"Why Athletic-Style Coaching Fails The Coach
and The Client In Business"
In our society, at least the developed world,
there is a lingering question about winning. I found
this piece from Coachville's new leader Dave Buck on
a declaration on coaching that is directed towards
I'm going to use it to show
you the contrast
in leadership styles from Dave's winning style to my
leadership philosophy: Generati.
I'm not doing this to show up Dave, although I'm
not shirking from pointing out where I have serious
differences with him. I'm doing this to help you
understand that as long as we focus on the outcome,
rather than the journey, we are dooming leadership to a cul de
sac. [a road that leads to a dead end]
My comments are in blue.
I want to set this up in terms of context.
Dave's declaration below
comes from a new R&D effort led by Dave at Coachville and is probably not the final version,
lest you find it here and realize there are other
versions. By writing this muse I hope to influence
those who to see the cul de sac Dave is
Years ago I gave up athletic-style "win-based"
coaching, from which in large part Dave Buck seems
to draw his motivation. The reason I walked away
after having a pretty good collegiate football
career with numerous coaching offers is that I had had enough of the "winning
Again, my remarks are in
Dave's remarks are left in black.
will also want to note that the context here is
professional coaching, and not athletic-style
coaching which more than likely influences Dave's
writing I suspect.
-------------excerpted with permission
Coaches Declaration of Purpose...
Dear Player, I AM Your Coach
There is not "I AM" in
coaching because it sets up immediately the wrong
locus of control, that "I" the coach will be
controlling the interactions. There is only "you" as
that is where work is done on performance, change
and transformation--transcendence if you like.
be skeptical when a coach starts out an
interaction with "I".
Thank you for hiring me as your coach. We have a lot
of work to do!!
There is no "we" in
coaching. The reason being is that it's all about
them. It's not "our" responsibility to do work,
other than to observe them, notice them, and to
support their efforts to build capability. "We"
coaching produces co-dependencies that are very
difficult to unwind. There is a fine line between a
professional coach and the client, but as fine as
that line is, it's a big as the wall of china in
question how much work your coach is going to do
or how much responsibility they are willing to
accept for your failure before starting one of
Please allow me to set the stage for our work
together by sharing with you what I’m all about.
All stage setting should be
done through a system of PAAR: power,
accountability, authority and responsibility in the
system. In other words, since coaches do not have
PAAR over their clients--unless as Dave is doing
here--putting their clients in a codependent mode;
it's critical for "clients" to set the stage. Again,
this is further validation that the coach (according
to Dave) has
"taken" the leadership role. This may work well with
people who are "other-directed" and need someone to
lead them, but the people that coaching will appeal
to and be purchased by are those people who are
struggling with other-direction and actually want
something different than being told what to do.
These people are looking
for a guide, who notices where they are, surfaces
right action in an interaction with them and tests
it for actionability. The don't want a third-party
coming in and taking over--setting the stage? This
is all about the coach and quite frankly folks, in
my 19 years of practice as a coach...management can
do a better, more efficient job for those people who
need leadership in this manner, so why hire a much
more expensive coach, who in the end, gets to "walk
away" without accountability for results they
helped create--or the failure to create results?
One word of experience
I have seen
produce significant successes, and almost always
significant failures. I call this roller-coaster
coaching. Here's why. Developmental research has
shown that people function at least "one"
developmental level higher (read more capable to
function with broader perspective) in support, than they do
on their own.
This speaks to the reason
why it feels good to be with a coach, a cheerleader,
an athletic coach so many of us remember who
"inspired us" to many achievements...and why for the
most part, those are just good memories and not
reality any more. Even though you are able to
perform in support at high levels, those levels are
not actionable for you over time and you're going to
come down, to meet your match.
I'm not saying, high
performance is not worth striving for in life and
business. But what I am saying, at what price? Are
you making a memory or are you finding ways to
become sustainably more happy in your life and
work--a truly short and long-term approach in
Warning: be careful
around anyone who wants to set a stage for your life
I have one purpose and one purpose only: I am here
to help you win.
