John Raymond on Organisational Coaching, Part I

John Raymond is IECL’s Head of Coaching, and a Principal Coach and Facilitator.  He will be facilitating a session on the Future of Coaching at ICF Advance: Forward in Portland, Oregon this October. Here John shares insights about the field of Organisational Coaching which IECL specialise in.

So John, put simply what is organisational coaching? First let’s define coaching as this is often confused. Coaching is a goal oriented, solution focussed, question based conversation to support the development of the coachee and achievement of their goals. Organisational coaching then is any coaching that goes on within the context of organisations – often around leadership.  This includes external executive coaches like myself, as well as employees of the organisation that have formal coaching responsibilities, often referred to as internal coaches. Just as it is important to define what organisational coaching is, it is important to define what it is not! It is not life coaching where you work with an individual on his or her personal goals (health, fitness, financial, relationship, etc). It is also important to distinguish between organisational coaching and business coaching. Business coaching focusses on business building and is a term often used by consultants who will advise a business owner on how to build a successful business (note: coaches don’t give advice).

How is it different to mentoring? Great questions! People so often talk about coaching and mentoring as the same thing, when in fact they are quite different. People seek a mentor because they have more experience than you, and therefore you want to learn from their experience to help you develop. You would expect a mentor to share their experience and give you some advice at times. When I explain the difference between coaching and mentoring I ask people "Where does the experience live in the relationship?" In a mentoring relationship it obviously sits with the mentor, in a coaching relationship it sits with the coachee. As a coach it is NOT your job to add your experience to the conversation (though you may have relevant experience to add), your job as a coach is support your coachee to become aware of their experience and utilise it in ways that will help them to achieve their development goal.

What is the uptake like here in Australia? Australia is one of the most mature coaching markets in the world and IECL taught the first Executive Coaching training in the world in 1999.  Australia had the first post graduate degree in coaching (Sydney University’s Master of Coaching Psychology) and we also have the first and only standard for coaching – the Guideline for Coaching in Organisations published by Standards Australia (available for purchase fromSAI Global). It is therefore not surprising that the uptake of coaching in organisations in Australia is as high as anywhere in the world. Most organisations would utilise coaching to varying levels.  That being said there is still much confusion about what coaching is and how it can help the development of leaders, though this is changing….slowly!

What about Asia where you frequently coach and facilitate? Interesting question! Westerners often think about "Asia" in the general sense using terms like "Asian culture" or " in Asia” but as we all know there are many countries and even more cultures that come together to make up "Asia". So the perception of coaching across the Asia region is as varied as Asia itself. For example, Singapore is quite advanced which was supported by the Singapore government seeking to build a coaching culture across the Singapore Public Service. Hong Kong is not far behind Singapore in maturity as it has always had a Western influence given its history and being a powerful hub for global companies, though the culture in Hong Kong is changing now almost 20 years after the handover in 1997. China is a very interesting case study for the uptake of coaching. Although coaching is relatively new, the uptake has been strong. I find Chinese business people ambitious, innovative and entrepreneurial so when a new "technology", i.e. coaching, comes along that is seen to add a competitive edge, they are quick to embrace it.  Other countries across Asia have varying levels of uptake. One common theme however is that a coaching approach is often led by the multinationals where coaching is part of the culture in their country of origin (USA, UK, European countries, Australia etc.)

John Raymond has been involved in coaching since it began to take hold in the Australasian region in the mid-1990s and he is passionate about the professionalisation of the industry. To this end, John has held leadership positions and contributed to various committees in the coaching industry over many years. His most recent contributions have been through his role as President for the International Coach Federation " Australasia.  He was also a member of the Standards Australia working party, which wrote the guideline for "Coaching in Organisations" – a global first.