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 first real trend in coaching, which continued into the 1970s, involved managers or supervisors acting as coaches to their employees and staff. Much of this was not viewed as coaching, as we describe it today. The word counseling was still used to describe this activity. The late 1940s brought the first manager-as-coach training program which focused on establishing a coaching culture and enhancing the manager’s interpersonal skills. During the 1950s a few professionals began using a blend of organizational development and psychological techniques in working with executives. Ten articles were published on effective coaching by management to improve performance.

During the 1960s and 70s we see the rise of leadership development programs, which included assessment centers, that corresponded with the rise of coaching. It was actually during the late 1970s that some hardback books were published on coaching. These included Lovin and Cassteven’s Coaching, Learning and Action and Fournies’ Coaching for Improved Performance. Both described coaching as a supervisory role and were concerned with improving performance. A Manager s Guide to Coaching was written by Megginson and Boydell to capitalize during the late 1970s in Britain on the wave of interest among managers about coaching. The interest was coming from companies, senior executives, and HR professionals. These leaders wanted their managers to coach rather than to use command and control strategies. As David Megginson recalled,

We felt that to do that they needed to cope with the tensions of having responsibilities for controlling the performance of their staff, and, at the same time, having responsibility for developing their staff. My definition of coaching at that time really dealt with a skill set to be used by a manager.

Two other events that took place in 1979 influenced the emergence of coaching. First, Fernando Flores completed work on his dissertation, “Communication and Management in the Office of the Future.” After the dissertation was completed, Erhard incorporated Flores’s ideas into est and invested in Flores’s first company, Hermenet Inc., a communications-consulting and software firm. Second, the Actors Information Project (AIP) was started in New York City by Jay Perry and David Rosen as a resource, information, training and community center with a focus on the business side of acting. The AIP offered counseling that was really a form of coaching. Erhard’s concepts and work informed the services provided. Original members included Madeleine Homan and David Matthew Prior. Other members were Cynthia Loy Darst, Henry Kimsey House, Isabelle Parlett, Eric Kohner and Rick Tamlyn.

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