When I was invited to speak at the San Francisco meeting of the PCMA, I didn’t know what to expect. Would these be business or life coaches, backgrounds in business, therapy, training? Are they really practicing their craft or wannabees talking to each other? Would they be open or more competitive? Are they steeped in a particular model and interpreting the world through that lens?
The experience of the evening was a very pleasant and interesting one. The volunteers running the meeting greeted me and helped me get all the equipment situated, making sure I had a place at the dinner table. Lively conversations were going on at every table. Some members were continuing discussions that had begun in pre-meeting interest groups, including a learning lab on neuroscience with friend and colleague Janet Crawford.
A few familiar faces appeared and we renewed our acquaintance. Each person with whom I spoke knew at least several facets of coaching and were eager to share material. Among other topics, we touched on Somatic Coaching, Five Rhythms and Strozzi forms of movement awareness, Spiral Dynamics, differentiated from Five Dynamics, the Kolbe Conative Index, the Enneagram, and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. These people had a broad understanding of the field as well as their specialties.
When we did activities as part of my program, people engaged enthusiastically. They shared ahas and insightful questions. I felt comfortable in the community of peers.
Early in my talk, I asked the group what kinds of clients they were serving. Answers included
-county and local government employees
-federal Health and Human Services employees
and a few more.
Even in what we are calling a down economy, coaches inside and outside organizations are assisting clients in many fields. This form of learning and development, introduced in many workplaces beginning in the late 90’s, has apparently taken root.
With the overload of information and stimuli, increasing global and technical acceleration, and pressure-filled personal lives, one-on-one coaching appears to be a time-value activity that keeps people afloat. Rather than the remedial solution that used to signal a likely firing, coaching is a perk for the upwardly mobile and the people who are being stretched thin by expanding responsibilities.
It is a healthy sign for our society and organizational cultures if this is so. Many more executives, managers, and HRD departments would do well to take advantage of the available resources.
Vetting a coach is a skill set in itself, and should not be taken lightly. Competence and chemistry are very important. Potential coach clients should use references and their intuition in early conversations to determine whether a coach’s offer is right for them.
With this caveat in mind, I have to say that the roomful of people who attended my talk this week struck me as highly competent, clear on what they could offer, learning from and with each other, and probably a great referral source for people in the SF Bay area ready to check out working with a coach.
I am available to refer prospective clients to coaches based on a personal knowledge of various people’s work. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to provide names of excellent Bay Area and East Coast coaches.