Introducing my second guest: Jonathan Passmore

In the second episode my guest is Professor Jonathan Passmore. If you have not heard of him previously, Jonathan is an internationally renowned expert in coaching research and practice. He is the professor of coaching at Henley Business school, and Senior VP CoachHub, the digital coaching platform, which employs over 3500 coaches worldwide.

Over a 40-year career, he has worked in government, not-for-profits, and the commercial sector, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM, and OPM, focusing on organizational change, coaching, and leadership development. He is a chartered psychologist, holds five degrees, and is a master coach, a team coach, and a coaching supervisor. He has published widely with over 100 scientific papers, 100 + book chapters and 38 books. His most recent books include:

I first met Jonathan personally in one of the EMCC research conferences and in our conversation, I got overwhelmed by his insights and ideas. We talked about coaching organizations and how their cooperation and competition are shaping the landscape of the profession. How the different internal processes of EMCC and ICF (and AC) were impacting their research activities and the engagement of their membership.

We did talk a lot about research as well as he was presenting about the different types of research activities around coaching. What I immediately liked in that conversation was his tremendous level of energy. Since then, as I was following his work closely, I still wonder how he does all these things at the same time. (There must be some secret magic in the background.) 

Let me highlight a few things from Jonathan’s works that have caught my attention recently. Although I am not a member of ICF, I loved his (and Tracy Sinclair as a co-author’s) book: “Becoming a coach, the essential ICF guide”. This volume provides a hands-on description of the coaching competencies with examples and interpretations: a great compendium for anyone who wishes to engage with coaching. Also, specific coaching tools, ideas on developing a coaching practice, overview of the different coaching approaches are all there. Why am I highlighting this volume in the first place? Because it is so easy to read and understand. It helps to – in a good sense – tear down the mystery around coaching and shows that it is like a “regular” profession. I am a fan of clear communications, and this book does deliver on this. 

"Jonathan is great in writing and speaking to different audiences. 

It would be a challenge to highlight anything out from Jonathan’s scientific contributions. The last book I have read from him was “Coaching Researched” that he edited together with Dr David Tee. Quite the contrary to the previous volume, this book needs focused attention. The first chapter talks about definitions: 'How should counselling, therapy, mentoring and coaching psychology be defined. For me – a psychologist turned coach – this was an important piece to read. Most of the people I know don’t care if their ‘supporter’ is called a coach, a mentor, or a coaching psychologist – as long as the support they provide is appropriate and professional. But as ‘supporters’ we should have a clear understanding of the differences and boundaries of our professions – so we can act together in a systemic manner to create a synergy of our services. So, if you are interested in the boundaries and the details of definitions then this chapter is a must read.  

Another read from this book is a study of coaching supervision. Using the grounded theory methodology and a small sample the authors sketch out a conceptual framework of coaching supervision. Why I found this piece interesting is that it shows that it is not just the big numbers (quantitative studies) that can only make a difference. Starting with a smaller sample and a limited exploratory focus can be a – and is sometimes a must needed – start for a long-term research project.     

Jonathan's latest project exploring the future of coaching and the impact of Covid on coaches, the coaching industry and coach education has just been published as an Open Access paper.

So long story short, Jonathan does an amazing lot of things and can be an inspiration for us all. In this episode he shares insights in around a number of topics. First, we talk about the history of coaching and mentoring, and he outlines four pivotal points in the formation of the helping professions. How did we get here? Continuing the historical idea, in the second part, we discuss the impact of technological development on the profession. How does digitalization change the process and business of coaching, and what are the typical challenges that coach-tech companies need to handle (e.g. data safety) when running their business.  Finally talk about research as well and revolve a bit around the active ingredients of the coaching conversation and the enablers of coaching success.  

You can listen to the conversation here:  

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