Unfortunately this is just
the wrong approach in coaching, whether it be in
athletics, drama, or professional life or business
coaching. Winning is just a cul de sac that is not
generative long term. It's completely unsustainable,
uses significant levels of resources, alienates
people who don't win--they are called losers, and
most of all puts the wrong focus on action in a
Along with a focus on
greatness, I'm deeply disappointed that this malarky
is being offered by someone who claims to lead a
large coaching community. [Although most people
should be aware of that this person did not build
this community. It was build by Thomas Leonard and
is a clear demonstration of an old axiom I tell
people...when you have a list (database) [even if
you didn't built it], you have capital to use.
watch with care when you hear people talking
about having a single purpose, especially with
the word "win" in it.
I will help you to play better and win more games.
The games, the rules, the definition of winning,
they are up to you. But no matter what, our
objective together is for you to win. Everything
else we will do – and we’ll do a LOT – is a
byproduct of that single purpose.
Again, I step forward and
voice my opposition to this purpose statement for
Clearly, this is not what
professional coaching is about in my opinion. In
fact, I'm angry with Dave Buck for taking a platform
like this and profligating such blather on
Did I mention the "we"
thing? Clearly, professional coaching, like
leadership is being able to foster capability where
it can occur. This allows people to make and solve
different kinds of problems, but more so than this
principle, professional coaching needs to lead the
way to sustainable ends, through efficient and
A focus on greatness or
winning is the inefficient and ineffective means to
unsustainable action by anyone.
Not only is teaching our
children this modality when they are young and
impressionable in their encounters with athletic
coaches and programs driven to win at all costs...we
spend the rest of our lives trying to live out these
fantasies, which makes what Dave is saying resonate
with us, even if it is blind ambition.
The purpose of professional
coaching is to create a safe place for people to
discover, disclose and accept them selves, while
discovering others, disclosing to others and
receiving disclosure (feedback) towards an
engagement of developing our selves, our processes,
our systems and our ecology towards sustainable
conditions for all.
Will people win? Of course.
Will people lose? Undoubtedly. Yet, how you play the
game is far more important than whether you win. And
what happens as a result of you playing the game is
without question much more important than focusing
on winning--which at best, only creates losers.
Let me make a statement
here about Generati.
Over the years, I've tried
to promote in my own life and work, the concept I
coined called Generati; like digerati or literai, a
culture dedicated to a specific purpose: through
efficient, effective means create sustainable ends.
There is no question, this
is not easy, either for me, it's inventor, or for
others that come across it in practice. It is formed
on the pursuit of rightaction™:
the right people, doing the right things, in the
right ways, in the right space, at the right time,
for the right reasons to get the rightsresults™.
Warning: be careful
of singling out a purpose and following it
without considering all the ramifications of the
games you're playing and not playing!
Playing to win is not a common thing
I honor you for your courage; for your willingness
to step out onto the field and give everything you
have to your cherished objective – this game you
love. Playing a game that truly matters takes guts
and heart. Most people choose to go through the
motions in other peoples games. Not YOU! You want to
play your game and you want to win. I admire you for
that. It is not a common thing.
Locker room speeches aside.
I prefer the common. To focus, instead of on
winning, to doing the work on my own path and when
that comes into contact with others, serving their
growth on their path towards a sustainable set of
results for all humanity, for the entire planet,
rather than merely focusing on how much guts and
heart it takes to win. It takes a lot more guts to
get hold of your own ego needs and serve others--I
admire you for that.
surrender to the drive to play games, instead
work steadily on a path or unfolding your unique
gifts and talents. Be common.
Winning requires courage
Winning takes courage because in order to win, there
MUST be the possibility of losing. If you can’t
lose, it’s not really a game worth playing. And
losing is hard. The truth is, you will lose some
games, maybe a lot of games. But I promise you that
each game lost will teach us something about what we
need to do to help you play to win the next game.
