Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams: why the need for this book

If you’ve been wondering what my latest book Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams is all about, and why there is a need for it, we’ve created a short video that discusses the journey towards writing this book, why it is so relevant as we head towards the 4th Industrial Revolution and what value the book has in working effectively with teams.

If you’re interested in joining me and my fellow authors at either the Cape Town (Monday, 27th May 2019) or Johannesburg (Wednesday, 29th May 2019) launch, send me an email.

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Dr Michael Cavanagh on Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams

“This book is a marvellous contribution to the emerging field of team coaching. Dr Stout-Rostron and her contributing authors have produced a review of extant team coaching models and contributed some new models for team coaching specifically aimed at respecting and capitalising on the cultural diversity found in today’s modern workplace. Much of the work undertaken here seeks to move beyond the linear models that have characterised coaching in past years. Instead, they explore systemic and developmental approaches to team coaching. In doing so, they contribute to a more sophisticated understanding of team coaching and coaching more generally. This is a book which is both theoretically strong and practically applicable. I am sure it will enhance practice and stimulate further development in this important area of coaching” – Dr Michael Cavanagh, Deputy Director, Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney, Australia

Book your spot for the upcoming South African launch of the book in Cape Town (Monday 27th May 2019) or Johannesburg (Wednesday 29th May 2019) by sending us an email with your name, email address, contact number and whether you would like to join us in Cape Town or in Johannesburg.

Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams is available in hard cover or ebook format from Routledge.

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Dr Marc Kahn’s review of Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams

“In this timely and useful book, the authors draw on their considerable experience and address key concerns and approaches to team coaching, stressing the importance of culture and the role that diversity plays in the process. Systems Theory is fast emerging as the dominant discourse for coaching in organisations, and the models offered here do well to expose its importance. Highly recommended reading for coaches working with teams.” – Dr Marc Kahn, Global Head of HR and OD, Investec Plc; Visiting Professor of People, Organisation and Strategy at Middlesex University, London, UK

Book your spot for the upcoming South African launch of the book in Cape Town (Monday 27th May 2019) or Johannesburg (Wednesday 29th May 2019) by sending us an email with your name, email address, contact number and whether you would like to join us in Cape Town or in Johannesburg.

Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams is available in hard cover or ebook format from Routledge.

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Book review from Dr Lise Lewis for Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams

“Team coaching is increasingly popular and credible as the people-development approach for businesses navigating the complex demands impacting on today’s workplace. We can no longer ignore the global platform of this digital age, further compounded by the unprecedented cultural mix in team composition. This seminal text, contextualised in relationship systems intelligence, offers expertise and knowledge that prepares and elevates your offering as a team coach. You can develop and distinguish your practice, informed by proven interventions implemented by successful practitioners. Current case studies from a range of sectors are reinforced with tangible illustrations and a range of team coaching models. You will be taken on a journey of discovery into every facet of team coaching – transformational leadership, a systemic perspective on culture and human relationships, and differentiation between group and team coaching. A text that I highly recommend you view as a must-have reference in all your preparations for team coaching.” – Dr Lise Lewis, International Special Ambassador of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), London, UK

Book your spot for the upcoming South African launch of the book in Cape Town (Monday 27th May 2019) or Johannesburg (Wednesday 29th May 2019) by sending us an email with your name, email address, contact number and whether you would like to join us in Cape Town or in Johannesburg.

Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams is available in hard cover or ebook format from Routledge.

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Book Launch: Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams

In this book, currently available in hard copy or as an eBook, Dr Sunny Stout-Rostron examines real-world experience and the contemporary literature on group and team coaching. She analyses how team coaching can guide coaches to help leaders and teams flourish in complex, culturally diverse organisations. As well as presenting a variety of team coaching models she also presents her own model, High-Performance Relationship Coaching, the result of many years of working with global corporate teams.

Dr Stout-Rostron illuminates how team coaches can help teams to learn from and interpret their own experiences, and to understand the complexity of the environment in which they work. Her team coaching model is explored over eight chapters, beginning with the role of the business team coach and leadership coaching processes. She evaluates how to work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how to shift culture through transformative leadership coaching, explains the depth of relationship systems coaching, and explores how to apply a variety of methods including Ubuntu coaching. The book encourages team coaches to develop deep self-awareness, team awareness, cultural diversity awareness and wider systemic and relationship awareness. Filled with practical stories and examples, it describes how to work successfully with these models in the real world.

Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams is a key guide for coaches in practice and in training, HR and L&D professionals and executives in a coaching role. This is essential reading for all team coaches.


  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Team Coaching;
  • Chapter 2: Leadership and team coaching;
  • Chapter 3: Transformative leadership coaching: Shifting culture in organisations, Deborah Williams;
  • Chapter 4: Theories, models and tools for informing the High-Performance Relationship Coaching Model;
  • Chapter 5: Diversity and culture in teams;
  • Chapter 6: The case for Ubuntu Coaching: Working with an African coaching meta-model that strengthens human connection in a fast-changing VUCA world, Dr Dumisani Magadlela,
  • Chapter 7: Relationship Systems Coaching, Creina Schneier and Anne Rød;
  • Chapter 8: The High-Performance Relationship Coaching Model;
  • Chapter 9: Final Reflections;
  • Appendix

Diarise the launch of the limited edition soft cover version of Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams in South Africa in Cape Town on Monday, 27th May 2019 and in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 29th May 2019.

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#Coaching2Connect Twitter Q & A hosted by SACAP

twitterLast month, we participated in a Twitter Q & A session on the topic of how coaching plays a role in your being or becoming more of a “people person”.  The Twitter talk was hosted by SACAP, the South African College of Applied Psychology.  What follows are SACAP’s questions and my answers (which you can also find on my Twitter handle @StoutRostron, following the hashtag #Coaching2Connect):

Q1 How important is it to have good interpersonal skills in the workplace? #Coaching2Connect

It’s vital as most successful business is based on personal relationships. This applies both to your career prospects, to team management and crucially bringing in business to the company. Look around you and see who are the successful people and ask yourself why. Develop the skill and competence of communicating one-on-one with people and being able to make your voice heard in a group or team. The most crucial thing in developing yourself as a people person is being authentically you.

Q2 How do you know when your interpersonal skills are not up-to scratch? #Coaching2Connect

When colleagues misunderstand you, or misunderstand your requests or instructions. When you feel your boss is not understanding or appreciating you. And when your voice is not listened to in meetings when you try to make a suggestion. Ultimately it is something if everyone is honest with themselves. They know deep down if you are being authentic. And know if you are communicating comfortably. If you are uncomfortable you need to work on yourself and your skills.

Q3 What role can coaching play in improving interpersonal skills and helping you be more of a people’s person? #Coaching2Connect

First of all coaching helps with developing self-awareness. This is the building block of looking at yourself and understanding your strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. Everyone has aspects they can work on. Working on your interpersonal skills is important for everyone – especially those who are more introverted or shy. Coaching helps you understand how you can improve and overcome your difficulties and pushes you to always be authentic. From that results will follow. Coaching will help you with your communication skills in every way.

Q4 How can coaching help you to connect more effectively? #Coaching2Connect

You will develop confidence in yourself. You will become more aware of your own strengths which perhaps you have not yet developed. Different situations require different approaches, and you will learn how people are experiencing you. And how to adapt accordingly. For example, some managers out of lack of confidence can be too submissive or aggressive. Learning how to moderate your own behaviour will always produce better results. Self-awareness is everything and that is the key to coaching.  Your coach can help you by noticing your patterns of communication and through those observations, help you to be more aware of your communication behaviour and its effectiveness

Q5 Why do good interpersonal skills make you a better, more effective leader? #Coaching2Connect

Leaders are required to communicate in a variety of situations and with a variety of different people. Having a vision in your head is no good if you cannot communicate it and enthuse everyone around you. Leaders need to be able to communicate vision, strategy and direction. They also need to be able to negotiate difficult situations and to manage difficult people. Persuading by ordering and shouting produces less results than persuading and inspiring. The more you develop the skill of communicating in different situations the more successful you will be. Leaders also need to be able to communicate through telling stories to get a message across.  People tend to gravitate towards leaders with excellent communication skills and success as a leader is completely dependent on how you engage and are experienced by others.

