Models of Coaching and The Blind Men & The Elephant

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In regular banter with fellow coaches, not very different from the “Barber Shop Talk” experience I was part of when I lived in New York City where topics were hotly contested, we debate issues specific to coaching like: navigating the nuances of team coaching, having and / or developing the gravitas to coach leaders, why life coaching approaches don’t always work in a corporate setting and situations when they do, etc., the conversations subliminally often center on specific models of coaching.


In the past, I was often an active participant in the banter, but more and more I find myself going silent and becoming an observer to the conversation and thinking of the parable The Six Blind Men & The Elephant.


Recognizing Blindness

For most coach-practitioners who have been actively working in the field, a majority would have been trained and certified by what are called industry-specific trade organizations versus university-specific coach development programs.


I share this not to invalidate one over the other, but rather to position a majority of industry-specific trade organizations develop coach certification programs based on their own patent trademark design, and encourage the use of their models.


The privilege of being trained as a coach, and later meeting the rigors of a coach certification process can be a bit of a double edge sword e.g. rewarding experience strengthening your muscle to coach and potentially enabling a partial blindness similar to what the six blind men experience when they encountered an elephant for the first time.

Unblocking Blindness to Expand Coaching Prowess

The essential learning from this parable is none of the six men were wrong in their exact descriptions of the elephant, but they were only accessing a perspective – a smaller part of a bigger picture, and drawing conclusions based on it.

The unintentional impact of strict reliance on a coaching model in practice is, as coach-practitioners, we may be missing out on the bigger picture of coaching; missing out on the opportunity for greater impact in our coaching.

To safeguard against this,

“what are you deliberating practicing to maintain congruence to the bigger picture of coaching?”

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David Ribott International is a socially conscious coaching and consulting company empowering clients who are committed to a triple-bottom-line approach focused on people, performance, and profit by cultivating leadership effectiveness.

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