To understand the relationship of coaching, the manager and performance in organisations, it helps to review the history of how coaching has progressed, adapted to evolving demands and where it is heading.

History of Coaching

The concept of coaching has been around for as long as the human race. Right from the earliest days, the older or more skilled taught the young how to hunt, cook, and paint pictures on cave walls. They did this to develop useful and effective members of their tribes or communities.

This type of practical, skill-related coaching still exists in all societies to this day. However, a more sophisticated form of coaching, aimed at inspiring greater understanding or awareness began emerging in the earliest philosophies and religions. This ranged from the lessons incorporated in Aesop’s Fables to the lessons incorporated in Parables.

Throughout history and literature there are examples of coaching in action. But surprisingly the practice (at least in terms of executive development) appeared to fall into disuse in the late twentieth century. These were the days of the full-blooded management training program where they lasted at least five days. The major British management training colleges advertised general ‘open programs. Managers and executives from all walks of life and business would come to be put through a pre-set and unalterable program irrespective of their individual needs. In the USA programs were often considerably longer and the five to eight weeks ‘total executive development experience’ was not uncommon.

This approach to development was not without its merits. Both authors of this potted history have been involved in such forms of training and have seen it bring about immediate benefits to those being trained. But there are problems inherent in this approach and they are both economic as well as more subjective in nature.

The economic issue became apparent with the downturn of the economy in the 1990s. The organisations that had hitherto supported lengthy ‘open programs’ found that they could no longer afford to go down this costly route. They started to demand more tailor-made solutions from training providers. This initially took the form of requiring customised programs. These were aimed at addressing specific organisational issues as opposed to the more general ‘one size fits all’ approach.

History of Coaching

At the same time both organisations as well as their managers started to see the benefits of a more individualised approach to personal development. This is mirrored in society where the emphasis being on community and the nation, transitioned to one that is focused on the individual. Where we all have to manage our own careers and lives.

While generic skills could be taught, there were a host of issues ranging from complex to highly personal or confidential matters that demanded something different to training. People needed something that enabled issues to be discussed in depth and solutions arrived at by debate, reflection and discovery over a period of time. This was in stark contrast to the pre-packaged solutions so typical of most training programs.

But coaching still took time to catch on. In the late 1990s one of the authors — a leading executive coach — was asked what he did for a living. He replied with some pride that he was an executive coach. “What?”  – came the response. The coach initially thought that the other person was teasing him and then saw, to his amazement that the question was genuine. What made it even more amazing was that the questioner was a senior HR professional. Since then, things have moved on.

As the idea of coaching developed, organisations started employing psychologists to understand employee motivation and development needs, as well as for recruitment, selection and assessment. Sport also had a strong influence on the rise of coaching. Tim Gallwey’s 1974 book, The Inner Game of Tennis, related to a more psychological approach to peak performance. He stated that the opponent in one’s head was greater than the one on the other side of the net.

In 1992, Sir John Whitmore, a motor racing champion, published Coaching for Performance where he developed the most influential model of coaching — the GROW model (goal, reality, options, will). Other self-development masters such as Stephen Covey and Antony Robbins also fueled the appetite for personal development and awareness.

In the 1990s the US went into recession and corporate downsizing became the rage. It may have seemed good in theory, but did not take account of human needs. This left managers and leaders in highly stressed environments without support. This in turn added to the need for individuals and organisations to continuously develop. The need for performance maximisation has also contributed to the upsurge in coaching.

The industry has also changed. Initially coaches were brought in for poor performers (often dealing with performance issues where the manager did not want the hassle or conflict).  Today, the vast majority of coaching is aimed at high level performers and those leading an organisation rather than remedial cases.

We see managers taking on the skills to coach their team members and develop their teams (which used to be pushed away as one of the responsibilities of the human resource managers). Furthermore, as part of the strategy to create a coaching culture within the organisations individuals with the right talents are identified to become internal coaches. Part of their roles and responsibilities are specifically attached to supporting employees usually in other departments and at supervisor or shop floor level. The idea being to address challenges that are unlikely to be discussed with the direct managers.

