One of the aims of the Japan Institute of Workers’ Evolution (JIWE) is to contribute to the industrial development of Japan by promoting opportunities for female workers to make full use of their vocational abilities and skills.
One of the joys of writing this column is that it gives me the excuse to pause and reflect upon my recent learning about research and practice and to consider how it may be of interest to you, my readers. Over the last month or so I have been particularly taken by what it means to be a master practitioner and how research can help us attain that level of practice. It started with my recent move to Middlesex University (England) as Director of Programs for their Professional Doctorate Program. The candidates in this program undertake a doctorate in and through their own practice. Unlike the conventional doctorate where the focus is on academic knowledge, this doctorate’s focus is on practice itself, including all the messiness of real life and context. Within my new role, I have the opportunity to work with senior practitioners from a range of professions and talk with their professors and senior academics. It is fascinating to note that we are all intrigued by the question, “What makes mastery?”
All of us are struck by the great similarities between different disciplines–it seems that the process is the same, although the technical knowledge may be vastly different. For example, I had the delight of working with Dr. Susan Melrose, a professor of the performing arts, and I loved her perspective–to quote: “Disciplinary mastery is always relational: it is undertaken somewhere, by and for someone, with reference to (and thereby rearticulating the terms of) one or another disciplinary tradition”–this has a resonance for me when thinking about coaching. As we meet with our clients we are co-constructing a ‘performance’ with them. As we seek to probe what mastery really looks like and how it can be acquired, we are in the same realm as the performer seeking to construct a depiction of Hamlet or Sleeping Beauty which communicates and explores anew some aspect of what it means to be human.
The question of mastery has real power for coaching when we consider where we are as a profession. If we are to construct the boundaries of what constitutes our body of knowledge and practice, we need to be able to articulate in a clear manner what it means to be a master practitioner in our field. Here we differ from a performance artist in that we need to differentiate ourselves from other related disciplines. The academic requirements, i.e., the amount of stuff we need to know, are relatively straightforward. They are not easy, but they are straightforward. There may be differences in the focus of some courses depending upon the preference of the professors teaching them–but the amount and depth of study are monitored by the university accreditation boards and audited against the standard of a current body of knowledge in the area. However, with all due respect, we know that passing a master’s degree is not indicative of mastery in a profession. A master’s degree identifies that you have the required technical knowledge, NOT that you have the required professional knowledge and skills. For this we need to develop–through practice–the professional know-how and ‘gut feel’ indicative of a seasoned practitioner. This is the elusive but necessary ingredient of mastery.
So what might it be? The literature shows us a variety of perspectives and comes up with ‘practice wisdom’ and ‘expert intuition,’ both of which try to identify the process by which a practitioner produces a decision or constructs a flexible innovative intervention within the context they find themselves, i.e., their particular client or situation. It is relational, as Susan Melrose says. Let us take a moment to reflect: When was the last time you surprised yourself in practice and thought, “I wonder where that came from? Why did I do that? It worked but where did I get it from?” Probably quite recently! Your expert intuition was in full flight. You probably rationalized your decision or design AFTER the event, but it arrived like magic at the time. As Schön1 would have said, you were ‘knowing in action.’
We are starting, as researchers, to get some sense of what is happening in practice wisdom so we can help practitioners attain the holy grail of mastery. It is not appropriate to call it ‘intuition’ –expert or not–as this is a catchall phrase suggesting it is innate and without rational basis. My own view is that we are working with a kaleidoscope (I thank one of my students, Steve Wigzell, for this metaphor), each color contributing to the pattern is one aspect of what we are bringing to the interaction. For instance, we will bring technical knowledge from various disciplines: learning theory, change management, etc., but also our knowledge of context, the pragmatics in operation, our own values and beliefs, our experience in similar situations, etc. All these and more are part of the color spectrum we have in our kaleidoscope. For each client and situation, we rotate the kaleidoscope again to produce a pattern unique and specific to that client and situation.
The creation of each new pattern has to happen fast and effortlessly ‘in the moment’ through ‘reflection in action,’ and, as such, is the result of using images, examples, and understandings achieved through practice. A person’s performance nearly always uses several kinds of knowledge (technical, experiential, etc.) in some integrated form and is influenced by both context and feelings.
