The Coaching Pyramid
The pyramid is one way to look at the coaching activities that offer some insights into the profile of those being coached.
Why is coaching a worthwhile activity with high popularity as a profession?
Many want to do it and some do it so well that their services are in high demand that people are willing to subject themselves to a level of vulnerability that they would only do with a doctor in normal circumstances. Why do we share our feelings with a stranger with someone we address with the title of Dr?
I speculate there are three reasons.
The person is a doctor which is a recognised credential from recognised medical institutions.
We are in pains and discomfort that are unbearable or make us fearful that our conditions may not improve or get worst if not addressed.
We want relief.
There is no far-fetched claim that coaches are doctors. The comparison is useful when it is used to highlight that coaches don’t focus on themselves but on the persons they are coaching. The main difference is that coaching relies on self-diagnosis and personal accountability from the people they coach. There are no thermometers to inform of high temperatures. No x-ray machines to detect fractures. No ultra-sound equipment to show us the internals. No medicine or operating table.
The coaches lack the resources from industries like pharmaceuticals or government agencies that are well funded to produce “solutions” for the health problems of people who want help.
In the coaching profession, the only tool is the coaching session in which there are some dynamics in play. First, coaches must believe that people can solve their own problems. Second, the persons being coached must want to know their problems or at least be aware of their own ability to do something. Lastly, the persons being coached must want to take action.
The coaching pyramid depicts the two basic types of coaching sessions – professional coaching sessions and practice activities.
The professional sessions focus on the problems and outcomes for the client. The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as a formal relationship between a coach and a client. It is a relationship that involves confidentiality, ethical behaviours, and conversations with the sole purpose of empowering the client to take action in solving their problems.
The practice sessions are activities that prospective coaches use to practise and develop their coaching skills. There are the peer coaching sessions that the coach-instructors use to guide their students on the use of conversations and communication techniques in the development of a coaching tool kit.
During the early stage of a coach’s professional development, the accumulated hours of the coaching sessions are used to gain credentials from institutions that require a certain number of coaching hours in the issuing of different levels of credentials. For example, coaches must have 100 coaching hours to be eligible to apply for the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) credential and 500 hours for the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) recognition.
At the base of the coaching pyramid, we have many coaches who engage in Peer Coaching to develop their skills and gain experience to build up their coaching capabilities. This is an important and necessary part of a coach’s development journey.
Moving up from the base of the coaching pyramid, there are three types of coaching activities. Community Coaching is when the session is not a paid one. The coaches do it on the pro-bono basis. It is important to note that although there is no financial consideration, the professional standards of practice expected of the coaches remain. The clients in community coaching are people with real problems that require attention and solutions.
Further up the pyramid, we have an area that is best described as Sponsored Coaching – which is a situation where the coaching sessions are paid one and the payment are not from the clients but by sponsors who want to support people who may benefit from the coaching sessions by professionals.
At the apex of the coaching pyramid, we have what we describe here as Enterprise Coaching; which simply means that clients are people with the ability to pay for the services of professional coaches.
The professional levels of coaching – whether they are community, sponsored or enterprise in context, are where most coaches aspire to be doing. And coaching at these levels requires high standards of confidentiality, ethics and responsibility towards the people being coached.
To find out more information about the professional coaching journey, you may contact one of our career advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org