Many large private, public and voluntary sector organisations (as well as small and medium sized businesses) use executive coaching as a standalone development solution. Or, they incorporate coaching with other organisational development programs.

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One such example is on-boarding programs in particular for senior management and leaders. It is my experience and more widely known today that the majority of leaders in transition fail in meeting the expectations within the first 18 months. The transition could be a new role, location, department or a combination of these. This alarming statistic has led to combining transitional coaching to ensure the leader has the best chance to follow the best practices in the first 100 days.

If there is a single skill that managers must learn to be more effective and be aligned with the changing demands, it is the skills of coaching. It does not stop there – it is also the coaching mindset that brings the authenticity and foundation required to create the change.

What is Coaching?

Executive, business or performance coaching can be simply described as helping someone to learn in order to improve their performance. It is usually a one-to-one activity and is not about issuing instructions but is about helping, showing, giving feedback, explaining and encouraging.

Coaching recognises that most development takes place on the job and that often real learning requires a demanding task or problem to be tackled. The process requires regular and effective contact between coach and client. It recognizes that all sorts of situations – ranging from a change in the leader’s job to gearing up for a specific project – may require this sort of intervention.

Coaching recognizes that the leader already has the vast majority of answers/facts and the coach’s role is to stimulate that knowledge/learning and allow them to unlock and achieve their true potential. As a coach, leader or manager it can be as simple as asking your colleague one single question so they can engage their brain and learn. One question is all it takes for the coach to be inspirational.

What is Coaching?

At the International Coach Federation European Conference in Italy in 2003, there was a seminar session titled ‘From Coach to Awakener’. The message was that “coaching is the process of helping clients perform at the peak of their abilities”. It doesn’t presuppose that people are broken – on the contrary, it helps them identify and develop their strengths. It starts from the assumption that people have the answers. The coach’s role is to help that person to overcome internal resistances and interferences, give feedback on behaviour and give tips and guidance.

Coaching in Organisations

As more organisations realise that it is essential for all managers to learn coaching skills, there are more combinations of manager coach specific training. The external coach supplements the manager’s developmental journey. Also, Internal coaches support the situations where conflicts of interest do not allow the employees to speak comfortably with their managers.

Coaching in Organisations

As managers start to better understand their own strengths and how they can raise their engagement at work it becomes important for the teams to be strength based and this leads to the need for team coaching. Team coaching gives the manager the space to see, hear and sense the difference in the team dynamics and start to address opportunities such as partnerships to enhance the team performance.

The leaders of the organisation have realised the return on investment to bring the strength based coaching culture into teams by investing in their team leaders. The strategic plan involves year on year allocated budgets for coach training, hiring external coaches and developing internal coaches prepared to drive the change necessary.

International Coaching Federation (ICF)

Professional Coach, Thomas Leonard started the International Coach Federation (ICF) in 1995 as a non-profit organization for fellow coaches to support each other and grow the profession. ICF is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting the highest standards in the industry including:

– The 8 core coaching competencies for coaching

– The 7 standards for coaching education providers

– The paths to become a certified coach at three levels by ICF (Associate, Professional, Master)

– The advanced education and certification for team coaching


ICF in December 2023 had over 50,000 members in nearly 150 countries of which almost 90% of them have been certified independently through the highest assessment standards.

ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.


The coaching philosophy is based on the belief that human beings have innate potential and by developing their unique combination of talents and mastering them, it is possible to create extraordinary results.


If you are interested in developing your coaching competencies as a coach, team leader or a professional in an organisation you can gain further insights of the different programs available by visiting the ICE site at or speak to one of our program consultants.


Taymour Miri


Taymour Miri

Taymour Miri is an ICF master coach and a Gallup certified strengths coach and more recently one of the first 136 coaches world wide to be awarded an Advanced Certificate in Team Coaching. He has 30 years’ experience in leadership roles and 20 years of experince in coaching. Taymour has trained over 1,500 coaches across five continents and is the founder of International Coaching Education (ICE).