How many times do we meet coaches or consultants in need of coaching or assistance themselves yet declare themselves to be the best of the best? How many times have we asked ourselves what criteria they use to proclaim themselves as such? Unfortunately, the answer to both these questions is ‘quite often’, if not every day. Although coaching and consulting are clearly noble professions providing solid value for money, we feel growing unease and confusion in the face of blatant abuse, in every way possible, of the titles linked with them.
Coaching & consulting are regulated trades in certain countries, un-regulated in many others. Because there are no well established trade bodies, titles are often inflated. We are often confronted with the premature pretension and disproportionate ambition of people looking to move on after a career setback. There is certainly nothing wrong with re-branding one’s self as a consultant after a professional reversal or changing tack after a successful career. Indeed, it is clearly constructive for these people to share their insights with less experienced professionals. Not addressing the causes of this setback, and entering a trade with grand declarations far removed from daily reality is not, however, a constructive approach.
Admittedly, many of the greatest consulting & coaching achievements were the result of terrible failures or much soul searching that some celebrity coach or consultant applied successfully to themselves or to others. For example, Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, or the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who spent about a decade and a half enclosed in their psychological angst before re-engaging the world with revelations and theories which eventually both seduced and impacted humanity for centuries. We can’t expect all coaches & consultants to shut themselves off for years to prove themselves worthy, but they do nonetheless need to meet certain basic criteria. Coaching and consulting service providers must:
• Love their profession and not enter it only as an escape from past failure
• Update their skill-set constantly through experimentation, training and self-training.
• Be professional enough to know their limits and to state as necessary which services are outside their field of competence.
Finally, to enhance the value created by coaches & consultants and the impact of their missions, customers of intellectual services play a key role through management practices & approaches. Customers have a duty to:
• Analyse, for the duration of the mission and not just at the beginning, the pertinence of selecting this coach or consultant based on their track record and the methods they recommend in the projects assigned to them
• Monitor quality of services provided through performance indicators measuring sustainable results rather the quick win results of low-hanging fruits.
• Evaluate the coach or consultant’s ability to use benchmarking and innovation processes tailored to the customer profile with mid and long term result projections.
• Analyse, in delivery mode, the consultant’s capacity to take on an exceptional workload or to monitor the operational support provided by a coach in response to short term issues.
By Farid Yandouz