Not winning takes
While we do learn in
failure, the focus on either/or disturbs me greatly.
There is no--either you win or lose--there is the
journey of service, of becoming who you are,
learning about others and engaging people. When that
is competition that is no reason to focus on who
wins or loses--although every game has one of each
in the old paradigm.
I'm for throwing out the
old paradigm, let's celebrate how well we played,
how capability we created, and how sustainable we
look beyond either/or, winning and losing,
greatness or not.
Winning is a responsibility – But it’s FUN
The funny thing is, that while winning is a thrill,
it’s hard too! Winning requires dedication, a
willingness to focus and to practice. It also
requires that you make sure your that whole world is
in harmony with you and your game; this takes some
work But the biggest challenge is that becoming a
winner puts you in a position of responsibility.
Once you start winning, people will look up to you,
they will count on you and expect more winning from
you. But if you are willing to take the
responsibility, it can be A LOT OF FUN!
the responsibility lies in learning that focus
and practice have new meaning when we throw out the need to win, or to
keep from losing. Our ego struggle is all about
winning and losing...and keeping score. What about
Isn't a focus on play, on
contribution, on service to your fellow teammates
more important than whether you win or lose?
By putting forward the
concept of winning as the be all, do all, we are
focusing on the wrong leverage point and we're going
to continue to fragment, to separate, to live
unsustainably and unhappily.
There is far more power,
authority, accountability and responsibility (PAAR)
in deciding to move beyond winning and losing, to
see past the world as being equal and into the prism
of who we are as a person and as a people living on
a planet hurtling through space.
responsibility lies with each of us, not to win, but
How do I do what I do?
Well I have a process, a method, a way of working
that is designed to help you win.
I have written extensively
about the focus that the biggest majority of
coaching pundits have on coaching process, or
effectiveness. Translated, that means, I do this and
you get that--a quid pro quo mentality with it's
roots in the paradigm of either/or, winning or
It's not my method, my
process, or my way of working with you that matters.
It's what you decide as rightaction...the specific
paradigm you choose to become what you must become
to serve and contribute.
Warning: be careful
of processes that work for other people, in most
cases they WON'T work for you!
Essentially we’ll do five things:
Clarify your game
What game are you playing? Why are you playing it?
What does winning look like? What are the rules of
your game and how do you keep score. Basically, in
this phase I’ll be asking you a lot of questions and
you’ll be doing a lot of thinking.
When the coach is talking,
whether it is asking a lot of questions, or making
statements, or giving feedback, it is about the
coach. As developmental coaches concerned about
building capability, we are not concerned with
questions. We are not concerned with answers. A
developmental coach is concerned about connection:
the ability to notice, to observe the client's
capability to notice and to serve their growth in
capability to notice.
All of the doing can be
done much more economically with management and
leadership in one's life, or in one's business.
Coaching must be done in
triangulation: triangulated with one's purpose or
right action and one's behavior, in a constant flow
of experience, reflection, conceptualization and
experimentation. When we are short on any of these,
we create lopsided learning and slow growth and
While clarification is an
essential competence of coaching, it's really about
connection at all levels that makes coaching
efficient, effective and sustainable.
More often, the real work
is done with appropriate silence and respect,
rather than questioning--interrogation to solve
often less important problems.
For those of you who don't
understand why I focus so much on efficiency,
effectiveness and sustainability...it's because in
order to identify what intervention method a client
should select, we should be able to select from
many, as it's a complex world.
To many in coaching,
coaching is this catch-all consulting process that
anyone can do with anyone else. This is and has been
a major error preventing the growth of coaching into
the mainstream. Because coaches who are arrogant
enough to view themselves as the one-stop shop to
all your problems are continuing to practice under
this illusion, coaching itself will struggle for
years to come to find it's place among the array of
methods proven to be successful in many different
kinds of circumstances.
to do when is an art and science few coaches
Personalized skills and strategy
We’ll work together on practices that improve your
skills. As your coach I’ll help you practice well so
that you play well. Then we’ll work on your overall
strategy as well as your game plan for each game
I want to point out that
life and work is not about skills or skill
development, per se. And coaching shouldn't be
either. It's lots more efficient and effective to do
skill development in a training atmosphere, or an
atmosphere of teaching, usually where many people
are being taught at the same time, so you can share
and serve others while you learn!
