Fall 2000


Can you relate?

One way to relate to coaching is by remembering a time when someone you trusted encouraged you to seek your own vision and set your own goal.

They challenged and supported as you moved toward your goal.

They pointed you in the right direction when you lost your way, and celebrated your achievement when the goal was met.

They didn’t seek any reward for their support. They simply assisted you on your journey, a journey that may have transformed your life.

Find A Master Coach

International Coach Federation www.coachfederation.com: A non-profit credentialing organization setting standards for competency and performance. Provides coach referrals.

Organizations offering ICF credentialed programs, coaching and referral services for prospective clients:

Coaches Training Institute www.thecoaches.com

Coach Inc. www.coachinc.com

The Hudson Institute www.hudsoninstitute.com

The Newfield Network www.newfieldnetwork.com

Academy of Coach Training www.coachtraining.com





Coaching seems to be getting a lot of press these days. Maybe it’s because of the Olympics. Maybe it’s because many good business leaders have coaches pointing them in the right direction or suggesting paths to use. LiNE Zine recently caught up with Dr. Brenda Wilkins, one of the foremost researchers on coaching, and got her take on the intersection of elearning and coaching.


While most eLearning discussions focus on education and business applications, coaching discussions focus on new approaches to learning and human development. Coaches challenge how we learn by providing new learning processes. They allow learners to direct their own learning. Coaches seek to deliver the learning experience through technologies and interpersonal partnerships, and focus learning on goals and results. In the coaching process, coaches support learners as they aspire to and acquire new levels of learning, development, change, and achievement.

John Younger, serial-entrepreneur, is currently President and CEO of Accolo.com and Division President of VentureTalent.com. Younger, a former Olympic rowing athlete, hired a coach to catalyze his life and his business, “I needed dramatically accelerated professional growth to exceed my own learning pace. Everyone talks about keeping up with the pace of change—I needed to beat it. Inasmuch as I knew my company was growing 100% a year, I knew we were topping out. I knew the business would stall if I didn’t grow. It wasn’t about changing something in the business; it was about my own growth. Having competed at the Olympic level, I understood peak performance and the value of outside eyes guiding and assisting me.” Younger’s coach, Barbara Fagan (Fagan & Associates, Healdsburg, CA), helped him meet his goals by providing the support, challenge, and guided assistance that typifies coach-client relationships.

Stories like Younger’s triggered my jump into the unchartered waters of coaching research. I learned what coaching is and how it works, how coaching models the eLearning paradigm, and the broad-based use of coaching in organizations. I define coaching as a relationship where a coach supports, collaborates with and facilitates client learning. The coach helps a client identify and achieve goals through assessment, discovery, reflection, goal setting, and strategic action.

With a focus on the New Economy variables of process, people, knowledge and technology, coaching may be coined eCoaching before long. Understanding the coaching process, the technologies, and its alliance to elearning philosophies help us understand the relationship between these two important fields.

Coaching is Purpose, Process and People

Coaching is a transformative process where coaches support learners in aspiring to and acquiring new levels of learning, development, change, and achievement by focusing on Purpose, Process, and People.[1] Coaches work to facilitate the clients’ learning and change by using the three P’s. At a time when learning is both the watchword for survival and the culture-quest of many organizations, the coaching process can enhance learning in the New Economy.

 Purpose reflects clients’ core values and priorities. Clients set goals that align with their values and priorities. At the core of all goals is the assumption that clients can and must strive for optimal learning and development. Coaches can help clients define and clarify these goals.

 Process reflects the coaching strategies of 1) consciousness raising, 2) supporting, and 3) challenging. The client-customized application of the strategies, in combination with the focus on purpose, creates a unique environment for learning.

 People reflects the unique coach-client relationships. Whether a single coach-client partnership or a team of coaches and clients are working together, the emphasis is on developing relationships that support learning and change. The coach will be client-focused and the relationship egalitarian.

When I first encountered the rapidly growing profession of coaching, I wondered how it emerged? Roughly 15 years ago, coaching emerged as a new practice and, from the beginning, has been a technology profession. There must have been a need and, with the availability of the technology, the need could more easily be met. Several individuals began practicing coaching strategies to bring about lasting learning. One leader, Thomas Leonard, founded CoachU.com, the first formalized coach training program. According to the International Coach Federation, the rapid growth that followed has resulted in a global community of coaches and coaching schools.

