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Challenging Coaching

Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS

By John Blakey and Ian Day
  • Read in 16 minutes
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  • Contains 10 key ideas
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Challenging Coaching by John Blakey and Ian Day

Challenging Coaching argues that traditional coaching is limited by its therapeutic origins. Blakey and Day introduce a better alternative for the twenty-first century business environment: the FACTS approach. Its emphasis on demanding challenging Feedback, Accountability, Courageous Goals, Tension and Systems Thinking drives a client to achieve their full potential.

Key idea 1 of 10

Traditional coaching’s original influences were mainly support oriented.

Even though it might seem to have existed forever, the coaching profession is actually still in its teenage years. When it first emerged in the 1980s, it was still very much a toddler, and easily influenced by its older peers – like psychotherapy and counselling.

This influence means that coaching shares a core foundation with support-oriented counselling disciplines where the client gets unconditional positive backing.

For example, active listening and powerful questioning are the two skill sets that are fundamentally required for counselling, mentoring, therapy – and coaching. These skills are considered necessary for developing an understanding of a client’s needs – which is the starting point of all progress – and helping them find their own answers, which is key to self-determination, a major value of support-oriented disciplines.

But when coaching was born, it knew none of all this. So, in search of orientation, coaching took its biggest inspiration from person-centered therapy.

Person-centered therapy was developed by Carl Rogers, one of the most influential therapists of the twentieth century, renowned for his humanist methodology. His non-directive approach is based on the fundamental belief that a client already possesses the vast resources necessary for development. The therapist's role is to help the client find their own solutions by creating a safe space for growth using empathy (seeing through another’s eyes), congruence (being completely open and honest) and unconditional, non-judgmental positive regard. These principles have become the foundation for traditional coaching models.

For example, the popular Co-Active Coaching model significantly overlaps with Carl Rogers’ principles: the client is considered naturally resourceful, the agenda comes from the client, and the relationship is an alliance designed for the client’s growth.

Another example is the well-known GROW model, which also shares its main assumptions with Rogers: The client is considered able to find their own solutions, empathy is focused to create a safe space, and understanding is developed through non-directive questioning.

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