Who gets coached and why?

After several years in the nowdays common coaching business and an extensive work with different groups of people I think it is time for me to ask some significant questions about the profession that more and more penetrates the society. The coach has been questioned before and the one-sided criticism has been insignificant when media has questioned the profession instead of looking at different aspects and reflecting why the coach has penetrated the market.

The words coach and coaching is now a trend and it seems that everybody should and will be coached in different situations and phases in life. The final evidence for this is SVT´s new comedy series ”The coaches” that just has come up on swedish television. Within the different wings and ramifications you find for example career-coaching, workingmarket-coaching and life-coaching which all have more and more become a balance of power between the coach and the coached, where one part is said to be more competent in a specific area. The original idea with Coaching, regardless of tools or certification methods, was that the coaching part should ask a few questions and thereby generate answers which in the next phase creates a change within the coached part. With the balance of power, as i have mentioned, the idea with this falls and the dependent part is steered into a specific direction and the result becomes more directive to its character. In the processes of consultation, mentorship, cognitive therapy, pedagogy or psychology it is easy to slide into this behaviour. It is hard to stay away from these tactics and methods to gain results. If we examine ourselves and study our work in the surroundings we know that grey areas and questionable applications over the boundaries is common nowdays. However it is important to emphasize that there are cases when this process is working exellent, but when more and more players is penetrating the market, trying to differentiate themselves from their opponents in marketing purpose, it is getting more and more difficult to stay within the coaching boundaries.

How has this profession succeeded to get such footing in the society of today and how come? If we look  back a few years there was hardly anybody who knew what the modern expression coach was about and back then the expression orginated from and connected to: in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a sports team or of individual sports people (Wikipedia). Why did the society and different functions of the society think that they needed to project these services? Is it a failure of a complex reality that more and more people find hard to master? Or of the educational system, that our reality is based on, that fails to prepare the individual for the problems of life? We should also ask ourselves if we are happier with the coachs penetration of the society and if the profession is needed to hold our noses over the surface or if it is our surroundings that makes us believe that we need this type of services?

During the years I have discovered that the urge among many coaches is the joy to see another person change and the knowledge that it is the coach that is the origin of this change. When I retired from this profession I came to reflect over a most interesting question: In the self-validating process/relation that comes up between the parties, who gets coached and why?

Niklas Liiv