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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Sam is facing complexity, unpredictability and turbulence in his own work life (and perhaps also in his personal life). He is working in a sector of society (health care) which is particularly complex, unpredictable and turbulent today (though many other sectors can claim a similar condition). Rachel’s work with Sam is clearly aligned with the postmodern condition, yet is also strongly influenced by the other dilemmas and opportunities associated with professional coaching over the past twenty five years.

Clearly, the ways in which both Rachel and Sam approach their coaching engagement is founded in dilemmas and drivers that can be traced back in many instances to the philosophical and political debates of antiquity: the individual vs. the group or state, the use of interpersonal and group skills to defuse dissent, the nature of profound learning, and, ultimately, the head versus the heart. From this perspective we can’t really say that professional coaching is something new under the sun. After all, we are dealing with the human psyche—which hasn’t changed much since we first stood up on two feet to look out over the African savannah. On the other hand, one might suggest that professional coaching is something new and that it exists precisely because of the postmodern condition. Furthermore, the postmodern condition, even more than economic prosperity, may be responsible for the emergence and perhaps endurance of professional coaching. This new field might have been the right strategy, at the right time and place, for the right reasons. This analysis further suggests that professional coaching may have to change during the coming years as the time and place and reasons of our world also change.

What if Rachel continues to coach Sam? This would first of all probably mean that Rachel has been successful working with Sam—which is good news. There may have to be changes in the coaching strategies being employed, however, because the coaching process has “matured” for Rachel and Sam. They know each other better—including their strengths and weaknesses. They also will have built mutual trust—in the competencies both of them exhibit, their intentions regarding the coaching engagement and, hopefully, their shared perspectives regarding what is ultimately important in the world and how best to find meaning in their individual lives and in their coaching engagement. There are other reasons for continuing to modify their coaching engagement—and these reasons impact not only the professional relationship between Rachel and Sam, but also the field of professional coaching in general. I will now explore several of these reasons.

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