If you look into
standardized HR (human resources) practices, you
will find an equal focus on knowledge, skill and
To focus on skills is
assuming we already know enough and have the
ability, that it is just a matter of skills
development? In most cases, it will NOT be a skills
issue. Again, you have to understand Dave's context
as a soccer coach and how he is confused about what
professional life and business coaching really is
Even with an understanding
of KSAs, we know that life seldom revolves around
KSAs. What my experience and more than 100 years of
research has shown is that our lives revolve around
our motivational ends. Skill acquisition actually is
a byproduct of our motivation.
So, here's a coaching
You find out what skills
you're missing and I'll show you why you're not
motivated to develop them...and that by developing
those skills you've entered the realm of
unsustainabilitiy. Find out what skills you have and
put yourself in a position to use those over and
over again, save your money that you would have
spent on Dave's coaching and invest it in the areas
where you currently have skills and make them
better. Then make sure you look for a place that
before you work on skills, make sure it's skills
that are the issue...it could be you're
completely out of alignment with what you need
to do or be.
Expand your awareness of the “inside game”
The simple truth about playing to win is this: the
more you can see, the better you will play. This is
where the “inside game” comes into the picture. If
your thoughts or feelings or emotions are mixed up –
and you are not aware of it – it will take you out
of your game. We can’t have that. We need you to be
all there at game time.
There is something in that
paragraph that I can agree with.
The more you see...the more
Now, how you are with that
is what matters to you. Learn that you can't
separate out your thoughts and feelings, that they
are intersubjective, which means thoughts are not
ever without feeling, that emotions are never
separate from sensation, from knowing. Learn to play
"with" your thoughts and feelings active...learn to
notice what it means when thoughts and feelings come
and go. Learn to recognize sensation and cognition
of those feelings, emotions and motivations.
The game I agree is an
internal game, but only in so far as you forget
about the need to win, or the fear of losses.
focus on the full range of experience, noting
where there are opportunities to consider how
you sense, feel, react and are motivated.
Design your winning environment
My ultimate job with you is to help you design the
world around you so that your game comes to life.
Once your game comes to life the rest is easy. We’ll
work on getting your friends and family into your
game in a supportive way. We’ll organize your home
and office so that there are no obstacles that
prevent you from playing well. We’ll create a
support team to take care of the things that help
you win. And we’ll make sure that there are people
around you who challenge you and inspire you.
I don't disagree with the
subject here, it's one I wrote an entire book about
a few years ago. The key is that if you notice
closely this is about the coach figuring all of this
out. What's more (and the main disagreement between
myself and Thomas Leonard's clean sweep assessment that
many coaches use in one form or another) is the
nature of standardization. In everything I see in
coaching, including all of the industry
organizations is the "need" to standardize people.
in my view, each of us is
different. We may not need family and friends around
us to have an appropriate design. We may not need an
organized home or office, or even for that matter to
remove our "tolerations" (a favorite pet peeve of
mine), even it was prudent to do so. Life is not
about design, the design is about life. If you
understand the subtlety here, you'll realize the
first place to begin working is NOT on your design,
but your own self-knowing.
Until self-knowledge is
used to understand why and how we play, we will end
up producing very inefficient, and effective, almost
always unsustainable designs. Coaching is not a
matter of spending a few weeks with an interior
designer, or an organizational specialist?
Coaching has to do with
creating capability to transcend design, to become
resilient regardless of what life tosses at you. The
only standard for resilience is self-knowledge and
I've not seen that word, or paradigm offered here?
if anyone approaches you with a standarization
method be wary--choose from among alternatives!