Q6 Why does coaching require you to step out of your comfort zone? #Coaching2Connect

If you just stayed in your comfort zone you wouldn’t progress either personally or professionally. Just think of great sports teams or athletes. The ones who stand out and achieve peak performance are those who know they need training and someone to push them to their full potential. This applies in all walks of life and especially in business – and particularly for leaders. Often people engage with a coach as something is not working in their personal or working life. Or there is a wide gap or disconnect between the two. A coach helps you think through where the gaps are and how you can address them.

Good interpersonal skills also help you to deal with politics in the organisation. Coaching helps you to identify your own limiting assumptions and asks you to question and challenge what you take as gospel. An assumption is a proposition that we tend to think is true. A coach helps you to look at your reasons and to identify what is untrue and limiting.  Coaching helps you to identify patterns of behaviour that are holding you back. The coach helps you to step into new thinking, new feelings and new behaviours.

Q7 How does body language play a role in improving interpersonal skills? #Coaching2Connect

Body language is more than 50% of communication. You will know when a colleague is saying one thing and meaning something else. It is something that we are all capable of picking up. An authentic communicator and people person is in alignment with their own beliefs and values. Words and body language communicate this and need to be in alignment. Our unconscious mind is dominant when we are speaking – and is communicated through our body language. If your body language and voice message do not match you will be sending the wrong message. This will be reacted and responded to.  Our body language shows whether we are at ease and comfortable. This is picked up by the receiver and puts them either at ease or can create anxiety if you are not a ease.

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#Coach2Career Twitter Q & A hosted by SACAP

twitterEarlier today, we participated in a Twitter Q & A session on the topic of careers in coaching and how the coaching profession has progressed in terms of career offerings.  The following is the questions and my answers (which you can also find on my Twitter handle @StoutRostron, following the hashtag #Coach2Career):

Q1 Life coach; executive coach; relationship coach – many different specialisations, but what is a coach?

What you do as a coach is to help coachees to reconstruct client thoughts and feelings to gain perspective and become self-directed learners.  The coach is a thinking and feeling partner because executives no longer have time to think.  The role of the coach is to get leaders into a learning mindset.

A coach’s job isn’t to fix clients, , or to give answers that the coachee and team need to find for themselves.  A coach’s job is to challenge the coachee’s thinking, to make observations on their behaviour and the way they engage with the world.

Coaches observe how others experience their coachee and the coachee begins to notice how others are experiencing them out in the world.  Robert Hargrove (2003) says a coach is something that you “be” – meaning that coaches need to work more with the tacit dimension.  The tacit dimension focuses on how to be in the relationship – rather than referring to the skills and competences of you as coach – or even what you do in the coaching conversation.

Q2 What are the many different career opportunities for coaches?

There is a vast array – one possibility is to consult externally to organisations/institutions:

  • Working as an internal coach in an organisation with a deep understanding of the organisational culture.
  • Being trained as a feedback coach in an organisation for those who are new to the profession.
  • Becoming a coach researcher – and helping to develop the knowledge base for coaches.
  • Working as staff for one of the professional bodies of coaching round the world.
  • Working as a part-time coach in a professional suite of coaches – the agency finds you the work.
  • Running your own business as an external coach.
  • Teaching on one of the many master’s and certification education programmes for coaches in South Africa.
  • If you are employed, developing a coaching approach to your managerial style.

Q3 How does the coaching approach differ from the counselling approach?

Therapy and counselling are about healing – and coaching is about learning from your experience.  The coaching conversation is about learning from your own experience and finding your own inner wisdom.

A coach often acts as a sounding board, using question frameworks and coaching models to help the leader work out solutions to specific issues.  Coach and client reflect on the client’s experience and behaviours, devising new thinking, feeling, behaviours and actions.

Counselling is a form of help and support for people troubled by emotional trauma or other personal challenges.  Counselling involves sympathetic listening and a modicum of advice, usually on a short-term basis, typically in response to a particular event or concern.  Counselling generally deals with the personal side of a leader’s life, including such issues as bereavement, divorce, substance abuse or dependence.

Q4 What is on the horizon for the profession of coaching? (future trends)

For the foreseeable future, it looks as if coaching will continue to “professionalize”.  There are five core areas for the future of business coaching.  They are: professionalisationmastery of practiceeducation and development of coachescoaching research; and coaching and society.

