Home Research History of Coaching Professional Challenges Facing the Coaching Field from an Historical Perspective

Professional Challenges Facing the Coaching Field from an Historical Perspective

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The last action item is “champion coaching as a social phenomenon”. We can shift from looking at coaching as a set of practices and look at it as a social phenomenon–something far bigger than we might have desired or imagined. We start looking at it outside the discipline and we don’t confine ourselves within the walls of professional coaching. This is the only way coaching can become the worldview – when it gets much bigger than professional coaches. We want to shift from the scarcity of “what’s in it for us” to the abundance of “what’s in it for all and the world will be a better place when we open this up.”

Coaching can become the worldview without achieving the status of a profession–nor does coaching have to be clearly distinguished from related disciplines. We now have the rare opportunity to contribute to the wellness of the planet, including its flora, its fauna, and our own race. As coaches, it is up to us to ask the big powerful questions. In this article I have asked some of these questions and invite you to join with me in identifying and answering these and other powerful questions currently facing the coaching field, and ultimately the world.


It’s been seven years since this 2009 article was written, and coaching has been progressing. Globally we have seen mature market consolidation and shakeout, with growth being slower in highly developed coaching markets; rapid growth in emerging markets, including Asia, Caribbean, and Latin America; coaching more widespread and diversified, with forms including more group, team, self, live, software coaching; and no evidence of decline with continued global growth.  Coaching continues to gain importance as a learning intervention in times of crisis, valuable during the global recession of 2008-2010.  However, coaching’s standing and impact may be diluted as it becomes integrated and woven into culture and worldview.

There are many scenarios, ranging from devolution to evolution.  In a progression from least desired to most desired, scenarios identified in collaboration with my colleague Terry Musch are:

  1. Devolution of credibility-shadow side of culture looks for profession to project on (early Chiropractic phasing as example)
  2. Devolution by irrelevance based on too many types of coaching (dilution factor) and a crowded healing arts/consulting market.
  3. Devolution based on exiting practitioners – no tangible income/outcome perceived.
  4. Devolution based on dissolution of original concept by other unseen field absorbing (i.e., transpersonal psychology, etc.).
  5. Evolution of profession by necessary awareness of effectiveness and continuous improvement.
  6. Evolution of profession by sudden leap in cultural awareness via media pipeline.
  7. Accelerated evolution by cultural perception of “coach as required catalyst to success”
  8. Radical accelerated evolution spring forth by cultural creative’s, freelancers, free agents, translucence, as cultural voice of affirmation.
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