Many of us as professional coaches could be classified as WEIRD – even if we come from the so-called second or third world: WEIRD can easily creep into our consciousness, regardless of the society in which we grew up or now live. A WEIRD perspective can be quite compelling. However, WEIRD is not very helpful when we are addressing the issues posed by clients from outside North America or Europe – or when we are assisting a coaching client from the “Western World” who is facing global challenges and needs to become less WEIRD. Professional coaching must truly be interdisciplinary in its incorporation of diverse perspectives that are aligned with widely divergent social structures and cultures. The global coach must be culturally astute and conversant–as Phillipe Rosinski (2010) amply demonstrated, in prescient manner, when writing books about coaching and culture a decade ago.
Professional Coaching as an Epistemological and Ethical Pursuit
We suggest that an interdisciplinary and global perspective is still not enough for a professional coach to embrace. The art and science of coaching requires that we successfully address an even more profound challenge: in what way do we address multiple versions of the truth and knowledge (what are often framed as epistemological challenges)? In what ways do we address and work with multiple versions of societal values and practices (what are often framed as ethical challenges)? As interdisciplinary and globalized coaches, can we live with a cultural relativism that accepts all versions of the truth and acceptable human conduct?
William Perry (1970) is one of the people who has done the best job of framing (and perhaps answering) these questions. His work can readily be dismissed, for it is now almost 50 years old and Perry was very limited in studying the epistemological and ethical processes in which college students from Harvard University engage. Of what relevance is a study that was conducted many years ago with a very distinctive population? Yet, Perry’s work still seems relevant. His perspectives apply to learners of all ages and all socio-economic and educational groups. Specifically, Perry’s analysis of epistemology and ethics is of great value in better understanding the interdisciplinary and global perspectives required of any effective professional coach.Download Article 1K Club