William Bergquist and William Carrier
The Future of Coaching is concerned with the very heart and soul of professional coaching—it addresses the challenge of coaching’s future status, direction and long-term goals. It also offers the strategies and tools needed for this challenging future. Much as individual professional coaches assist their clients in focusing on their own individual future and the future of organizations with which they are affiliated and often lead, so it is important that the field of coaching itself address this fundamental coaching question: what will the future be for this human service field?
This issue of the Future of Coaching brings together two important themes: (1) stewardship and (2) leadership development. They are brought together within the context of nurturing the field of executive coaching. Furthermore, the essays contained in this issue build on outcomes from a summit conference on executive coaching that was held in April of 2022. Called the New Executive Coaching Summit (NECS), this 2 ½ day meeting incorporated not only a two day in-person meeting that was held at a Bed and Breakfast Inn in Harpswell Maine, but also a one-half day virtual meeting that brought together the 22 participants in the in-person meeting with 20 other senior executive coaches from North America and Europe.
When we founded the Future of Coaching, we intended to include one or more tools in each issue (or at least most issues). While we kept with this practice for several years, we have decided more recently to devote entire issues of the Future of Coaching to the presentation and description of professional coaching tools. We use the term “Tool Chest” when titling these issues. The digital chest in this issue of Future of Coaching contains a wide variety of “tools.” There are several inventories that can be administered with a single client, with a team, or with an entire organization. There lists of questions that can be posed to our coaching clients, and there are descriptions of entire coaching processes.
It is clear that we humans are influenced by a range of factors beyond our awareness. Beginning to understand these factors and implement techniques to become more aware of our thinking and decision-making, makes us smarter and reduces over-confidence, ignorance and poor decision-making. Given the resistance to these tools, leadership coaches and consultants are in a position to nudge their clients to apply these tools for better understanding and decision-making. These observations lead to an important question: in what ways are coaching practices concerned with the “blind spots” of clients (especially not knowing what they don’t know) and how does a coach address the unwillingness of some clients to acknowledge areas where they need but do not have adequate knowledge? In general, we must then ask: how common are these blind-spots in society or in business settings? How does one as a professional coach go about identifying possible blind-spots in an individual and helping the individual see this for themselves? What are some of the techniques that can be used to help leaders?
It is evident that the roles of leaders, particularly in a fast-changing world, and the roles of leaders, advisors, experts and that of lay-people is unclear (at least in many environments) leading to distrust, rejection and animosity. There is also the broader challenge that is now found in many societies. This is the widespread disbelief in expertise or at least the lingering skepticism that was precipitated by disparate, changing and often contradictory displays of expertise regarding COVID-19 over the past two years. Many people simply don’t trust either the competence or intentions of those claiming to be experts regarding health (and many other matters).
Learning the basics of our biology validates humanistic and soft skills theories used in executive coaching and leadership development practice. Employees contribute more when they feel safe, have clarity, are included, treated equally, aren’t put down, and are provided autonomy. Laboratory studies using MRI technology validate these principles. As the field of behavioral neuroscience has evolved, it’s offered hard scientific evidence that leaders can understand. Coaches who grasp these dynamics and learn how to apply neuroscientific approaches can be more effective. This volume of The Future of Coaching features several articles related to the neuroscience of coaching.1K Club