Is there such a thing as a type of coach? Can we categorise your group? Join our tongue-in-cheek conversation and find your ‘place’ in the profession
It’s said there are two types of people: those who think there are two types of people, and those who don’t.
Dividing and categorising can naturally lead to division, stereotyping, labelling, etc. Not good. But it seems irresistible to writers, academics and anyone wishing to proffer a model. Remembering the mantra, ‘All models are wrong, some are useful’, seeing how people/ideas/observations might be grouped together can reveal useful insights.
And so we’re reflecting on conversations we have heard over recent years around our professional and profession’s role in tackling the big social, economic and environmental realities that are unfolding. Knowingly entering a little hypocrisy, and just for fun, here’s a thought: Which tribe do you belong to?
The ‘Don’t Cares’
We really have met people in the profession for whom the travails of anyone other than their client have no concern for them.
Key statement: ‘Not my problem’
The ‘Client Agendas’
These people truly care about their work and what is happening in the world. But the sanctity of the client’s agenda is all. As coach, bringing our own views and values into the conversation is a travesty of what coaching is all about. Intentionally raising a client’s awareness of their impact in the bigger system and vice versa is simply a version of ‘our own agenda’.
Key statement: ‘Trust the coaching process and it will all work out’
The ‘Yes, But Hows’
Coaches in this tribe would truly love to make more of a difference, but are currently not sure of exactly what difference they want their work to make, or don’t know how to ethically bring what they care about to the client and the conversation, or are scared of how clients and potential clients might react if they let their thoughts be known.
Key statement: ’I wish I could resolve this inner struggle’
The ‘Good Guys, Bad Guys’
Coaches in this tribe are clear on what they stand for and have removed sufficient of their concerns to be able to stand up in public and tell the world. A distinction is that this tribe divides the world into those who agree with their worldview or may be open to it (good guys) and those whose work/organisations/leadership is of the devil’s own making (bad guys). They stand fearlessly for something, and against something else.
Key statement: ‘This is the answer’
The ‘All is Ones’
This tribe again know what they stand for. Though it may be specifically different for each, they have the common ground of ‘the common good’. They have found the way they feel is ethical to openly share where they are coming from with their clients. The distinction for these people is that the difference they want their work to make requires many types of clients and organisations to work together, including those who may be currently labelled as messing things up. Non-judgement extends beyond the client. This is a land of the systemic, resolving paradoxes, building bridges and creating shared futures.
Key statement: ‘It’s all connected – we’re all in this together’
Is your tribe here? Are there others? It would be wonderful to map a distribution of coaches. We’d love to hear from you, and your story of finding and being in your tribe:
Dr Alister Scott and Neil Scotton of The One Leadership Project are helping those leading their organisations to ‘Think Beyond’ and ‘Act as One’.
This article originally appeared in Coaching at Work in September 2015