By Leni Wildflower
From the Preface: As coaches we have responsibilities: to master the skills of our trade, to work on the issues in ourselves that might obstruct or distort our dealings with clients, to be ethical, to acknowledge limitations and recognize boundaries, to justify the trust clients put in us. We also have a responsibility to understand the intellectual underpinnings of our fledgling profession.
Some of us have an instinctive ability to draw people toward greater insight; some of us have to work at it. But we all need to understand what we do when we coach, to recognize that coaching has not sprung fully formed from the protocols of our coaching schools or the minds of individuals, however dynamic and innovative, but has grown from a rich tilth of wisdom and study.
Some of this knowledge is the direct history of coaching. Much of it could be thought of as coaching’s prehistory—ideas developed in entirely independent fields before coaching in its modern sense was conceived of. But far from dry or dutiful, these explorations have the power to continually reignite our sense of coaching as a living practice.
In each of the chapters that follow there is a progression from theory to application, studying first a model or a set of findings in the context of a particular discipline and then identifying the implications for the practicing coach. There is a mind-opening diversity in this, but also a striking unanimity. Coaching may derive from the confluence of many rivers, but it flows with its own powerful current.
This book is an outgrowth of the vision and design of Fielding Graduate University’s Evidence Based Coaching certificate program. As the EBC Program designer and director, initially I put together a manual on the knowledge base of coaching and its application to the coaching engagement. Diane Brennan (former President of the International Coach Federation) urged me to turn the manual into a book so that the theories on which coaching rested would be made available to coaches and coaching students outside of Fielding.
As Diane and I began to put the book together, it became clear that coaching did not rest solely on theories borrowed from related disciplines. It also rested on knowledge and traditions—from the self help traditions of the sixties, from spirituality, from religious traditions, and from coaching protocols designed more recently by creative coaches. This book accomplishes a very important task: It DIRECTLY LINKS coaching theories and knowledge to the skills involved in the coaching engagement.
For the beginning coach, this information is invaluable in creating a professional practice. For the advanced coach, this information provides a deeper understanding of the work they are already doing. And for the profession of coaching, it creates legitimacy and status—important ingredients as we grow.
Leni Wildflower, PhD, co-editor
Editors and contributing authors Leni Wildflower, PhD, PCC and Diane Brennan, MBA, MCC are leading consultants, educators and coach practitioners.
Leni envisioned and launched Fielding Graduate University’s evidence based coaching program. Diane took on leadership roles in the International Coach Federation, serving as ICF global president in 2008.