Describing the Masteries Development

by Des Walsh

had the privilege of being on the teams for two stages of the
development of the new IAC Masteries. This was a great experience,
especially once we figured out the practical implications of working
simultaneously across different time zones.

challenges such as time zones aside, this exercise of working with
groups of wise and highly experienced coaches from around the world on
the IAC Coaching Masteries was one of the most interesting and
stimulating experiences of my life.

among memories of many great conversations, always friendly and
civilized but often vigorous, stretching debates about the right word
or phrase, is the memory of silences.

was actually quite amusing at times, to be sitting there, phone to my
ear, for what seemed like several minutes after someone had shared a
profound insight or given us a brilliant form of words to express, in
part, the often barely-expressible, and wondering had the line dropped
out. It never had. We were all just relishing the moment. Eventually
someone would speak up, so we could move on to the next point.

Not that the process was always, or even mainly, that sublime.

was a lot of hard work, a lot of being challenged by one another about
the implications of how the masteries statements, definitions of
criteria and descriptions of effective and ineffective behaviors might
play out across a range of cultures and values-frameworks.

that regard, it was a decided benefit that the groups included people
not only from different countries but also from countries where the
primary language is not English. It was one thing to discuss the
perceived meaning of a word or phrase as between UK and American, or
Canadian, or Australian English. It was a whole new conversation to
have the perspective of a fluent English speaker whose first language
was nevertheless not English.

aspect of the work which I found most interesting, most tantalizing and
sometimes most frustrating was how to provide recognition and scope, in
how we worded the Masteries, for different types of coaching and
different perceptions of the purposes and aims of coaching. We knew
that to have a set of Masteries which would be seen as appropriate, by
our peers and by those seeking to be credentialed in terms of those
Masteries, we would have to be as sure as we could be that the
conceptual framing and the language and expression would have to be
very clear and as unequivocal as possible.

own framework for that task included wanting to see the Masteries
defined and described in such a way that coaches and others would
recognize that there are some key skills and behaviors to be possessed
or learned and practiced, which are not bestowed just by being
knowledgeable in a particular, other-than-coaching field. For example,
a person with a particular profession or skill who decided tomorrow to
call herself or himself a coach in that field would realize from
studying the Masteries that there are certain coach skills and
behaviors they need to have or acquire, in addition to their
predominant, non-coaching expertise to date, in order to be confident
of giving real coaching value to their clients.

challenge was the requirement for us to be original in our formulations
of the Masteries. The IAC Masteries had to be a new creation, neither a
copy nor an adaptation of some other schema and yet as comprehensive as
we could manage.

I believe we did well. And I am aware that even more has been done since I was directly involved.

all of this, the focus and dedication of the IAC leadership and the
project team leaders has been inspiring. I've seen a lot of
professional and volunteer organizations in my time and helped to run
some. Consistently visionary, practical and assured leadership of the
quality we have with IAC does not come along often.

Des Walsh

is a business coach and blogging evangelist. He is based on Australia's
Gold Coast region. A former senior government executive and
subsequently a communications consultant, he was inspired to become a
coach after meeting Thomas Leonard in Sydney in 2002. 

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