The Emergence of the Academic Coach
We have developed a coaching programme blended with aspects of NLP. Recently I was asked when have I been coached , either personally or professionally and how did I benefit from the experience? BOOM…..a massive anchor that triggered a very positive recollection of a significant chapter in my life. Over a period of five years I was ‘coached’ by a leading academic (Professor in Organisational Behaviour) through a research project into cultural change in organisations. Each month for roughly 90 minutes the academic coach would meet with me and on reflection he was coaching me through my research process. That’s roughly 60 x 90 minute coaching sessions. The Professor did not adopt a judgemental view of my work, rather what he did was to facilitate my understanding of the PhD process and build my confidence as a researcher and as an emerging ‘praca/academic’.
The academic coach (a term I have assigned to him) had an official title of PhD Supervisor which implies, for me something quite different to a coaching relationship. It implies an asymmetrical power relationship based on control and ‘supervision’. I was pleasantly surprised to experience a collaborative, nurturing, process of awakening, personal growth, and generative change. No only did I develop as an praca/academic I also developed as a person. This development process was unquestionably coached. The coaching skills that my academic coach demonstrated were as follows:
- He built sustainable rapport with me as the coacheee
- He created and sustained an atmosphere of psychological safety in the coaching sessions
- He built a coaching container for us both to work in each month
- He facilitated shifts in beliefs through both re-framing and identity work
- He stretched my abilities and took me out of my comfort zone in a progressively supportive way
- He facilitated a shift in my mind set from a single perspective towards multiple and integrated perspectives towards subject such as leadership.
- He mentored me from day one through to day 365 five years later when I passed my Viva exam with flying colours
I can upon reflection notice the implicit coaching skills that my academic coach employed. I now ‘coach’ master’s Students through their dissertations and I draw upon the coaching model that my academic coach used in his relationship with me. On reflection I think that coaching is more than a technique, it is a way of being. I don’t know if my academic coach was in fact a trained coach or whether he was a ‘natural’ coach; what I do know now is that his consistent approach met comfortably with what I understand coaching to involve and exemplify a successful coaching model.