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Interview with professor David Megginson: Fresh insights on coaching

Posted By Tomas Misiukonis On February 5, 2012 @ 10:33 am In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Coachingblog.lt is very proud to present an interview with David Megginson who is one of  the “fathers” of coaching. An Emeritus Professor of  Human Resource Development (HRD) in Sheffield Business School, David has published 17 books on HRD, many of them about coaching and mentoring but also about HRD itself, continuous professional development, self-development and learning from burnout. David is now working on the book Rethinking Goals which will bring a new perspective on goals in coaching.



David, how did you become so involved in coaching?

I wrote a book – A manager’s guide to coaching -  which was published in 1979. This focused on manager as coach, and I only became a one-to-one helper through mentoring initially. I worked one-to-one with senior executives who were using my team building or organisation development services. As I moved to thinking of myself as a coach, I have become less keen on doing OD as well as coaching. For me now the focus is on one-to-one. However, I also work with some clients on creating a coaching culture.

 What inspires you personally about coaching?

I love having the opportunity to work with clever, thoughtful people making sense of their own world. I also enjoy the challenge of working with heavily defended, narcissistic individuals – though this is much more demanding.

Were there any moments in your career when you felt doubts whether coaching works?

Every day. If you don’t have that sort of critical perspective on your work you can become complacent.

What is the recent area of your research in coaching? Would you kindly share some of your latest important research insights or findings?

We are researching goals in coaching for a book that is coming out later this year – the title will be Rethinking goals. We are developing an earlier survey with some focused questions about the place that experience and coach education have in encouraging or discouraging the use of goals. Our null hypotheses are that experience has no effect on use of goals and that education has no effect on use of goals. I expect experience to decrease the reliance on goals and education in coaching to increase the reliance on goals. We will complete the analysis of the data in the next two months. A simple questionnaire is attached: Goals in Coaching Questionnaire [2]. We also have lots of great case studies of creating a coaching culture for the second edition of our book Making coaching work: Creating a coaching culture.

What are the latest trends in coaching in terms of its application?

Team coaching both by internal and external coaches; sponsors of coaching taking over the ownership of the coaching agenda from external coaches; mindfulness coaching; linking lean/6 sigma/quality management approaches and coaching; a critical perspective on goals; creating a coaching culture (though I would say the last two, wouldn’t I?)

The emerging activity of team coaching in organisations – how can managers be motivated to become team coaches instead of team leaders?

Experience it for themselves as members of their boss’s team.

We know about the benefits of coaching in organisations. What are the risks/downsides of becoming a coaching manager? Are the any serious sacrifices managers have to make?

They have to park their egos at the office door. They have to be prepared to ask a few simple questions every time they are asked for a decision. They have to abandon the fantasy of being able to exercise complete control.

Can you provide any advice for managers whose motivation to coach is decreasing because of the resistance from their employees and organisations?

With employees we need to ask ‘what are the pressures in our society pushing employees towards dependency?’ With organisations we can ask ‘Is this a place where I can thrive and bring my wisdom to the workplace? If not, it is time to move on.

I have heard few opinions about the danger of setting SMART goals in coaching what does your practice say about that?

I would not say it was dangerous – just pointless! The people I coach are all so results focused that if they could have formulated a SMART goal they would have already resolved it. Coaching is primarily about the ‘wicked problems’ that offer dilemmas rather than simple choices.

What is the risk of using models such as GROW and other in coaching?

The risk is that we engage in a dull routine rather than maintaining present moment awareness of what our client is doing or saying. I have a particular concern with GROW that it encourages setting goals right at the start of the coaching process. Many clients are not ready for setting goals at this stage. Some clients will never be ready to do this.

Is it enough to have the “right” attitude and skills and call myself a professional coach?

I like to understand deeply my client’s world, and to have an empathy for what they are seeking to do. We need to have a complete commitment to Continuous Professional Development.

Regarding coach’s development – let’s assume that a coach has earned a credential, acquired a number of practice hours and is attending supervision sessions…what would be a good strategy for further development of that coach, say for the next 3-5 years?

Look at the areas that they might be afraid to coach in, and ask, ‘How could I become capable of working in this area if the situation arose?’

The year 2012 has already started, what will it bring for us coaches and coaching profession?

There will be more work available for the best coaches; there will be more competition for the rest of us. Sponsors of coaching in organizations will take over the agenda for coaching – external coaches will have to get used to meeting their requirements.

What is your vision on coaching in three-five years?

There will be two global coaching organisations focused primarily on external coaches. Internal coaches will be much more prevalent and they will be represented by HR professional bodies. More people not offered coaching by their organization will buy it for themselves. Coaching will become shorter-term; it will be available on demand; it will be electronically mediated – Twitter coaching. Less 60 year old coaches – more 25 year olds.

Is there a universal recipe for personal change?:)

Of course: come to our seminar in Lithuania!

This post is also available in: Lithuanian [3]

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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://coachingblog.lt/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/david1.jpg

[2] Goals in Coaching Questionnaire: http://coachingblog.lt/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Goals-in-Coaching-Questionnaire2.doc

[3] Lithuanian: http://coachingblog.lt/

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