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Coaching to Problems Being Faced and Decisions to be Made

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Many of the services being provided by professional coaches (especially executive coaches) focus on the problems being faced by a client and/or on the decisions that a client must make. Along with my colleague, Agnes Mura, I have even identified a specific branch of professional coaching as “decisional coaching.” This branch exists alongside of what Agnes and I (in coachbook) identify as behavioral coaching and aspirational coaching.

The present issue of The Future of Coaching is devoted to this critical coaching function. As a professional coach, one must have strategies and tools for effective problem-solving and decision-making in their coaching arsenal whether majoring in decisional coaching or focusing occasionally on problem-solving and decision-making in their personal or organizational coaching practices.

We approach the matter of problem-solving and decision-making in three related ways. First, we offer essays that have previously been published in The Library of Professional Coaching (or are now being published) that offer a general perspective on the environment in which mid-21st Century problems must be solved and decisions made. A second set of essays focus specifically on the processes of problem-solving (as well as cautions against focusing on problems). Finally, in the third section of this issue, I have chosen essays that concern the challenge of making decisions.

General Perspectives

A Gestalt Perspective on Coaching in Organizations [Dorothy Siminovich]

A Gestalt Perspective on Coaching in Organizations: Puzzles, Problems and Mysteries | Library of Professional Coaching

“An overarching challenge for any coach working within organizations is to recognize, accurately name and describe the issue that the client brings for the coaching effort. Facing the complexity of organizational realities, we, as coaches, must decipher the nature of the issue being presented: whether it is a puzzle, a problem or a mystery. Too often, action towards goals is taken without adequate attention given to the nature of the presenting concern. “

Neurosocial Dynamics: Toward a Unique and Cohesive Discipline for Organizational Coaching [Linda Page]

Neurosocial Dynamics: Toward a Unique and Cohesive Discipline for Organizational Coaching | Library of Professional Coaching

“The answer to one further question relates to enacting a discipline of coaching: what are we doing here? This is a question about purpose. In the mechanistic paradigm, it might have been answered by referring to drives: We are here to pursue physiological needs or deep-seated psychological cathexis. Outside of scientific inquiry, the answer might be sought from faith or religion. A systemic approach assumes a dialectic relationship among heredity (brain/ body), environment (especially social relationships), and our own self-creative, mutually constructive powers. We formulate a sense of what it means to be truly, authentically ourselves. Moving toward and achieving goals consistent with that sense is immensely fulfilling as Alfred Adler proposed at the beginning of the last century and positive psychology research on the meaningful life (Peterson, 2006) is indicating now. Making conscious decisions that keep ourselves moving toward that ideal of our highest purpose is the essence of potentiating. Connecting our every decision with that highest purpose is what lends our lives coherence. Applying coaching theory to our consideration of coaching as a discipline, we therefore need to determine the purpose of coaching in order to motivate the creation of a discipline.”

In Search of Serenity [Bergquist]

Searching for Serenity in a VUCA-Plus World | Library of Professional Coaching

In recent years, four words have often been offered and grouped together as a way to distill the challenges we now face. These four words are volatile (V), uncertain (C), complex (C) and ambiguous (A). As a consolidated group of challenges, they are identified as VUCA.  Recently, I have added two other characteristics: turbulence and contradiction. Pulling together these six aspects, I have identified the VUCA-Plus aspects of mid-21st Century life and work. In this essay, I wish to broaden my consideration of each VUCA-Plus element—considering the polarities associated with each element. I also wish to introduce the opposite of VUCA-Plus. These are the aspects of stability (as opposed to volatility), certainty (vs. uncertainty, simplicity (vs. complexity), clarity (vs. ambiguity), calm (vs. turbulence) and consistency (vs. contradiction).

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