What recent research has shown is that the transition from novice to competent practitioner can happen when one or two areas of work are mastered. The transition from competent to master practitioner needs the practitioner to not only be using a broad and deep knowledge base, but also to be actively creating knowledge by applying their expertise in new arenas. To create new knowledge, experts must be well versed in the problems and methodologies of the field in which they work and actively engaged in problem finding. These experts are posing questions and instituting investigations that push the boundaries of their work.
So there we have it–if you want to develop expertise and be a Master Practitioner, you must be a problem finder and hence a researcher!
Enjoy your problem finding!
This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 3).
1 D. Schön, The Reflective Practitioner (Basic Books: New York, 1983) An old one but a good one and well worth a read
Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis
Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis is a senior researcher and education coach with the Professional Development Foundation. The author of more than 60 research articles and studies, her book. The Case for Coaching, presenting a literature review with research case studies and interviews from over 20 organizations on coaching efficacy, was published in 2006 by CIPD, UK.
I have recently experienced some of the gifts offered to coaches worldwide to enable them to develop their discipline. These include practitioner research, international conferences, and research grants. My first column for the year discusses the importance of these gifts and how we can make good use of them.
Practitioner Research and Reflective Practice
What do we really know about how coaching works, exactly how well it works, and when it works best? In essence, not much. Our “knowledge” is based mainly on what coaches say they do, or on what they think makes sense-rather than on observation of what they really do, or on research into coaching outcomes experienced by individuals, teams, and organizations. As a coaching practitioner, it is essential to continually research your own practice, ultimately developing your own professional competence through reflective practice.
David Peterson (2009) suggests simple ways to do this. For example, try different techniques in your coaching, i.e., with alternate clients do a background interview that is only one third of your normal interview; see what happens and take notes on what you observe. Secondly, you can generate a list of experimental ideas for your coaching from reading about new techniques, new types of questions, or new processes. Try one new thing every coaching session and record your findings. Thirdly, you can ask your coaching participants what was the most effective thing you (as coach) did in the session, and why was it helpful.
Also ask what was the least effective thing, and why was it not helpful? Record your feedback, looking for patterns, and substitute new processes for the least effective things. Think about participating in coaching research studies, or finding clients from your own practice to participate in such studies. Most importantly, think critically about and read current coaching research, trying to incorporate findings into your own practice.
The general characteristics of practitioner research are that (Fillery-Travis, 2009):
The research questions, aims, and outcomes are determined by the practitioners themselves;
The research is usually designed to have an immediate and direct benefit or impact;
The focus is on the practitioner’s own practice and/or that of their immediate peers;
The research or enquiry is small scale and short term;
The process may be evaluative, descriptive, developmental, or analytical.
Coaching in Medicine and Leadership
In late September 2009, I attended and spoke at the second International Harvard Coaching Conference on Coaching in Medicine and Leadership. Coaching has emerged as a competency dedicated to helping individuals grow, develop, and meet personal and professional goals while at the same time building personal and professional capacity and resilience. Although every year coaches are servicing a US$1.5 billion market, the most developed market segment is leadership coaching in organizations-less than 20 percent of professional coaches are from the mental health or medical fields. The Harvard conference was therefore a groundbreaking event, with lectures and workshops by world leaders in coaching and coaching research. There were three tracks: Overcoming the Immunity to Change; Coaching in Leadership-Theory and Practice; and Coaching in Health Care-Research and Application.
ICRF2 London: Measuring Results
In November I participated in the second International Coaching Research Forum (ICRF2) held in London, sponsored by the IES (UK Institute for Employment Studies) and the International Coaching Research Forum (ICRF). ICRF2: Measure for Measure looked specifically at how to design coaching measures and instruments, with the ultimate aim of discovering what makes coaching effective. Researchers from around the world met to discuss three major topic groups: process measures, outcome measures for executive/leadership coaching, and outcome measures for health, wellness, and life coaching. The format for each discussion was:
Discussion of what inputs should be measured;
Identification of aspects of the coaching process to be measured
Identification of outcomes to measure, based on coaching purpose;
Specific suggestions on how best to measure areas of greatest interest.
Critical issues in measurement and methodology were discussed, the biggest concerns relating to:
How do we evaluate instruments and measures? What are the important considerations, such as reliability, validity (quantitative research), and trustworthiness (qualitative research)?
How can we incorporate measures into our research? What are the issues and considerations in research design and methodology for incorporating measures and interpreting results?
