The Bridge: Locus of Control
In the sixth report, I identified locus of control as a potential source of difference in the responses of coaches with ICF certification and those without ICF certification. A similar pattern can be found regarding the work done by personal and organizational coaches – at least as revealed in one highly significant (.001 level) difference. Personal coaches are much more likely than organizational coaches to indicate that currently they are “in danger of losing control of a coaching conversation to a client.” While responses to this one item stands out amidst many other items where minimal differences were found between personal and organizational coaches, it is hard to ignore this one major difference. What seems to be going on?
This issue of control generates several important questions. Do personal coaches have a stronger need for control in their work with clients? Are personal coaches (like ICF certified coaches) more inclined toward an external locus of control—meaning that they are more sensitive to the control exerted by their clients. We all know that clients are supposed to be in charge of the coaching engagement—but there still might be legitimate concern about losing all control among some coaches.
If personal coaches are more reliant on and view themselves as being more skilled in the use of coaching strategies and techniques than is the case with organizational coaches, then are they likely to be more concerned (or even threatened) when control is lost? With the precision, subtlety and finesse that organizational coaches purport to possess, are they likely to be more flexible in their work with clients—allowing these coaches to be less concerned about loss of control.
Are the organizational coaches, in other words, more included toward internal locus of control and less reliant on external cues from their clients? This doesn’t mean that organizational coaches are in some manner more competent than their personal coaching colleagues: they might be insensitive to the needs of their clients or too unpredictable in their flexibility. When is it the right time for coaches to dance and when should they stay put and provide stable and reliable support to their clients? These are questions that should be broached in future sessions where coaching practices are being critically examined and best practices are identified. Locus of control might be a central theme to be explored in these sessions.