Home Research “Here Be Dragons”: Exploring the Terrain of Professional Coaching Research

“Here Be Dragons”: Exploring the Terrain of Professional Coaching Research

7 min read

William Carrier and William Bergquist

Table of Contents

Lew Stern Interview: Research on Professional Coaching [Bill Carrier]

The Coaching Research Agenda: Pitfalls, Potheads and Potentials [William Bergquist]

The Coaching Impact Study [Cambria Consulting]

Sherpa: 2014 Executive Coaching Survey Report [Sherpa Coaching]

Research on Coaching: A 2005 Retrospective [Bush and Lazar: IJCO]

The Marketing of Professional Coaching: An Eleven Year Perspective [Lazar and Bergquist]

The Bookshelf: Bibliography of Coaching Research [Stern]

There’s a lot of territory left to explore and even more for us to finish mapping.

When the New World was explored and settled, a host of nations and peoples found different things—forests, lagoons, deserts, wintry northlands, sunny southern climes, flatlands and microclimates (not that they called them microclimates back then).  Many times settlers wouldn’t range far and, even for explorers who never stopped, it could take decades to travel a region well.   They’d share their discoveries and document them, mapping the New World much as the Old World had been charted.  Where once, “Here Be dragons” was written, slowly but surely, the edge of what was known was extended.

Much as early explorers and cartographers, many of our coaching colleagues are in the process of redefining the boundaries of coaching.  We’ve been sailing from an old world of Personnel—where “here be dragons,” might have included the dangers of anything actually personal showing up at work—to a new world of self- and organizational leadership, integrated and with integrity.

As individual coaches, we learn well what works for us—we settle our certain tracts and explore the regions nearby—but there are only so many clients we can see in a day, a year, a decade; there are only so many opportunities and problems and solutions we can discover, explore and document with our clients.  We build our own maps of what works and for whom through personal experiences.  Many of us learn the area in which we work so well that we become guides for other.  In some cases, we share our understanding and, collectively, it creates a clearer picture of the place our profession has settled.

We have so many pioneers and singular settlers, however, and so many people who are busy building forts and tilling souls, that our documentation remains vastly incomplete.  The terrain of our work from our collective perspective remains largely unknown…and so we remain uncertain:  are there still dragons out there?

We write in this and our next issue of our common effort in the cartography of coaching:  the research which underpins the workings of our efforts and highlights the performance of our profession.  In this first of two issues on the systematic effort to document coaching, we’ll address research in and about coaching both historically and conceptually—we’ll cover the terrain rather broadly.  In the second issue, we’ll dive deeper into certain subjects and look into the future of professional coaching research.

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