I just finished a module on Coaching Theory. There was a lot of good information on learning principles such as adult learning, learning styles and indicators, how experiential learning works , Theories of X,Y and Z on management, inputs from Psychology, Spirituality and Philosophy and so on.
The general view is that Coaching is about adult learning. As an adult learning process, Coaching should be self directed, relevant, goal oriented, respectful to client and practical. All of this is true.
All of this should be true for non adult learning as well. Why should non adults, by this i would mean people below 18, be considered incapable of self learning, undirected, impractical etc. Or that we can be disrespectful to them. This view arises from a dysfunctional educational system. Many non formal schools, such as Waldorf, work on adult learning principles from a very young age. I have seen kids doing brilliantly in such environment.
Respect, relevance and self resolution of problems should be applicable to all ages and all types of learning. All learning should be experiential. All learning should have components of active, reflective, theoretical and pragmatic phases built in to be holistic.
Learning need not be solution oriented. However, it should help lead to solutions. One of the class leaders said that as a coach, what she offered was to listen, release judgment and see people as they really are, so that she could offer feedback that could unlock the client’s own solution.
This brings me to the question of what a coach really offers. I agree that a coach should not offer solutions. S/he should inspire solutions. S/he should make the client think and bring out stuff that are hidden. However, this can be dangerous stuff. The people who tried such stuff got crucified!
What would a client pay a coach for? I would expect that a client would pay a coach for results, which are tangible. Philosophers do not get paid , consultants do big time. Is there a Coaching theory that brings this out?f
If we are into coaching purely for altruistic and philanthropic reasons of helping others, there is no pressure on us to justify what we offer. Gandhi and King were great teachers and coaches. They inspired people as leaders. Both got shot for their trouble!
In the venture capital space, there is an important factor called ”Unfair Advantage’ that a fund seeking entrepreneur would need to prove to a potential investor. This is about what value the entrepreneur offers and how what s/he offers is better than the next person who is in the queue.
I guess a professional practicing coach is in the same position. The coach competes with other coaches for business. the coach also competes with consultants, therapists and such others for business.
So, what value do we offer as coaches?
The answer would decide whether we are successful or not.