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Professor David Lane & Dr Michael Cavanagh

Coaching as of 2008, 2018, and look forward to 2028

Stream: Transform
Area: Coaching
Type: Workshop
Style: Mainly Lecture

Session on Friday, Apr 26, 09:00
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This presentation will present some ideas and invite dialogue with participants to explore what we have learned from our experience and how we might face the challenges of the future.

By the early part of this century coaching was widespread in organisations but they were increasingly asking for an evidence base to support the practice There were also demands for some form of recognition and regulation that could be supported across the industry. Each of the emerging associations in the field were treading their own individual paths to define the field and what constituted practice. Two areas attached initial attention, the need for a code of ethics and understanding on competent practice. Unfortunately, the answers that emerged from the associations varied both in methodology and outcomes.

It became apparent that a process was needed to bring together these associations, practitioners, trainers and clients into a dialogue to both understand the present and dream about the future. This came to fruition in a one year process of discussion between over 200 coaches worldwide culminating in a five day dialogue in Dublin in 2008 to discover, design and dream a potential future for our field. The result was a the issuing of a Dublin Declaration which set out an ambitious timeframe and objectives for associations to begin to work together to agree core themes.

During this session Dr Lise Lewis will explore the issues faced by the delegates in Dublin, what we learned and the solutions sought.

Since this date many initiatives to build the field have taken place in Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia and have moved the agenda. The EMCC, in particular, has developed extensive work on ethics and competences as well as standards of training and practice. Some of this work has take place within the EMCC family (which has expanded to include Asia Pacific as well as collaborations in South Africa). However, the EMCC has also reached out in the spirit of Dublin to other bodies and a number of joint initiatives have emerged. The most successful of these have centred on a joint ethical code, but work on competences and accreditation has also been shared across the associations. They have also been key participants in discussions on the Future of Coaching. Denise Whitworth, EMCC International Vice-president Accreditation will explore some of the work by EMCC to date.

While within the coaching field we have continued to explore some of the themes identified in Dublin the world of professional practice has increasingly come under attack both through wider access by clients to the knowledge bases previously held by professions and challenges to the ethical assumptions of practice, given that so many professionals now act as employees rather than autonomous practitioners. The assumptions we make have also been challenged by research which disputes the role of competences as a viable basis for understanding practice. Ideas form developmental psychological, expertise theory, social material practice research and practice theory all provide a fundamental challenge to competences as a model. Within industry the role of purpose has also emerged as an underpinning to thriving organisations and we have more awareness of how expertise develops over time. Experts do not simply act as more experienced novices but think and act differently. As online work, Artificial Intelligence and programmed textual products have appeared it is recognised that what we do is part of a broad set of social material factors which influence what a professional does in day to day. Practice theory has challenged us to look not at practitioners (their competences) but rather practices. This emphasis undermines the idea that we should assess our work through a competence based model. David Lane will explore the challenges we face as professions in an increasingly complex word.

This theme of complexity and the increasingly high stress contexts in which we work will be taken up by Michael Cavanagh who will explore possible futures within which we as coaches might have a role. Business, Governments and societal groups of all types have entered a new era of complexity driven (in part) by the hyper-connectivity of the modern world. This age of complexity requires the development of new understandings of leadership, based on bigger perspectives and purposes if the practical outcomes of leadership are to result in successful and sustainable organisations in the longer term. Traditionally, coaches, have sought to help leaders meet the challenges of complexity by providing them with interpretive frameworks and processes designed to simplify their worlds. For example, leaders and followers alike have been asked to accept change as the new normal, embrace ambiguity, deal with volatility, and when all else fails, as a way to deal with the resulting tension they are offered positive psychology practices and “resilience” programmes to help them cope. Unfortunately, our current understandings, models and assumptions about business and leadership are getting in the way of this critical task and do not offer new ways of navigating the bewildering complexity of the modern world and of using the tension creatively. As we move to 2028 coaches will need to take tension and complexity seriously and provide a pathway to working with tensions in sustainable and effective ways.


David A Lane is Director and co-founder of the Professional Development Foundation. As well as contributing to research and the professional development of coaching, Professor Lane has coached in a wide range of organisations including major consultancies, multinationals, and public sector and government bodies. He has also pioneered the international development of work based masters and doctorate degrees for experienced coaches. He has published widely on coaching and supervision.

He was Chair of the British Psychological Society Register of Psychologists specialising in psychotherapy and convened the European Federation of Psychologists Associations group on psychotherapy. He has served on committees of BPS, CIPD, WABC, and EMCC, as well as being a founder member of the Global Coaching Community. His contributions to counselling psychology led to the senior award of the BPS for “’Outstanding Scientific Contribution’. In 2009 the British Psychological Society honoured him for his Distinguished Contribution to Professional Psychology. In 2016 he was made an Honorary Associate of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for contributions to developing the field of general practice and the professional development of its members and also was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He also holds a life time achievement award from the University of Surrey (UK) for contributions to Applied Psychology.

Dr Michael Cavanagh is both an Academic and Practitioner. He is currently the deputy director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at the University of Sydney (Australia) and visiting professor at the Institute of work based learning at Middlesex University (UK). He is also the Australian co-ordinating Editor the International Coaching Psychology Review. He has coached leaders and managers at all levels from a diverse range of public and private, national and multinational organizations.

Michael leads a team of researchers in a 3.5 million dollar research project investigating leadership development and coaching in high stress workplaces. He is also the principal author of the Standards Australia Handbook of Organisational Coaching – one of the world’s first ISO aligned National Standard for the provision of coaching services, the training of coaches and management of workplace coaching programmes.

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