What qualitative research issues have arisen in recent coaching research?
What are some of the most compelling coaching topics and challenges and how can they be measured?
A final report will be made available on the websites of both the International Coaching Research Forum and COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa) early next year. All of the group forums were recorded, and key points from each discussion will be included in the final report.
GCC Rainbow Convention-Cape Town 2010
These recent conferences have implications for all coaches worldwide, and particularly for the work being carried out by the Global Coaching Community (GCC), an international dialogue aimed at furthering the development of coaching. The GCC’s last convention took place in Ireland in July 2008 and produced the momentous Dublin Declaration on Coaching. The declaration was supported by recommendations from the GCC’s ten working groups, and has been endorsed by organizations and individuals representing over 15,000 coaches around the world.
It is now South Africa’s turn to host this pivotal event and help take the dialogue forward, and so the GCC Rainbow Convention will be held in Cape Town during 10-16 October 2010. The convention will showcase the results of pioneering practitioner research being undertaken by “pods” of coaches around South Africa. It will also continue the development work undertaken by the GCC’s ten working groups, as well as host specialist workshops on aspects of coaching practice.
Grants from the Institute of Coaching
Another boost to the professional development of coaching practitioners is an endowment of US$2,000,000 from the Harnisch Foundation to the Institute of Coaching based at Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital. The Institute is able to translate this generous endowment into grants totaling US$100,000 per year to fund rigorous research into coaching, thereby helping develop the scientific foundation and professional knowledge base of the field.
The Institute offers four types of grant, with deadlines for applications on the first day of February, May, August, and November each year:
Graduate student fellowships of up to US$10,000 for high-quality research projects. To qualify, applicants must be Masters or Doctoral candidates looking for financial support for dissertation research on coaching.
Research project grants of up to US$40,000 annually for individuals who would like to conduct empirical research in coaching.
Research publication grants of up to US$5,000 to assist with the writing, editing, and publication of coaching research in peer-reviewed journals.
Travel awards to cover travel expenses related to presenting coaching research at the annual Harvard Coaching Conference.
Please visit http://www.instituteofcoaching.org/ to learn more about the Institute’s various grants, membership programs, current research, and publications and for information on the recent Harvard Conference. As a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching and a member of its Research Advisory Board, I am keen that all practitioner researchers in coaching are aware of these research grants. It is crucial that we begin to build the body of knowledge on what is working and what still needs work within the discipline of business coaching worldwide.
How Can You Play a Part in the Development of the Field?
Our goal in developing reflective research and enquiry is to make a substantial contribution to the emerging practice of coaching worldwide (Stout Rostron, 2009). Your gift to our emerging discipline is to play a practical part. For example, you can:
Participate in WABC activities to develop the field;
Offer to participate in coaching research studies (see box below);
Continue to develop your own reflective practice;
Write up your own cases studies for coaching journals;
Apply for a research grant for one of your studies through the Institute of Coaching;
Attend conferences and stay abreast of current research practice;
Find out how you can participate in the GCC Rainbow Convention in South Africa in October 2010.
Systemic Team Coaching Research Survey
Professor Peter Hawkins, creator of the Seven-Eyed Supervision Model1and founder of the UK Bath Consultancy Group, is currently writing a new book on Systemic Team Coaching to be published by Kogan Page in 2010. He would like this book to best represent what is known and practiced in the field of team coaching. He is asking thought leaders, leading researchers, and senior team coaches to contribute from their experience. All contributions will be fully acknowledged and you will be referenced. Everyone who fills in the questionnaire will also be invited to the book launch in the UK in autumn 2010. Key questions are as follows:
What is the most common difficulty you have noticed in teams being effective?
What is the best way you have found to address this difficulty?
If you were responsible for teaching a new cadre of team coaches in just three months and were restricted to teaching them only five things, what would they be?
How do you define team coaching?
What three issues or questions do you think most need addressing in the field?
This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Feburary Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 1).
Fillery-Travis, A. (2009). Practitioner Research Workshop, GCC Rainbow Convention, notes.
Peterson, D. (In press). “Executive Coaching: A Critical Review and Recommendation for Advancing the Practice.” In Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, edited by S. Zedeck. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources. Available from http://www.kr.co.za/.
