Coaching as an International Industry
Coaching services are now to be found in most countries throughout the world. With the widespread availability of many digitally-based communication tools, coaches can now work virtually with clients throughout the world. They can build globe-spanning coaching networks that are indeed impressive and conducive to innovation in coaching practices and the formation of multiple coaching institutes, associations and information-sharing networks.
Internationalization is particularly prevalent in the field of executive coaching—work with high level leaders. We observe an increase in the engagement of executive coaches in many developed countries (for example, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, South Africa, UK) as well as in countries that have even more rapidly growing economies (such as Brazil, China, Chile, Croatia, Mexico, India, Israel and Turkey). We also see an increase in the number and size of international networks of coaches (like those of the Marshall Goldsmith Group, MindSpan, and The Global Coaching Partnership).
On the one hand, coaching as an internationalized field enables professional coaches to learn from one another across traditional cultural divides. This, in turn, provides rich opportunities for these coaches to become globally literate and of even greater value in working with leaders who operate in a world that is no longer defined by national boundaries. On the other hand, the internationalization of professional coaching means that it is harder to nail down exactly what coaching is and how it is behaviorally defined, given the influence of culture and other human services on the field of coaching.
In some countries, for instance, psychotherapy is considered to be inappropriate for anyone other than those who are severely disturbed. Professional coaching becomes a “face-saving” alternative for men and women who are facing major emotional challenges. The comparable challenge for professional coaches becomes the skills and knowledge needed to recognize and deal with clients who are addressing major emotional issues such as personality disorders and abusive behavior (see, for example, Kets de Vries, 2014; Crawshaw, 2010). Alternatively, the challenge for these coaches is to turn away or refer clients who are in need of psychotherapeutic or psychiatric services.
The Marketing Strategy
In summary, professional coaching has moved beyond the phase of fad. This field is no longer basking in the glow of newness—it is an emergent profession. Given this status, we propose that coaching practitioners position themselves in the field by carefully considering the following strategies.
Specifically, we encourage the linking of coaching practices to organizational learning, business development, professional development, health and personal growth issues. Professional coaching is no longer a “nice thing to do” or a last-ditch patch on the wounded executive. It now must link to immediate and vital priorities of the individual clients and their organizations. We also believe that professional coaching must be research- and evidence-based, with a strong dose of accountability. The individual professional coach within or outside an organization must be able to make the case for his or her own ability to be effective when working with clients with specific needs and concerns. As Bob Dunham (2011) observes, marketing is about building awareness, identity, trust and interest in the credible offers you make and are able to fulfill. Finally, we believe that successful coaching now requires an “internationalized” perspective. Even if a coach is not working with clients from other countries, he or she must be aware of what is happening globally and culturally sensitive, given that these clients are likely themselves to be addressing global dynamics. The parochial or blindly ethnocentric coach is unlikely to get very far in the new world of flat communication networks and curved interlocking economic systems. As a coach, can you speak to these issues when you market to your target audiences?Download Article 1K Club