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Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

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Second, I believe that it is still a good idea to tie coaching in organizations to other developmental initiatives – such as training, performance review and organization development. As Klaus noted in his 2003 statement, this tie-in not only provides leverage, it also provides an opportunity for the executive coach (if engaging in some of these other initiatives) to gain greater knowledge of and a more diverse perspective on the dynamics operating in the organization they are serving.

Third, I was impressed with the call for service to the field of executive coaching by my colleagues (and myself). This is still a critical issue. Bob talked about the remarkable tendency of executive coaches (and I would suggest most professional coaches) to work in isolation. Some of the recent research reports I have prepared based on the large-scale Development of Coaches survey provide some verification that coaches tend to work in silos and that we still need servant leaders in the inter-disciplinary field of executive (and organizational) coaching.

What has changed in the field over the past 13 years? I am impressed with the extent to which several inter-disciplinary fields are beginning to inform and influence the way we think about professional coaching. I am particularly intrigued with the rapidly growing disciplines of neurobiology (and particularly social neuro-biology) and behavioral economics. Through the new findings in neurobiology, we are exploring the complex dynamics in professional coaching associated with empathy (as related to mirror neurons) and with major new opportunities for adult learning and change (as related to neuro-plasticity). Behavioral economics has brought forth new appreciation for the processes of reflection (with an emphasis, as Daniel Kahneman notes, on “slow thinking”) and the power of assumptions and heuristics that we carry with us and that informs our sometimes accurate but often distorted vision of reality. Clearly professional coaching can be of great value in addressing the challenges and availing itself of the opportunities associated with empathy, adult learning, reflection and the surfacing of assumptions and governing heuristics.

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