I’ve got a life… Who needs a bloody ‘Life Coach’?

Doctor as Life Coach

Or maybe the title should actually read – Life Coach WTF?

I don’t know about you but I can’t help myself, when I see terms like life coach, I have an uncontrolable urge to erupt with cynical scepticism. All I can think about is American’s in constant ‘therapy’ for one thing or another or, that old adage which says; those that can, do, those that can’t teach, or in this case coach.

Having said all that, you will understand my extreme surprise when I was notified by my Twitter account that I had a new follower – @sarahkennard  a “Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, Personal Trainer.”

Although I’ve always loved coaching others and helping them to help themselves, it took me a long time to heal myself enough to be able to heed my own advice and this meant that I wasted a lot of my life feeling unhappy and unfulfilled… (Sarah Kennard)

I have no wish to be disparaging about Ms Kennard or belittle any of the work she carries out. If what she does helps other people and makes her some money on the way, all well and good. The main thing that always makes me want to question the term life coach is; why do so many people apparently need ‘help’ to ‘celebrate’ who they are and ‘realise’ all they can be?

In business terms, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPD) report (Taking the Temperature of Coaching, 2009) found that; 51% of companies (sample of 500) ‘consider coaching as a key part of learning development’ and is ‘crucial to their strategy’, with 90% reporting that they ‘use coaching’.

More recently, research on behalf of the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), found that 80% of organisations used coaching but also, coaching appears more popular in larger organisations. 90% of organisations with over 2,000 employees had used coaching in the past five years, where as only 68% of companies with 230–500 employees had done the same (see key findings).

Creating Coaching Culture: We believe coaching is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways of developing individual and organisational performance.  As with sporting performance, coaching in the workplace sets goals and works towards them to unleash people’s full potential…(ILM)

There are many definitions of coaching, mentoring and various styles of management training: (a) Managing is making sure people do what they know how to do. (b) Training is teaching people to do what they don’t know how to do. (c) Mentoring is showing people how the people who are really good at doing something actually do it.

Coaching is none of these – apparently – it is “helping people to identify the skills and capabilities that are within them” and then “enabling them to use these skills to the best of their ability” (source wikipedia.org). In short a greater level of self-belief.

Irrespective of personal and organisational development advantages resulting from coaching, there is one thing for certain; the provision of coaching services is now big business. And today, as big business usually means big money, it’s no wonder so many have been diving into the coaching pool.

My reasearch into this topic, all be it relatively limited, also suggests that females tend to dominate in the field of professional coaching provision. Why is that I wonder? Could it be that females present themselves as more sympathetic, better able to listen and empathise with clients? Could it be they are more receptive and approachable than their male counterparts? Or, do women simply have a greater ability to identify the traits and skills required to be even more single-minded about any given aim or desire?

That said, I do know of two former male colleagues who are (apparently) having great success in this now popular business area.

David Collins, former Assistant Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police and a qualified Coach, Mentor and Senior Consultant, is CEO and Director of several coaching, training and consultancy companies (see here). In addition, Paul Ackerley, Chartered FCIPD and former Chief Superintendent of the same force, is the Director of Breathe Personal and Organisational Development.

But for any training to be effective, and to ensure that the information has actually been assimilated, you need to ask some searching questions about the whole learning process, coaching is no different.

Paul Ackerley suggests some of the questions to be considered when you’re looking for coaching services; is there an accurate training specification, what about the quality of the performance improver (aka trainer, coach), have you considered your own attitude as a learner and finally, what about the post training evaluation? In short you need to formulate a set of purposeful objectives in any training or coaching process.

Too often these factors are missed, by the learner and (sometimes) by the person delivering the coaching. The money earning potential is such that some unscrupulous companies and individuals will be evident. In my opinion and put simply, coaching is just about making you realize you can actually achieve, always assuming you market yourself correctly. NB.  The latter comment should in no way be connected to any of the services delivered by those providers already mentioned above.

There may be business theory and/or medical science behind the coaching process however my cynical head would ask; is it really any different to the advice and guidance you can get from a trusted and succesful friend or relative? The only major difference being is that you’ll be paying handsomely for coaching!

This dovetails nicely with my recent post, I love me who do you love, where I suggested; There is no ‘Self’ in Service, which in turn brings me to the pertinent point of this post. Once we get so preoccupied with our own self-promotion and personal achievements, isn’t there also a danger that we fail to fully consider the interests, desires and needs of others?

If that is the case, shouldn’t we be more worried about the (arguably) far too enthusiastic promotion of ‘self’ in those organisations responsible for delivery of our public services?

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One thought on “I’ve got a life… Who needs a bloody ‘Life Coach’?

  1. Right Dave, Do you want to tell me all about it? There may be no I in team, but there is a Tam in it!!!!


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