Three other findings make the picture even more complex. The ICF certified coaches indicate that they are more likely to be influenced by the institutional conditions in which they are operating. They are also more likely than are the renegades to consider terminating a coaching contract with difficult clients and are more likely to see the changes that have occurred in their coaching profession to be a decline (rather than an advance). Admittedly, the mean scores for all respondents on these last two items are quite low, and some of the significant differences in mean scores might be attributable in both instances to a few “outlier” responses by ICF respondents who are either very candid or truly in some trouble with regard to their coaching practices.
Each of these findings needs to be further verified and more carefully examined in future studies. There certainly are no results from these two surveys that can be taken as final (though some of them yielded differences that are significant at the .01 level of confidence). There does seem to be a pattern, however, that can lead us to a theme that I believe might be worth further discussion within the profession of coaching. This theme concerns the so-called locus of control to be found among respondents to the Development of Coaches Survey.
Coaching and the Locus of Control
Substantial research has been done that suggests people differ regarding the extent to which they have adopted an “internal” or “external” locus of control. Those who hold a bias toward an internal locus of control tend to believe that they have considerable control over (and accountability for) the actions they have taken as well as the environment in which they live (and have helped to create). Conversely, those with a bias toward external locus of control tend to believe that they have very little control over (and hence minimal accountability for) the actions they have taken or the environment in which they live. For those with an external locus of control, life seems to be in the hands of other people (authority) or other forces in their world (fate). The men and women who tend to embrace an internal locus of control are inclined to take responsibility for everything in their life. They are always putting in extra time and devoting extensive energy to getting everything “right.”