The role of research is to determine the competences necessary to educate and develop coaches.  Most importantly to create a definition of coaching that the global coaching community will accept.  The new and innovative context worldwide is not just for academic researchers to contribute to relevant evidence-based practice, but also for coach practitioners and leaders within organisations to contribute to the development of self-reflective practice and practitioner research.

Q5 How can coaching help South Africans embrace diversity?

Diversity generally refers to policies and practices that seek to include people who are considered, in some way, different from traditional members.  More centrally, diversity aims to create an inclusive culture that values and uses the talents of all would-be members.  It has become critically important for business coaches to understand the impact of diversity on team performance, co-operation and conflict.  A key question is how diversity within groups/teams can be developed as a ‘productive asset rather than becoming a source of conflict and prejudice’. This is where the coach has a role to play.

There has been a rethink of the language defining diversity, where the word ‘diversity’ is being replaced with the term ‘inclusion’.  The concept of inclusion means removing barriers that prevent employees from using their full range of skills and competencies at work.  Inclusion is ‘the extent to which individuals can access information and resources, are involved in workgroups, and have ability to influence decision-making.

Some organizations now develop programmes and initiatives which include employee participation, communication strategies, and community relations.  Research into workgroup performance suggests that ‘mixed-composition workgroups can improve group performance.  This is by providing a wider range of perspectives and a broader skills base.

Q6 How is technology changing careers in coaching?

Many coaches now facilitate the coaching conversation using Skype or something similar. This enables coaches to work with coachees round the globe.  Therefore many coaches are qualifying as coaches who will never see a client face to face!  Also some coaches work simply by email and answer their clients questions via email.

There is no research yet to show whether this is beneficial or detrimental to the coachee.  However, due to research into texting and emails, they are the least valuable form of communication.  We need to research the impact on the depth of coaching via technology.

Q7 How does training of coaches have to adapt to accommodate new and future coaching careers?

In developing their own integrative approaches to coaching, coaches should consider their own experience and training based on career trends.  It would be useful to choose theoretical models that will suit a wide range of clients.  We will always need to prepare future generations to take on leadership roles, training supervisors and managers to move up the corporate ladder.

We need to help executives to do more with less resources, time and skills, engaging their employees to create a trusting and transparent workplace culture.  We always need to harness the “systemic” issues or “systemic” trends that are emerging so that “silo” coaching does not become the norm.


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Webinar: The Tacit Dimension – Developing Self as Coach in the 21st Century

Sunny recently led a webinar for the Institute of Coaching , an affiliate of McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School on 17th February 2016.  The topic deals practically with some of the areas that coaches and leaders need to focus and reflect on, to develop their abilities, including accessing a learning mindset, deepening self-reflective practice, looking at how you are “being” a coach in the coaching relationship (the tacit dimension), and what are the shifts in ourselves that we need to make to create shift in our clients.

In the fast paced, VUCA world of the new century, the need to develop strong, capable leaders remains constant. Leadership and business coaches have a critical part to play. Sunny explores the core development challenges for leaders and coaches in the 21st century. She also focuses on the Tacit Dimension – examining how you ‘be’ in the coaching relationship versus your skills, competencies and expertise. This webinar is practical and experiential, working with us to create the conditions for high quality coaching conversations and deepening our own self-reflective practice. She covers:

  • Learn or Die – Getting Leaders into a Learning Mind-set
  • What it Means to be a Leader and a Coach in a VUCA World
  • Six Defining Traits of the 21st Century Organisation
  • Working with the Tacit Dimension – How Are You Being in the Coaching Relationship?
  • Deepening Self-reflective practice – What should you be doing?

– See more at:

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Working with Coaching Models: The U-Process

By Dr. Sunny Stout-Rostron

The U-process

The U-process is sometimes known as the process of transition, and in the field of coaching this U-process is typically represented in Scharmer’s model of change. In the process of transition, the client can move from anxiety, through happiness, fear, threat, guilt, denial, disillusionment, depression, gradual acceptance and hostility to moving forward.

The U-process is considered a mid-range change theory with a sense of an emerging future. Scharmer’s process moves the client through different levels of perception and change, with differing levels of action which follow. The three main elements are sensing, presencing and realizing. These represent the three basic aspects of the U (Figure 1).

