Coaching Theory: Don’t put the cart before the horse

cart-before-the-horseCoaching is all about doing –having conversations, using tools, assessments, making plans, following up and evaluating performance.  It’s not about theory and models and research, right?  Unfortunately, this belief is all too common in coaching and has led many experts to question the validity of the coaching field.   When we put the cart before the horse, with the cart being practice and the horse being theory, we take a backwards approach to coaching practice and do a disservice to our clients and also our profession.

So let’s take a careful look at the horse, or the theory that drives coaching.  A great place to start is by reading Stober & Grant’s book Evidence Based Coaching.  Each chapter is devoted to the discussion of a different theory that drives coaching practice–from behaviorism to humanism to positive psychology–for a total of twelve theoretical discussions.

What’s my fav?  I am a big fan of positive psychology and feel that this relatively new theory lends itself to the practice of coaching.  In fact, I believe that coaching is the practical manifestation of this theoretical premise.  Here is a link to a Ted Talk by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of the movement. Remember, if you are viewing this in Blackboard, you’ll need to right click the link to open a new tab.

What are your thoughts about positive psychology and coaching?  What other theories do you think lend themselves to coaching practice?  Why have you selected them?


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