1Hawkins, P. and Shohet, R. (2007) Supervision in the Helping Professions. United Kingdom: Open University Press.
Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA
Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa).
In my writing so far, I hope I have whetted your appetite for coaching research and put a convincing argument that it cannot be left as an “academic” pastime, but should be part of every practitioner’s arsenal.
Most of us do not have the time to carry out research per se, but given that our profession is in its infancy, there is much to discover in the literature about the true potential of what we can offer as coaches and how this can impact upon our clients and their organizations! We can contribute to the growing body of knowledge ourselves by delving into journals and articles, discussing “hot topics” within our networks and generally making our literature our own. As practitioners we contribute a valuable perspective when we talk with our peers and to academic researchers.
Over the last year I have been contributing to a working group on research as part of the Global Coaching Convention. This convention was established to create a collaborative framework of stakeholders in coaching with the aim of professionalizing the industry. Quite a job and at times I think the size and complexity of the aim has daunted even the hardiest souls. As in any undertaking of this size, there has been a debate about the value of such an initiative. Detractors say that the coaching community has grown organically so far and it should be left to continue doing so. Others say that the convention is taking on too big a job, and with so many diverse agendas on the table, there is little hope of getting collaboration or consensus so people are wasting their time. I will not go further into the debates other than to mention that if any of our clients came out with such a view, we might well consider challenging it! But enough of my soap box, as a good researcher I shall admit my bias and point everyone in the direction of the GCC’s website for the latest news and events.
Sunny Stout Rostron and Carol Kauffman chaired and facilitated the research working group and they did a grand job in challenging our process and thinking as well as generally bringing the project home. The core piece of work was a review of where we are, as a community, in terms of our research. Sunny and Carol will be publishing the full piece in the near future, but I would like to share with you some of the thinking it sparked with me.
First and foremost, we agreed that if we are thinking of moving to becoming a profession then we have to define what our body of knowledge is—what is it that makes our offer different to that of occupational psychologists, management consultants or other related fields? Research is the route to defining our knowledge. Even if we are simply looking at, and comparing, each other’s practice we are engaging in research.
The second point that struck a real note with me was our discussion around whether we should define what is “good” and what is “bad” research. This question and its real depth gets in the way of many of us entering the world of research. It throws up all kinds of questions about what is the “correct” way of doing it, reporting it or even defining it.
Let us first consider our purpose in doing research. For me and many others it is to find something out or to learn, and the best evidence of learning is to change behaviors. So we are effectively saying to our colleagues:
“Trust me—I have looked at this issue and found XYZ. You can now take my findings and apply them directly to your practice.”
That is quite a thing to say. We are suggesting people change their practice and behaviors because of what we have found out. To do this (and still sleep at night) we need to know that we are right (or valid) and not leading people down the garden path on a scenic route to nowhere. Some researchers have taken the easy route out of this dilemma and stuck to one way of doing research, irrespective of the question they are asking. Usually the method of choice is a controlled experimental study where one group gets coaching and one group doesn’t, and at the end there is some measure of impact on behaviors (with everyone hoping there is a positive effect on those who have been coached)!
Everyone breathes a sigh of relief as they are doing a scientific study and don’t have to justify themselves any further. Oh if only life was that easy! As we have discussed before, what you research and how you do it is determined by the question you are asking NOT the other way around. A controlled experiment would be terribly complicated and confusing if we wanted to explore how and what elements of the coaching engagement are of most value to a diverse range of clients. Trying to control for all the factors that would be different between groups would make it untenable (and unusable).
Identifying the research method used as the main differentiator between good and bad research is therefore not a sensible path and will only lead to restricting the type of research question we will be able to ask (and answer). Our criteria for whether an inquiry is “good” research must be: Is there coherence between the question, the method used to research it and the analysis undertaken, and has everything been done to the standards of good practice? Let us leave the question of what is good practice to one side for another day and take that as read; we can then be happy to consider good research to include any method or even mix of methods that makes sense for the question we are asking.
The same thinking should be brought to bear on the question: What is the best research to do? Everyone wants to do research that will set the world alight, but choosing a topic isn’t easy. Governments have been engaged in foresight exercises for many years trying to second guess the research investment they should make to enable them to meet the challenges for the future. They have invested a significant amount of money, but it has resulted in quite a lot of what has been described as crystal gazing.
