Coaching in many ways has been with us for years. It’s really not a new concept. Maybe what’s new is that in the last two decades it has become a legitimate part of the workplace lexicon. For the most part, however, coaching has been disproportionately seen as an intimate, one-on-one, relationship between an experienced guiding light and a aspiring or floundering pupil.
There’s been a lot of confusion about coaching, about the role of boundaries in coaching, about the role of authority in coaching, and when coaching is or is not appropriate.
The coaching literature has become massive. There is a deluge of academically relevant material, practitioner material, and the coaching perspectives have become so varied that, at times, it seems that it’s become a label looking for focus.
For two and a half years my researchers and I, including my co-author Yael Bacharach, have waded our way through coaching material in an effort to synthesize a coaching process for the workplace. The challenge was to find those key skills critical to workplace coaching.
In pursuing our work (which has recently been made available through eCornell: Part 1 & Part 2) in coaching what became clear immediately was that coaching was an integral part of a set of proactive leadership skills. In order to lead in an organization, at any level, you have to have (in this day and age) the micro-skills of coaching. For us that meant, supplementing the traditional skills of supervisors with the micro-skills of a coach. But as you will see in our series of columns on coaching, the micro-skills of a coach doesn’t mean you have to be a football coach, doesn’t mean you have to be a cheerleader, doesn’t mean you have to be a therapist, it means you have to understand that traditional supervision doesn’t always work.
Over the next number of weeks we will be dealing with the unique attributes that makes coaching successful in the work place.