowledge and skills are, they pale when compared to our need to be value-driven, bonded to others, and clear about the ultimate purposes of our lives. Technology fosters communication tools and mediums. But the medium is not the message. The message most people search for is about “meaning,” the ultimate concerns of our lives—in short: “values” and “beliefs.”

Technological advancements are the province of young people whose mathematical and specialized skills are often superior to those of older folk. Values and purpose, on the other hand, are the province of mature people who have been around long enough to transcend their intellectual skills and immediate personal needs and acquired trust in the flow of things. Such persons are effective generalists reaching out to a younger society of specialists. Adults in midlife and beyond are the most likely bearers of values for a culture. For that reason, many coaches—but by no means all—are persons in the second half of life.

To renew human systems

In the past twenty years, corporate America has sought to transform its management styles, and one of the groups targeted for removal has been “middle managers.” Typically, a middle manager is a well-paid, long-term, loyal worker responsible for getting work done in some part of a business. The new management style is to train workers to manage themselves, through teams, leadership training, and new rewards. This trans- formation has brought some astonishing improvements in the development of quality goods and services in an increasingly competitive world.

However, the middle managers were often the invisible “mentors” of these organizations, and without them there is in many organizations a hollow absence of older role models to foster advanced skills, management abilities, new career directions, and long-term loyalty with younger workers.

Coach/mentors can be found and trained in most every workforce. Since they are already being paid, it is primarily a matter of time allocation to establish them as available coaches to promising, less experienced workers seeking to grow within a work system.

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