Home Research Coaching Surveys The Development of Coaches Survey: II. Challenge, Autonomy and Support

The Development of Coaches Survey: II. Challenge, Autonomy and Support

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Brock and I note that the motives behind this professional concern are laudable: concern for quality of service and for an adequate foundation of theory-based and evidential research to support coaching practices. However, underlying these legitimate motives is often an unacknowledged thirst for control of the field (with its potentially rich source of money and capacity to influence personal and organizational lives). While those aligned with the professional culture support research on coaching, they are inclined to identify coaching as an “art” rather than a “science,” and cringe at any efforts to quantify (and therefore constrain or trivialize) the specific outcomes of coaching.

Brock and I suggested in our broad analysis of the professional culture that those drawn to this culture tend to value autonomy and social status — whether they be physicians, attorneys, veterinarians . . . or coaches. There is strong resistance to regulation (though a counter interest in certification and licensing), as well as a distain for quantifiable accountability for their work (though there is a reluctant turn in recent years toward “evidence-based” practices in many professional fields). It is ironic that professional coaches often work with clients who are organizational leaders (and are aligned with the managerial culture) or are seeking to find new purpose and meaning in their life (and are aligned with the alternative/developmental culture). While working with clients aligned with these other cultures, coaches often tend to remain aligned with the professional culture and embrace the resistance in this culture to the other five cultures.

The Role of Supervision and Training

What does all of this mean in terms of the life and future of professional coaching? Does the role played by being an autonomous “professional” hold any implications for what coaches now do or could do? Part of the answer to this question resides in results we obtained from analysis of one response to Question Three: “How capable do you feel to guide the development of other coaches.” The mean score for this item was relatively high (survey one: 3.81/survey two: 3.52);  however, the variance scores were either the highest (survey two) or third highest (survey one) of any Question Three item (survey One: 1.42/survey two: 2.32).

While survey respondents consistently agreed that their own development is very important (“How important to you is your further development as a coach?”), many of the respondents were less confident that they could be of assistance to other coaches in their development. This is a major and perhaps disturbing finding. Yes, we are committed to our own development as coaches, but we are not so sure about our guiding of development among other coaches. We must wait to determine in future analyses if these large variance scores are associated with number of years in the field, gender, age, cultural differences or nature of past coach training.

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    December 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    The best part of this report of the results of these two surveys is the discussion of the concepts. Such discussion is valuable regardless of the reliability or validity of the results (or evidence).

    Unfortunately, the methodology section is missing the most important aspect of methodology: how were each of the surveys distributed and what was the rate of return. If, as I suspect, this was an Internet-based survey, then the results have an exceptionally low chance of being either reliable or valid. That is, the likelihood that they reflect the “coaching industry” or “a typical coach” is incredibly small. Thus, conclusions based on the results are suspect.

    But there’s the point. The discussion itself has its own reliability and validity independent of the survey. The points made are worthy of continuing discussion regardless of the surveys.


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