Experience has shown that such exercises are useful for mapping current drivers for research, but usually fail to foresee the big issues for the future, e.g., the exponential rise in the use of the mobile phone and the personal computer. If we cannot see what will be the main issue for the future then the best research to do is the research that speaks to you and your practice, i.e., the research that follows your passion. Chances are that your passion will be shared by others—go ahead and ask them—and if that is the case then you can be confident that there will be an audience for your work.
This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October Issue 2008, Volume 4, Issue 3).
As an introduction to how people are thinking about research for the future, have a look at these two papers. If you do not have access to these journals through a library or database, then just go to the website of the journal and order the download direct to your computer.
Linley, Alex P. 2006. “Coaching Research: Who? What? Where? When? Why?” International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring Vol. 4, No. 2 (Autumn): 1
Bennett, J.L. 2006. “An Agenda for Coaching-Related Research: A Challenge for Researchers.” Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research Vol. 58, Part 4: 240-249
Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis
Dr. Annette Fillery-Travis is a senior researcher and education coach with the Professional Development Foundation. The author of more than 60 research articles and studies, her recent book The Case for Coaching, presenting a literature review with research case studies and interviews from over 20 organizations on coaching efficacy, was published in 2006 by CIPD, UK.
We invite experts and researchers worldwide to apply their expertise to the subjects impacting business coaching, which integrates the work of many adjacent disciplines, including neuroscience, psychology, behavioral science, ethnography, among others.
Committed to the Highest Possible Standards
WABC applies the highest possible standards to business coaching. Extensive research on the topics currently shaping both coaching and business more broadly enhances our knowledge on subjects influencing business coaching standards, programs and practices.
As part of our goal to apply the highest standards, WABC constantly seeks robust research to enhance our evidence base on “what works” or “what is promising” in contemporary business coaching worldwide, while also considering the professional expertise/expert opinion of business coaching professionals.
A CALL TO RESEARCHERS
Contribute to the Renewal, Innovation and High Quality of our Profession
We invite experts and researchers worldwide to apply their expertise to the subjects impacting business coaching, which integrates the work of many adjacent disciplines, including neuroscience, psychology, behavioral science, ethnography, among others.
Whether you are a business coach, client, training provider or member of the public, WABC enhances business coaching confidence by delivering relevant, robust and reliable academic and professional principles and standards. Our best-in-class benchmarks reward excellence and build discipline in the business coaching industry towards research and sound practice.
The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) drives business coaching excellence as the global leader in robust, evidence-based practices. We support leaders, coaches, clients and companies with the knowledge, skills and resources to successfully navigate complexity and improve individual and operational performance alike. Our global community elevates all types of organizations, industries, and sectors using business coaching to achieve their strategic organizational and business objectives.
Leading Business Excellence™
Building Our Distinct Profession
WABC is a self-regulating body that behaves as though it is regulated. We set professional standards, a code of ethics and integrity, definitions and competencies that our organization, representatives, members and providers are committed to upholding.
A consistent global standard for business coaching as a distinct discipline is critical to the evolution of our profession and industry.
As the first organization to create evidence-based business coaching standards, we strive to build public trust in WABC business coaches as a reliable and ethical community, committed to upholding rigorous standards and acting in our clients’ best interests.
Our purpose is the ambition underpinning why we exist. As the core philosophy to who we are and why our work matters, our purpose is the foundation that grounds and guides the broader impact we strive to achieve.
WABC understands that to lead is not simply to act, but that the intention of our actions matters most. Leaders must be accountable to those we serve, and our values, ethics and integrity must align with the impact we want to create—for people, for the planet and for the common good.
At WABC, we are committed to unifying business leadership by establishing the highest global standards for business coaches and business coaching training providers available today.
Focused on What Matters Most
Our purpose is brought to life through our values, which guide how we remain actively committed and accountable to our clients, to one another and to ourselves.
We adapt to key stakeholder and market demands by developing great business coaching services and products. We stay on the leading edge by continually seeking feedback and improving practical value to business coaches, clients, members, providers and other key stakeholders.
We lead the business coaching market with new services and products by actively experimenting and researching new approaches. We continually set bold, new goals that are both strategic and evolutionary to nurture renewal, innovation and high quality.
We celebrate the diverse skills, talents, experiences and cultures of our global community, including business coaches, clients, members, program providers, committees, partners, alliances, executives, advisers and support team. We nurture, develop and grow socially responsible leaders at every level of our association to help realize our purpose in action.
