Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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Assumptions about Learning

Rachel and Sam have to make decisions about not only the approach to be taken in framing the challenges being faced by Sam, but also the specific strategies to be used in helping Sam confront these challenges. These decisions, in turn, are based at least in part on a set of assumptions about how Sam might best learn about and adopt alternative ways of reasoning, evaluating and behaving in this organization. These assumptions about learning are, influenced in turn, by the various alternative perspectives already identified (personal vs. organizational, neutral vs. normative, individual vs. systemic, and head vs. heart).

There is a long history of educational and training initiatives that under-gird much of contemporary professional coaching – and Rachel and Sam will want to take into consideration the assumptions about learning that are fundamental to these initiatives. Much of the field of professional coaching (particularly organization-based coaching) is closely linked to the field of management and leadership development. Not only do many of the men and women being coached in organizations come from middle and upper levels of management and define themselves (or are defined by others) as “leaders,” there also is a widely held belief (and some evidence) indicating that developmental programs for managers are enhanced when coupled with coaching. The learning that occurs in the development programs is both more likely to be retained and more likely to be applied when a program participant is coached during the program (if sessions are distributed over time) or following the program (if sessions are offered in an intensive format).

It is assumed not only that management and leadership can be taught, but also that certain common principles and strategies can be identified and applied in many different organizational settings. While there is good reason to believe that management and leadership are context-sensitive and while there is wide dispute about the nature and dynamics of effective management and leadership, the assumption is widely held that developmental programs can be effective. Organizational coaching programs often thrive in settings where this assumption flourishes and where ongoing professional development is alive-and-well.

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