Using the technology of the time, coaching emerged as an online learning profession, growing more technologically sophisticated as the technology industry matured. Although some coaches meet their clients for coaching sessions, the International Coach Federation reports that 94% of coaching takes place using technology including phone calls, bridge lines, email, and other collaborative Internet tools.

Even though mastering technology applications is an intriguing aspect of the coaching profession, the real understanding of coaching’s impact comes when we look at the application of coaching as an elearning process. Coaching, is still a young profession but it already resembles the elearning paradigm.

Coaching Models the eLearning Paradigm

Coaching's purpose, process, people, and philosophy, coupled with sophisticated technology applications, are similar to those of elearning. The following list describes the similarities:

1. Anytime, anywhere—without boundaries of time or space
2. With and without formal learning structures and curriculums
3. Facilitated by subject experts and non-experts
4. Learner-directed, results-oriented
5. Customized to individual and organizational contexts
6. Identifiable and measurable
7. Action and performance based
8. Focused equally on learning how to learn and what is learned
9. Efficient and subject to adaptation
10. Relationship oriented

Learning with a coach, however, is different than a traditional learning experience. Exploring and understanding coaching challenges what we believe about learning: how learning occurs, who can facilitate learning, and even how we define learning in the New Economy.

First, coaching is not content focused; it is process focused. Although clients often seek content goals, learning occurs in two ways. It occurs during goal achievement, and it occurs in the coaching process. A coach helps the client to achieve the expected, but also to learn the unexpected.

Second, coaching does not assume learning must be facilitated by an expert. It can be driven by the learner’s questions and goals with or without expert support. The learner’s motivation and commitment to action are the greatest predictors of learning.

Third, learning is seen as both cognitive and behavioral, shifting results in the identifiable actions and changes from the learner. Learning is not only reflection and action, but also the interaction between the two.

We still have a great deal to discover about coaching. With more questions than answers, ongoing inquiry, discussion, and debate are eminent. In the meantime, individuals and organizations using coaching and compiling anecdotal data indicate coaching is a powerful process.

Coaching Goes Global

Multinational organizations like Goldman-Saks, Baxter Healthcare, Boeing, Coca-Cola Foods, and General Motors use coaching to create a spirit of learning. Individuals seek out coaches as partners in the re-creation of their lives and careers. Metaphorically speaking, coaching’s bandwidth is extraordinary when organizations view coaching as a viable process to help meet the immense learning demands of the 21st Century.

Consider General Motors and Boeing, two organizations who use coaching. Angie Sokol, Associate Dean at General Motors University, explains that new executives routinely receive a coach their first year at General Motors. According to Blake Emery, Boeing Senior Organizational Development Consultant, Boeing’s human resource mission is to “create a coaching culture.” It is not just the giants that understand the value of coaching. The young generation of fast moving entrepreneurs knows that coaching helps them compete, beat, and succeed in the new economy.

Remember John Younger, the serial-entrepreneur with whom our story began? With coach Fagan’s support, Younger worked to advance his own growth and learning. The impact was dramatic, but not unexpected in the coaching profession. Younger raised the bar of growth and accountability for himself and his employees. In one month, VentureTalent.com doubled its revenues, moving the company to a new level of growth that it has sustained.

Now as Younger pours energy into launching Accolo.com—a quantum leap company that challenges current recruiting practices—he sees the ongoing application of coaching. “I get direct feedback I couldn’t get any other way coupled with tremendous business acumen. The single biggest contribution from coaching is the degree of clarity a coach brings to the table. If I don’t grow personally I am not going to go too far professionally,” Younger explains.

Younger and others who have experienced coaching often emphatically describe how coaching catalyzes their learning. They talk about the benefits in being supported and challenged. They acknowledge that coaching requires an aggressive commitment to learning and change. They know the key to New Economy success is meeting and maybe even beating the speed of learning and change. They also know they can better achieve this acceleration with good coaching.

Coaching requires rigorous commitment from coach and client, and a vision for targeted, creative learning. With the philosophies and strategies in place, coaching can be the elearning process to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

[1] Wilkins, B. M. “The Coaching Distinction: A Research Based Model of Coaching,” work in progress.

Dr. Brenda Wilkins is President of Big Sky Learning Institute, a learning and leadership consulting firm. For more information about coaching contact Dr. Wilkins directly bsli@aol.com.




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