Figure 1    Scharmer’s U-Process Model

Scharmer's U-Process

Source:       Adapted from Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski and Flowers (2005:88)

This process helps the client to work at different levels of perception and change, and allows different levels of actions to follow. All three are extensions of the learning process. As the coach and client move into the U, sensing is about observing and becoming one with the world; presencing, moving to the bottom of the U, is about retreating and reflecting and allowing an inner knowing to emerge, and realizing as you move out of the “U”, is about acting swiftly and with a natural flow from the knowledge and understanding that has emerged.

Time for ChangeThe U-theory suggests co-creation between the individual and the collective – i.e. the larger world. It is about the interconnection or integration of the self with the world. At the bottom of the U, as described by Scharmer, is the “inner gate” where we drop the baggage of our journey, going through a threshold. The metaphor used here is that of “death of the old self”, and “rebirth of the new self”, the client emerges with a different sense of self. On the Web is a lovely dialogue between Wilber and Scharmer where they discuss the seven states and the three movements in this one process (Scharmer, 2003).

Superficial learning and change processes are shorter versions of the U-movement. In using this as a coaching process, the client moves downwards into the base of the U, moving from acting, to thinking, to feeling, to will. This is to help the client to download with the coach, to let go and discover who they really are, to see from the deepest part of themselves, developing an awareness that is expanded with a shift in intention.

Otto Scharmer, in an executive summary of his new book, Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges, describes the U-process as five movements: co-initiating, co-sensing, presencing, co-creating and co-evolving (Scharmer, 2007:5–8). Scharmer describes this as moving “first into intimate connection with the world and to a place of inner knowing that can emerge from within, followed by bringing forth the new, which entails discovering the future by doing” (Scharmer, 2007:6). The following case study demonstrates the five-step process.

Figure 2    U-process case study

Scharmer's U-Process Example

Source:       Scharmer (2007:6)

Case study: The Global Convention on Coaching (GCC)

From July 2007 until July 2008, I played a role as Chair of the GCC Working Group: Research Agenda for Development of the Field, and Carol Kauffman took the part of Facilitator. The GCC was originally established to create a collaborative dialogue for all stakeholders in coaching worldwide, with the ultimate aim of professionalizing the industry. Nine initial working groups were formed by the GCC’s Steering Committee to discuss critical issues related to the professionalization of coaching, producing “white papers” on the current realities and possible future scenarios of these issues. These white papers were presented at the GCC’s Dublin convention in July 2008. Using the U-process model, this case study summarises the working group process of the research agenda, which comprised a 12-month online dialogue process, with the addition of monthly telephone conversations, during 2007–2008. The white papers for all nine working groups (plus the new tenth group, Coaching and Society) are available at

1. Co-initiation

Co-initiating is about building common intent, stopping and listening to others and to what life calls you to do. In the Working Group for the Research Agenda, the group built common intent by first setting up the group, defining their purpose and beginning to discuss the process that they wanted to use for their dialogue. It was agreed that the chair and facilitator would invite specific individuals to join the Working Group, and those members would suggest other individuals who might have a key interest in the research agenda for the field (i.e. the emerging coaching profession). The group began their online dialogue, once all had accepted the invitation and received instructions on how to use the online GCC web forum. It was agreed that there would be three communities working together: the Working Group and the Consultative Body for the Research Agenda, and the Steering Committee who were responsible for the leadership and management of the other groups.

2. Co-sensing

EyeObserve, Observe, Observe. Go to the places of most potential and listen with your mind and heart wide open. The chair and the facilitator of the Working Group had to learn to co-facilitate, observing each other’s skill and competence. They had to be willing to listen to each other, observing each other’s style in facilitating an online dialogue. They needed to create the group, and to facilitate the way forward with the group, learning to take constructive criticism and appreciation from each other, guiding the group forward without being prescriptive. Both chair and facilitator agreed to co-chair the process, remaining mentally and emotionally open to each other’s divergent opinions, ways of being and styles of interpersonal communication, whether working with the group online or by phone.