We believe that our business coaching community can achieve anything with the right support behind them. We challenge ourselves to deliver service that is:
High-quality touch (personalized and individualized)
High-quality inform (timely and relevant), and
High-quality active (participation and leadership opportunities).
Intention and integrity
We believe that business is a potent force for solving social problems, and that leading with intention demands broad and deep corporate integrity. We strive to conduct our business in ethically, socially and environmentally responsible ways.
Our achievements are only possible when we commit to see them through together. We are loyal partners who commit with respect and gratitude. We stay true to our purpose and values, and do what is right to uphold these values as we navigate both adversity and success.
OUR MISSION AND VISION
Realizing Our Philosophies
At WABC, our mission and vision focus our core philosophies of purpose and values into what we aim to achieve, for the business coaches we serve and the distinct industry we represent.
Our mission is to develop, advance and promote the business coaching profession worldwide.
We are committed to enhancing business coaching as a distinct discipline and building awareness, credibility and trust in business coaches everywhere.
We envision a world with a business coach working within every organization, business and government worldwide.
We believe business coaching makes for better leadership, strategic thinking and organizational management. Our goal is to raise the profile of business coaching to become standard best practice for high-performing businesses and organizations.
Ethics and Integrity in Action
At WABC, we believe that business is a potent force for solving social problems, and we are committed to building public trust and credibility in business coaching as a global industry.
Business coaches often work with those in a position of leadership, who can greatly influence the business decisions and culture of the organizations they represent. Especially when facing complex dilemmas, business coaches must have the courage to challenge their clients’ perspective and guide them towards ethical choices. Business coaches also need to know when they themselves may be encountering ethical dilemmas and how to reconcile competing interests and agendas.
The unique nature of our role makes it clear that each of us needs to possess a strong ethical orientation as we carry out this important work. It is for this very reason that WABC invested in developing a Code that could match to the challenges we, and our clients, can sometimes face.
The current WABC Code of Business Coaching Ethics and Integrity embodies the highest ethical standards and includes our Principles and our Safe Harbor Conciliation and Adjudication Process. It’s one of the most advanced and comprehensive codes of its kind in the world today, and is one of the key differences that set WABC business coaches apart from other kinds of coaches.
Our Code is reviewed regularly to be relevant to the latest in best practice. It serves to guide not only our day-to-day business interactions and decision making, but also provides direction during uncertain times to help us think deeply about how to conduct all our coaching across business contexts and cultures.
WABC is committed to unifying continued excellence—of bringing business coaches, members, providers, and partners together to share expertise and support colleagues, clients and organizations across the world.
We work alongside businesses and organizations both big and small, and WABC business coaches are united by the principles, philosophies and ideas that give us a common foundation and elevate our practice
Our members represent everything from Fortune 100s to not-for-profits, entrepreneurs and enterprises, start-ups and small businesses. WABC business coaches drive transformations, both big and small, in organizations across sectors, industries and business size, and can support the success of your business too.
Our WABC Accredited program providers voluntarily hold themselves up for ongoing scrutiny against the highest business coaching standards in the world. Fewer than 1% of the world’s business coaching programs have met our standard of accreditation.
At the heart of WABC is a team of passionate individuals who commit their breadth and depth of their experience and expertise to supporting this vibrant association. We are also supported by committees, task forces and other working groups as needed to further our organizational goals and objectives.
“At WABC, we lead the best by committing to be the best—the best in high standards, quality service, and evidence-based thinking.”
Wendy Johnson is guided by an ethics-based ambitious vision: to have a business coach working within every organization, business and government worldwide.
Leading WABC is the ideal way for Johnson to leverage her passion and precision for the benefit of business coaches worldwide. Since 2002, WABC has become the leading global voice for business coaches, their training providers and their clients.
Under Johnson’s leadership, WABC has:
Risen from national to global standing
Led the development of rigorous self-regulatory initiatives and evidence-based global standards and credentials
Expanded its footprint from 5 to 125+ countries
Increased credential holders from 100s to 1000s
As a global thought leader in business coaching, Johnson continuously contributes to our community through a wide range of activities including coaching, mentoring, supervising, speaking, writing and reviewing of business coaching books and articles.
