The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Trust in the coaching relationship

As with every profession, coaching has evolved and gained maturity. Taking the origin to be somewhere in the sports world coaching had a lot to do with skills and results. The idea was, that the better someone was at learning and using their skills, the faster they’d achieve results and win their competitions.

This was a perfect fit for the ideas and mindset of the organizational world as it has been for much of the last 150 years. In that time, an organization was mainly seen through a mechanical lens with assumptions on productivity, power, and hierarchy. Today these assumptions are represented by those business models that seek to scale, and imply quick results and winning.

Today other approaches have emerged. Some organizations are asking questions about the nature of the bottom line, others question how to measure an organization’s values. In other organizations, the way meaning is created shifts toward larger participation and deeper conversations of its members.

Learning skills is a process that is fairly straightforward and can be delimited quite well. Whatever is being learned can be aligned with a clear objective and has a link to the process that can be easily explained. It doesn’t promise a result, but as it addresses what is within one’s control, hard work seems to be the way to reach one’s goal. Even more so, when it is aligned with one’s abilities and the known competitors.

Trust can then be based on providing clear explanations, establishing clear goals, and assessing the progress together. There will be something that can be made measurable.

Things are different, when working on skills it isn’t sufficient anymore. Coaching now relates to one’s identity. Trust now is about feeling safe to develop one’s self with someone else. Meaning-making and applying one’s values are individual processes. There is no right answer and there is no unique answer. There is only the answer one decides upon for oneself.

Being clear now is much more about understanding and defining boundaries. It requires for example a self-awareness that knows when defense mechanisms take over to protect habitual boundaries.

While there might not be such a clear-cut distinction as I’m describing, it helps to open up to it. The objective is to gain flexibility in adapting one’s perspectives to the situation.



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