3. Presencing

Connect to the source of inspiration, and will. Go to the place of silence and Young Woman Meditating on the Floorallow the inner knowing to emerge. Each individual in the process reflected and regularly added their thoughts and feelings to the online forum. Debate, conflict and agreement emerged – with chair and facilitator taking responsibility to keep the group on track without being prescriptive. The chair and facilitator had to connect, each one to their own individual source of inspiration and to bring that together as one voice to guide the group.

4. Co-creating

Prototype the new. In living examples to explore the future by doing. This entailed harnessing the energy of the Working Group to draft a current reality document of their online and tele-conference dialogues; this document was revised four times. They brought in a facilitator for a second, Consultative Body who entered the Consultative Body dialogue at stage 1 (co-initiating), but who, at the same time, entered the Working Group dialogue at stage 3 (presencing). Trying to move forward with their own Working Group process, yet move the Consultative Body from stage 1 to stage 2 (co-initiation to co-sensing) was a complex, parallel process. The chair and facilitator enlisted the help of an editor, Nick Wilkins, to manage the writing process of the white paper during the Working Group’s co-creation (or stage 4).

5. Co-evolving

Embody the new in ecosystems that facilitate seeing and acting from the whole. The final stage of the process was the physical gathering at the Dublin convention. This took place in three stages: pre-convention, convention and post-convention (post-convention work has just begun). Several months prior to the convention, all nine working groups began to work together online and by telephone to share their own varied stages in the U-process; in this way they learned from each other as they gathered momentum moving towards Dublin which was to be the culmination of their year-long project. Some groups had lost participants during the 12 months through disagreement; others managed to harness the energy to move through each of the stages together. The three processes were:

  • Pre-convention: Preparation for the presentation of a white paper by nine committees; this was for their committee’s current global reality and future possible scenarios for their topic, with the addition of a tenth committee four months prior to Dublin.
  • Convention: Physical presence, dialogue and debate in Dublin with each of the working groups. This was paralleled with virtual online feedback on a daily basis from those not able to attend the convention (however, there were difficulties with this process which frustrated some who could not access the virtual dialogue during that week).
  • Post-convention: Continuation of the process with a new format. The work was to take place in diverse groups regionally and nation-wide, to proceed to the next step building the emerging profession of coaching. Post-convention, a Global Steering Group began work to harness the energy of those wishing to continue. The GCC saw its role as an organic one, continuing to facilitate a global dialogue, rather than forming another coaching organization. A post-GCC International Coaching Summit is to now take place in July 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

This U-process is applicable to large innovation projects where the unfolding takes place over a long time; a year in this instance. The team composition in such projects as this will change and adapt to some degree after each movement: in the GCC process the working group for the Research Agenda had lost and added new members, whereas the consultative body was a looser entity with only certain members playing a strong role. This was a process of discovery, exploring the future by doing, thinking and reflecting. As Scharmer explains, it facilitates an opening. Facilitating an opening process involves “the tuning of three instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will” (Scharmer, 2007:8–9).

At any one time there were three U-process coaching journeys taking place for the Research Agenda: within the working group, the working group interacting with the consultative body, and the working group interacting with the steering committee.

In Conclusion

Models offer a great sense of structure yet flexibility for the coach practitioner, but remember that simplicity is a prerequisite. I explore models from an experiential learning premise as the client always brings their experience into the coaching conversation. The client’s experience is underpinned by a range of factors, including gender, race, culture, education, life experience and personality.

This article is adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching, (2009, Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources) and was originally printed in the WABC e-zine: Business Coaching Worldwide, Volume 5, and subsequently in ETD Online, July 2009.

Coach’s library

Global Convention on Coaching (GCC). (2008g). Dublin Declaration on Coaching Including Appendices. Global Convention on Coaching. Dublin, August. Webpage:

Scharmer, O. (2003). Mapping the Integral U: A conversation between Ken Wilber and Otto Scharmer, Denver, CO, 17 September. Dialog on Leadership. Webpage:

Scharmer, C. O. (2007). Addressing the Blind Spot of Our Time: An Executive Summary of the New Book by Otto Scharmer: Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges. Webpage:

Senge, P., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., and Flowers, B. S. (2005). Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Stout-Rostron, S. (2009a). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.

Stout-Rostron, S. (2009b). Working with Coaching Models: The U-Process. Human Capital Review, September. Webpage:­asp?Article_ID=625.

