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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Coaching first emerged in business in the late 1970’s apparently in response to an unmet need and changes in leadership models and organization culture. Ten years later coaching emerged in areas outside business (the late 1980’s) as part of an extension from business and the self-improvement and human potential movements. Once the information age dawned, around 1993, the spread of coaching has been put into hyper-drive by conferences, workshops, and forums, in both face-to-face and virtual environments.

Second, coaching has a broad intellectual framework that draws on the synergy, cross-fertilization, and practices of many disciplines. People entering the coaching field adapted theories and models from various fields to the normal population with a focus on potential for human growth and learning in the business and personal contexts. Early practitioners were consistent in taking key concepts, principles and philosophical perspectives from their education and experience into coaching. Coaching models borrowed from academic disciplines and also imported values, principles, and philosophical perspectives from non-academic disciplines.

Looking at a brief timeline of coaching’s emergence, we see that extensive counseling of executives was engaged from the 1930’s to the 1950s. These were generally the problem executives who couldn’t get along, motivate or communicate well with others. The counselors/consultants who were doing the developmental counseling in organizations had usually been trained and educated as industrial/organizational psychologists.

This early coaching, then called counseling, took place behind closed doors. Many people didn’t know what was going on — in fact some referred to it as “charm school”. There was also sales coaching by sales managers as a means of improving sales training. This coaching focused on how to perform better as a sales person and much of it was motivational in content and delivery.

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