What is your coaching philosophy?

Apparently, a buyer of coaching recently commented that they were disappointed that few coaches can argue clearly what their philosophy is.

I’m curious. I can’t say I have ever been asked what my philosophy is. Not in a coaching context anyway. I am not really clear what they might mean.

As a scientist, I was brought up as a Popperian, which is probably why I conjecture a lot and refute a lot – I’m just not very good at getting the two to work together.

Whilst I am a non-conformist priest, I would describe myself as an agnostic and secularist – largely because I don’t feel that superstition is very reliable and certainly shouldn’t be running the country.

Someone once described me as the ‘irreverent reverend’ – but I think he was joking because I’m usually quite serious.

Someone did once ask me what my psychotherapeutic orientation was. I explained that I preferred to have my chair with its back to the window so that I could see the paper if I wrote any notes. She seemed happy.

But does any of this have any bearing on my coaching performance?

I generally believe that most people haven’t a clue what their maximum potential is – they have never considered it, and have never been in circumstances that allow it to reveal itself. Thus, I tend to believe that almost everyone has the potential to achieve far more than they are currently achieving. Whether they want to do so or not is another question. And whether the environment in which they are currently operating could ever allow them to achieve it is another.

Now I come to think about it, that’s probably why I spend quite a lot of time exploring those issues with my clients.

So, I suppose that is my ‘philosophy’. What about you? What’s yours?

All the best


  1. In asking a business coach to expand on their philosophy isn’t the questioner falling into the trap that so many writers on business over the last couple of decades have set for us, that of elevating business to the status of quasi religion, and themselves to the status of ‘guru’. And in asking about ‘philiosophy’ are they really asking the coach to explain which business guru’s teachings they follow, or if they are indeed a ‘guru’ themselves?

  2. Hello Michael

    Thanks for commenting. Yes, I’d pretty much agree with you. Hence my somewhat tongue-in-cheek posting! I’m not sure that business is being elevated to religious status as much as the act of commentating on it – which, in a way, is what a business coach is doing.

    If there’s one thing worse, to my mind, than a ‘guru’, it is a self-appointed guru. It amazes me how many people have the nerve to label themselves accordingly.

    All the best

  3. Is a guru just someone that knows more than there student? People buy fro people that they are attracted too for a number of reasons. You could be the best coach “GURU” in your mind – but have no empathy or understanding of the coaching issue. As a result the questions are wrong , the reflections are wrong . Philosophy to me means having integrity, putting client before bank balance, ensure a REAL ROI, add value where you can and propel that person to a better / suitable place in what ever capacity you are coaching them ? Just some observations ?
    I appreciate the GURU argument but I also think it devalues people who have genuine value . Who is to Judge ?

  4. Hello Jean. Thanks for commenting.

    I certainly have a problem with self-styled ‘gurus’. The previous edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the DSM-IV, has a Narcissistic personality disorder. I did once come across someone who fitted just about all the criteria. she was very comfortable with the idea that she was a ‘guru’ and that she was building a cult. She was also quite strong on developing rapport and appearing to demonstrate empathy. Undoubtedly, she had a lot to offer her followers. The question remains as to whether they were best served by this in the longer-term, but…

    Philosophy, in the way that you are describing it, feels to me more like the way I would refer to ethics. It is my ethical sense that makes me put clients first, so to speak.

    Interesting issues.

    Thanks again, Graham

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.