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The Scientist Practitioner Model

By Dr. Sunny Stout-Rostron

Working with Coaching Models

The main purpose of this article is to introduce you to the Scientist Practitioner model. Although it is essential to adopt a structured approach to your coaching conversation, this does not mean that you cannot let the conversation grow and be explorative. I talk about structure in a big-picture way. The beauty of any model is to have the freedom to explore within each part of the model.

Purpose, Perspectives, Process

The Scientist Practitioner model (see Figure 1) was developed by David Lane of the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) and the Work-Based Learning Unit at London’s Middlesex University (Lane and Corrie, 2006).

Figure 1    Purpose, Perspectives, Process

Lane & Corrie

 Source:       Lane and Corrie (2006)

Purpose (Where Are We Going and Why?)blank signs

What is your purpose in working with the client? Where are you going with this client? What does the client want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their overall journey with you as their coach?

For example, one client working in the telecoms industry said in our first session together, “I need your help because everybody in the organisation distrusts me and I’m in a pretty senior position. What can I do about it? I’m highly respected by those subordinate to me in position and disliked and mistrusted by those superior or equal to me in position.” As coach, your questions will relate to the client’s purpose, i.e. “Where are we going, and what’s the reason for going there?” “What” questions help to create a bigger picture of the journey and create perspective. This client’s purpose was to “build alliances and trust with peers, colleagues and superiors throughout the organisation”.

Perspectives (What Will Inform Our Journey?)

What are the perspectives that inform the journey for both coach and client? Each comes in with individual backgrounds, experience, expertise, culture, values, motivations and assumptions that drive behaviour.

I recently had a call from a potential client within the energy industry; he was a general manager. We chatted about his perspective on his background, career and current job. We discussed his perspective in terms of his position within the organisation, his style of leading and managing his team of people, the impact and influence of his age on his career prospects, and finally he said, “I have got as far as I can get with what I know now–and I need to know more, somehow”.

We then discussed the coach’s perspective, i.e. what informs the way I work with clients, what informs my experience and expertise and, based on our mutual perspectives, he asked, “Would we have some kind of synchronicity or a match in order to work together?” He wanted to understand what models, tools and techniques I used as he wanted to create his own leadership development toolbox to coach his senior managers. He also wanted to understand how to handle mistakes: did I make them and what would my education, training and work experience bring to our conversation? In this first contracting conversation, we worked through the model beginning with perspectives:

Perspectives: How we might bring our two worlds together?

Purpose: What did he ultimately want from the coaching experience?

Process: How we would work together to achieve his outcomes?

Process (How Will We Get There?)

Using this model helped me to begin to understand the above client’s needs, to develop rapport, and to identify not just his overall outcomes but to find a way to work together. At this stage of the model we contracted, set boundaries, agreed confidentiality matters, outlining the fee paying process and the development of a leadership development plan. We also agreed on timing (how often we would see each other and the individual client’s line manager). What assessments would be useful for the individual client to complete? How would we debrief those profiles? We discussed potential coaching assignments and timing for the overall contract (including termination and exit possibilities if either party was unhappy) and explored how to obtain line manager approval. Finally, we set up a separate meeting to agree the process with the line manager and the Group HR Director.

How Can This Model Help You?

This model can help you in three ways: to contract with the client, to structure the entire coaching journey and to guide your coaching conversation. Out of this specific conversation emerged the client’s purpose, the way our perspectives fit together to help him to achieve his purpose, and the process within which we would work to achieve the outcomes desired.

This model can be used for the regular coaching conversations you have with your individual clients. The client brings to the conversation a possible “menu” of topics to be discussed, or even just one particular topic. One of my clients in the media came to me one day saying, “My purpose today is to understand why I am sabotaging my best efforts to delegate to my senior managers” (purpose). As the coach, I wanted to understand all of the perspectives underlying the client’s aim for this conversation (perspectives), as well as identifying the various tools or techniques that could be used in the process.

In conclusion, coach practitioners have a great deal of flexibility when working with Flexiibilitycoaching models. Stretch yourself as a practitioner and learn one or two new models to expand your practice.

*(Adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Experience, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching, published 2009/2012 by Knowledge Resources and Karnac.)

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