Evaluate wins and losses and learn from them
On a regular basis we will evaluate your progress.
How are you doing? What have we learned from recent
games? If we need to take a different course, this
is where we will do it.
As long as it requires a
coach for you to evaluate progress of success and
failure, you have a co-dependency. Which in most
cases prevents "on the ground" in the moment
learning. This entire approach is directive and
dominant on the person who is being coached,
depending on coaching effectiveness, rather than
learn to self-evaluate, self-correct and
How is coaching unique?
You will notice that Dave
doesn't take the time to show you that coaching has
many facets, at least 5 major practice areas:
personal, business, executive, career and
organizational coaching, with many more sub-areas
and branches. Until we distinguish these areas
clearly in coaching, along with the major modalities
of coaching: prescriptive (Dave's brand),
developmental and most likely ontological, we can't
really be clear on how we set ourselves a part from
coaching is not where coaches are everything to
Often players wonder what distinguishes a coach from
some of the other wonderful helping professionals
available. This is a BIG question. Here are a few
quick thoughts to create a basic understanding…
A consultant will help you understand a situation
and share expertise and knowledge;
I’ll share with you everything I know if and when
you need it. If I don’t have some expertise you
need, I will help you find it.
This statement is
confusing. Dave basically has outlined above nothing
more than a personal consulting paradigm. Therefore,
his definition of a consultant qualifies his methods
Although I do believe that
Dave's methods fit best under what I would term
loosely--prescriptive coaching--he seems to ride on
all sides of the fence;
showing you that his methods are consulting by his
definition, and second, that if he's not good at
what he is hired for, he'll help you hire other
be cynical about people who can't define what
they do and how they specifically do it...people
who are jack of all trades, are jack of all
trades and not coaches in my opinion. Remember,
there is no legal protection for either, beware
of the snake oil people.
A counselor will share wisdom and help you make
When you are troubled it is very hard to play well.
I’ll do this whenever your trouble is related to the
game we are playing. If it is outside the game, I’ll
help if I can. If not, we’ll find you someone who
This particular statement
now has Dave indicating that his method is not only
consulting, but counseling. I'm sure all the trained
counselors out there would take offense to someone
coming in and indicating that they will try to
counsel you, and after they can't help you, they
will find you someone. Does this not depend on the
coach's skill at counseling to know when the person
If you think this is
dangerous to people and the profession, read on!
refuse to work with people who claim things like
A therapist will help you heal wounds from the past
I have some skills in this area. But if the wound is
too deep and we need a professional, I’ll help you
find someone to help you. Then when you are ready,
we’ll get you back into the game.
What in the world is too
deep and who is deciding that?
Quite frankly folks, if you
buy what he's said so far, you'll find yourself in
deep doodoo, if you keep following this
unprofessional advice! The ONLY people who should be
working with people in any kind of therapy is a
trained and licensed therapist. [period]
Stay away, completely away
from dealing with these areas...but if you're not
convinced, that the Dave Buck method is completely
flawed, read the next one.
hire a coach who is NOT a therapist, or claims
A psychologist will help you understand your
Well, everyone knows that a coach is a part time
psychologist because the mental game is so important
to winning. But if we can’t figure out where you are
blocked, we’ll call in an expert.
Don't you dare call me a part-time psychologist
Dave Buck. I take offense at this notion. I am not,
nor do I wish to be a psychologist.
psy·chol·o·gist [ sī kóll
o jist ] (plural
1. professional in psychology: a professional
who studies behavior and experience, and who is
licensed to provide therapeutic services or to
work in an academic setting
psychologists don't make really good coaches
unless they are "re-trained" and eliminate
pathology-paradigms they are inculcated into
during their psychology indoctrination--at least
that is my experience with training them as
*Developmental Coach Training DOES improve their
psychological work I have found, but they are
not first a coach, but a psychologist
coaching--while subtle, the difference is
A trainer will teach you new skills
This is one of my main jobs as a coach. I’ll teach
you the skills you need to win and I’ll design it
just for you based on your situation. If we need to
find you a specialist for some skill that you really
need that I can’t teach you, we’ll do it.
