The Science vs. The Art of Coaching

Art and science of coachingI’ve been working with another coach recently to enrich the student experience at Ultimate Coach University. The program has two major goals for every student: (1) provide students with exposure to the collective body of knowledge around coaching and (2) provide student with the opportunity to apply that knowledge to their own coaching practice.  The alignment of these two goals provides the student with an incredibly powerful learning opportunity.  The former provides a chance to see the science of coaching and the latter provides insights into the art of coaching.   If the emphasis between the two is lopsided, then you won’t be well prepared as a coach.  The sense of balance between the art and science of coaching will let you be part of a great program or an average one.

  • The science of coaching is concerned with tools and replication.
  • The art of coaching is concerned with finding the meaning in the moment
  • Science is about finding significance and understanding the probabilities.
  • Art is about giving significance and unlimited possibilities.
  • Science lets you appreciate the chaos that you don’t understand.
  • Art lets you appreciate the regularity and predictability in nature.

A good training program tries to find that balance between art and science that lets you appreciate replication and rules while at the same time encourages you to own your coaching art.  Besides the recent work at UCU, we’ve also had some opportunities to work on the development of leadership training programs with several companies.  It’s a difficult balance to find.  When you spend money, you want to be able to point to widespread replicable results; those things that you can say prove a solid return on your investment. But if you don’t leave space for the art of leadership, you only have half a program.   An IQ based education without an EQ component leaves you unable to work with others.  And the reverse also is true; an EQ based education without an IQ component lacks substance.

We can learn science, but must experience art.  The best education gives a good blend of both.