Johnson’s background is diverse, with expertise in business coaching, human dynamics, behavioral science and criminal justice. Before building her successful business coaching practice, Johnson ExeC Group, she served as a high-profile investigator, a law enforcement officer and a mental health therapist. These positions deepened Johnson’s commitment to public service, social responsibility and ethical behavior, traits that have defined her work at WABC.
Johnson holds several academic degrees including an MA in Counseling Psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology, as well as certifications in mediation, negotiation, conflict analysis, management, interrogation and investigation and business coaching.
“WABC’s steadfast commitment to business coaches, corporate ethics, integrity and evidence-based standards/practices is exactly what organizations worldwide need today.”
Doug Abrahamson brings broad and deep strategic management skills gleaned over decades of experience across multiple organizations and fields of practice.
For over 25 years, Doug has passionately championed the need to improve strategic management and planning skills within the field of public safety and security in Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. Simultaneously, he has conducted research, authored numerous articles and book chapters, and presented on the need for evidence-based policy and practice, stakeholder engagement, good governance and business coaching within both the public and private sectors.
Doug’s work has given him an opportunity to collaborate with organizations such as Charles Sturt University (AU), the Justice Institute of British Columbia (CA), Rabdan Academy (AE), Saskatchewan Global Transportation Hub Authority (CA), Police Executive Research Forum (US) and the Victoria Police Department (CA).
Doug has an MBA from Royal Roads University (RRU) and a Doctorate of Public Policy from Charles Sturt University (CSU). He maintains his academic standing through his continued role as adjunct faculty with CSU, Honorary Research Associate with the Justice Institute of British Columbia, journal and book/chapter authorship and role as independent peer reviewer for three international academic journals.
“The need for great leadership, capability and confidence has never been greater. At the center of this need is the leader’s willingness to change and evolve to meet the current demands. Business coaching is a change enabler and WABC is the best in class at understanding and supporting this imperative.”
David Kincaid is among North America’s most recognized and respected opinion leaders in the field of brand management. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of Level5 Strategy, one of Canada’s leading strategic brand consultancies.
Prior to starting Level5, David was Chief Marketing Officer at Corus Entertainment where he helped set the organization’s corporate vision, values and positioning. Before Corus, David was Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Strategic Planning at Labatt Breweries of Canada, where he led the company’s expansion into the United States, Mexico and the Dominican Republic with successful turnaround and launches of brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Keith’s.
David has a BA from Queen’s University, is a frequent lecturer and speaker at Canada’s leading business schools and conferences, and serves as Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University. In 2013, David was recognized by his industry peers when inducted into the American Marketing Association’s “Marketing Hall of Legends,” and has published two books.
“WABC’s content is developed from a deep understanding of the business coaching domain, the evolving needs of members, and its deep commitment to standards. WABC is positioned to be the go-to source for business coaches around the world.”
Michele Ann Jenkins has been working in web content management since people first realized web content should be managed. She got her start programming medical vocabulary management tools, then joined the San Francisco dotcom frenzy to work on Open Source web content management systems for the burgeoning online publication industry.
With 20 years of web development experience and a strong background in information science, Michele quickly analyzes client and user needs to translate them into actionable strategies that drive user engagement. Focusing in information architecture (IA), usability and content strategy, she finds creative ways to apply IA best practice and builds frameworks that are useful, solid and beautiful.
After many years of travel and working for UN organizations in Europe, she settled down in Montreal, Quebec to focus on information architecture and taxonomy.
Michele has a BA and an MLIS from McGill University, where she has taught courses in Online Community Development and Knowledge Taxonomies.
Leading from the Start
Steve Lanning and Hal Wright of the United States founded the National Association of Business Coaches (NABC) in 1997. NABC experienced steady growth within the first five years while the business coaching industry became one of the fastest growing professions in North America. NABC was positioned as “the association of choice” for business-focused coaches and the international business market.
To further global growth, NABC sought out a visionary leader to elevate the organization into a prestigious international association. Wendy Johnson of Canada shared the same vision—of an organization who could elevate excellence in business coaching, and unify business leadership throughout the world.
On May 31, 2002, Wendy Johnson transformed NABC into a new privately held federal corporation in Canada, and became WABC Coaches Inc.
WABC Coaches Inc. conducts business as the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC), and serves and develops business coaching markets around the world.
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