I come from a sport coaching background and have a number of coaching qualifications in hockey and athletics. Each of them took me at least a year to complete. They covered the theory of coaching and included many different approaches for getting someone through the development cycle from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence.
Limited personal development and growth
Contrast this with many life coaches. They do a weekend’s workshop and then have a piece of paper telling them they are a life coach. Usually they will have learned the GROW model and perhaps SMART goal setting. They have also had drummed into them that “the client knows all they need for their personal development and growth”. All the coach should do is ask questions and certainly never be directive!
Or consider the business coach. I’ve come across more than a few who were faced with redundancy at work so did a business coaching courses as part of their exit package. Again, they are told to be non-directive, to only ask questions, as that way they can’t get into legal trouble for giving bad, misleading or plain wrong advice!
In both cases, they only have a part of the picture and can only facilitate personal development and growth if their client’s profile matches the style of coaching they were taught.
Don’t believe me? Let me give a simple example. Imagine a client goes to see a coach because the client is faced with a situation for which they have no frame of reference, no existing transferable knowledge or skills. They have admitted to themselves that they need help, which in itself is an important step in their personal development and growth! So, they ask the coach for advice and the latter, being trained in a non-directive way, asks “what do you think you should do?” Remember, the reason the client went to the coach in the first place is because they had no idea at all. The result? Frustration for the client who may well voice their feelings and walk out. If the client has a legitimate expectation that the coach will help them, the coach is failing in their role if they don’t!
Personal development and growth needs many kinds of help
The thing is, high quality coaching needs a variety of approaches, ranging from the non-directive questioning approach at one end of the continuum to directive, mentoring at the other and all shades in between. If you are the client, you can clarify the situation when looking for a potential coach by asking them about their style and explaining your expectations. If you are the coach, be aware that no one approach suits every client. Facilitating personal development and growth requires different strokes for different folks.