Becoming a Coach: The Making of a Yoda

When I started coaching in organizations 25 years ago, coaching was mostly for people who were causing problems and needed to be fixed, so to speak.

In some places, coaching is still perceived as remedial help but I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that no organization is investing in that anymore. Coaching today is for the high potentials and the most valuable players.

At Blanchard Coaching Services, we coach people in organizations. The people we coach are capable, highly intelligent, and endowed with a remarkable work ethic and a drive to succeed.

Coaching works for these folks because each of our clients sees themselves as a hero or heroine of their own fantastic journey. Their coach is a reminder of who they are and where they are going.  Each of our clients is like Luke Skywalker and their coach is their Yoda.  Anyone up to something truly worthwhile could use a Yoda. Thomas Leonard, one of my many mentors and coaches, once said something that has become a mantra for me: “Anything worth doing is worth getting help with.”

And yet, as a one of the founding members of the International Coach Federation, I am deep in the conversation about how to train Yodas and how to regulate the practice of being Yoda for people.  It is complicated. The public needs to be protected from people without the skills or mindset of an accredited coach. Coaching skills alone are not enough, however, and assessing the competence of coaches is inexact at best.

In an article for Choice magazine entitled Avoiding the Iceberg, my pal Terrie Lupberger writes about the rules that can help a coach do just that.

David Goldsmith, who was my coach at a critical moment in my career, believes that soon, “good enough” coaches will be replaced by artificial intelligence.  He is worried that there is no one teaching good coaches how be great coaches.  Unlike Yoda, we don’t have the option of the benefit of 700 years of experience. Goldsmith defines the masterful coach as someone who has the discernment and judgment to choose the right tool from their massive toolbox to share with the client.

In his article Do Great Coaches Break the Rules? Goldsmith writes: “Most long-standing coaches not only fluidly and fluently dance between the distinctions of coaching, consulting, counseling, and training, they also are constantly customizing solutions and approaches for their clients from an eclectic and deep repertoire of methods, processes, and skills.   The current ‘rules’ don’t include this behavior in the usual definitions of coaching.”

In my own article, What Are We So Afraid of? I outline the polarity between asking and telling that a coach needs to navigate to be of true service to the client.

Food for thought for anyone interested in this ongoing philosophical debate.

As Yoda would say, “Invited are your insights!”

About the Author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.


2 thoughts on “Becoming a Coach: The Making of a Yoda

  1. Yoda is a great symbol of the partnership that is significant to coaching, where we partner with creative, resourceful, and whole (not broken) travelers on their journey to help them keep moving forward missing few pitfalls as possible with their own eyes. Being a part of the Association of Coach Training Schools as well as the ICF, I do know that around the world there are some good coaching schools constantly working on how they teach their students to deepen their presence (I think coach mastery is the deepening of presence), be more aware of their privilege and bias, and to yearn to go beyond good enough. I think we need to make these practices more visible and accessible so coaches can always know “what’s next.” The ICF is even working on a better definition and evaluation, if it is possible, for Master Certified Coach. Coaching is a journey, as so is coach training. Thank you Madeleine for the conversation!

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