Like all the coaches I am pretty curious about the future of our profession. With all the hype around generative AI, developments in online coaching platforms and coaching apps the future isn’t just knocking on our doors, but it is already here. As an “armchair futurist,” I know that the best scenarios of the future are based on the signals of the past and the present: the knowledge of history and the awareness of events that don’t fit the main narratives.
These historical perspectives and development-focused thinking was the thing that I have enjoyed the most in Reinhard’s conference speech in Budapest last year, where he was presenting about the future of coaching, and after a brief chat, I invited him to join me for a follow-up conversation.
Reinhard Stelter is a full professor, head of the Coaching Psychology Unit, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports (NEXS) at the University of Copenhagen. He has a practice as a coach, mentor, and supervisor and is an accredited coaching psychologist (associate fellow at ISCP). He has also been a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School since 2009.
Two of his books that are more than recommended to read are “The Art of Dialogue in Coaching” – which won the “Coaching Book of the Year 2019” award from Henley Business School, and “A Guide to Third Generation Coaching”.
We have covered a number of topics in this conversation too. Where are the boundaries of coaching? How does identity come into play in coaching (here is a hint: everywhere) and the challenges of “getting to the identity level” as a coach? How do we contract for that? Of course, we took a look at the research of Reinhard and his thoughts around the future of coaching as well! Will there be a fourth generation of conversations in our profession after the third one?
We talked philosophy as well, and I got an important reminder:
In the interdisciplinarity of coaching, there can – and must – be a place for various fields of sciences: psychology, philosophy, leadership studies… and more.
From all the inspiration I got I really came to love the phrase “conversation holder”. Yes, we used that for the coach, in order to avoid using the coach word.
For me, this phrase opens up the boundaries of the coaching role – enabling more of the “content of the coach”, and a deeper reflection on the issues of the client. It also highlights the essence of the coaching process: a conversation. A dialogue that involves two full people in a partnership, an exchange that creates a next-level of self-awareness and understanding for the participants.
I was amazed by the deep thoughts that emerged and I felt that we were really on the same wave, I guess being a psychologist myself helped to get to that point. What I admire however that Reinhard was simply clear in his messages and there was no need to rely on our shared knowledge to get his ideas.
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