Why hire an expensive coach
when you can hire a trainer for 1/3 the cost? If you
want to spend more money, you'll get a person who
actually has been trained as a trainer and is a
practicing trainer, a person who does it full time,
instead of a pop trainer, pop psychologist, pop
therapist, I think you get my drift here.
Remember what I've said
guides you as a coach?
Let trainers, train,
therapists do therapy, psychologists do their thing
and STOP before hiring a coaches that says they do
all of this!
you've ever played or watch major college or
professional sports, you'll realize that the
head coach these days doesn't do any real
training, skill-building, or teaching. They
focus on strategic direction, issues that are
essentially beyond the behavior of individuals
to the behavior of the system. I believe if you
were going to take a lesson from athletics, this
is the one to grab and leave most of the rest.
do not confuse coaching with training!
As your coach, I’ll do any and all of those things
when you need me to. But only when they will help
you play better and win more games!
Many professionals are trained to stay uninvolved;
to maintain a cool, professional detachment. And for
most professions that is wise. But I am not like
most other professionals. I am YOUR coach.
So… Will I be involved? Do I care about the outcome?
Do I have a stake in it all?
Your damn right I’ll be involved! I want you to win.
I want you to play well. I want you to be the best
player you can be AND I want your life to be great
at the same time.
I DO have a stake in the outcome. If you win, that
helps me attract more great players who also want to
win. THAT’S MY GAME; To coach great players in BIG
games. By helping you win, that helps me win.
I promise to always keep my agenda clear and on the
table AND I will never put my agenda before yours.
But I do have an agenda: I want you to win.
I will console you when you lose. But it you don’t
play well, I won’t be happy; I won’t say “It’s OK”.
It’s NOT OK! Get your game together and get back out
I will maintain objectivity, though. I won’t get
caught up in the swirl of your emotions; I won’t
internalize your situation. If I did that I’d be of
no use to you when the game gets tough. But I WILL
BE INVOLVED. I do CARE. I WILL LOSE SLEEP if it’s
not going well for you. And I will dance with joy
when you win. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.
YOU WILL WIN!
This statement of purpose is in it's early stages
but feel free to use any part of it in your work,
conversations, web copy etc. (We do NOT request
attribution on this, you are free to use it)
Share your thoughts via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Coach Dave Buck
declaration is just an
unfortunate and naive. It is not a well thought-through set of
statements. While a disclaimer exists below, to me,
it is unprofessional to make statements like this
and put them into the generally confused public,
more over to try to convince new coaches that this
is the way to go is a disservice.
Professional coaching needs
to break away from the prescriptive nature of
athletic-coaching. Athletic coaching deals with
individuals engaged in being taught a sport.
coaches could learn a lot from professional coaching
about the nature of working with people outside of
purely prescriptive, directive or cheerleading
Dave indicates that he has
little knowledge of the vast array of tools that are
available to professional coaches and like he says,
he's interested in quid pro quo...you win so he
To me, I've had enough of
I will continue to teach
the coaches that come into contact with me, that
what Dave is saying is nothing more than a cul de
sac--a very dangerous one, to coach, to client and
to the industry.
Coaches SHOULD NOT try to
practice beyond their immediate expertise.
Coaches SHOULD learn as
much as they can about how to interact with clients
without assuming any PAAR over their outcomes.
And finally, if coaches
like Dave Buck are so arrogant to think that it is
"their" coaching which has produced success with
clients, instead of the client's effectiveness and
most likely timing, then
the coaching industry is in a sad state of affairs.
I have written extensively about coaching and all
the items that I mentioned above. If you wish to
read more intensively about any of the topics I
mentioned, feel free to visit my personal
join us at Leadership
University for coach training.
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