Home Research Coaching Surveys The Development of Coaches Survey: III. Influence and Learning

The Development of Coaches Survey: III. Influence and Learning

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The Influence of Indirect Experiences

Results from both surveys suggest that its not all about the influence of direct work with clients or one’s own personal life, there are many ways in which coaches are influenced by less immediate sources. For example, quite high mean scores and rankings are to be found in both questions with regard to “taking coaching specific courses, seminars or workshops.” This item yielded very little disagreement among the respondents to the second question (current development), but somewhat higher disagreement among respondents to the first question (overall development). Our demographic analyses might produce some insight regarding the disagreements in assessing the influence of training on overall development.

Reading also was influential in terms of current development, whereas getting coached and collaborating with other coaches  was considered influential in the overall developoment of coaches. Are these latter influences more likely to be strong in the early career of a professional coach. The demographic analysis might provide us with some insights.

Hard and Soft Learning

Let’s try to put the last two sets of findings together–knowing full well that anything we might conclude now will be subject to further clarification and revision as we begin to sort things out with demographics and as we conduct further research regarding the development of coaches. It would seem that there is a certain kind of influence (and I would reframe influence as learning) that is “soft” in character. I  don’t mean “soft” in terms of being easy; rather, I mean “soft” in terms of being subtle and often elusive. The direct experiences with clients are “soft” in this regard, as are the ways in which we learn from our personal experiences and somehow translate these lessons learned into our coaching practice. These are the “here-and-now” experiences that slip in and out of our life and work–experiences that we glimpse, but often don’t fully appreciate or understand until much later when we reflect on them and identify repeated patterns embedded in these experiences (what are often called “second-order” learning).

By contrast, I would identify the learning as “hard” that occurs through indirect experiences via books, teaching sessions and supervision.  It is “hard” in the sense that the source of this learning is often definitive, well-structured and presented in an “objective” manner (as evidence-based “reality”). While personal experiences in our own life and our work with clients tends to be “subjective” and not easily captured in words, the lessons we are “taught” from coaching books, instructors and supervisors are typically conveyed via words.

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