Vertical coaching unwrapped – a short introduction

Copyright© 2019, Peter Bluckert. All rights reserved.

If you’re already familiar with coaching you might be wondering what’s different about coaching from a vertical lens.

In essence, this is coaching that’s tailored to the vertical stage of development of the individual client.

So, whilst working on live content, current issues and problems, these challenges are simultaneously used as learning opportunities to think differently, and come at life differently.

The coach seeks to understand their client’s perspective-taking, expand their worldview, and support deeper personal transformation, whilst also encouraging curiosity and a desire to grow and develop.

The parallel focus on content and the client’s evolving way of being, is the double-task of vertical development coaching.

The experienced vertical coach

The experienced vertical coach will be interested in:

  • The person’s use of language,
  • Their primary concerns,
  • What’s most alive, pressing and important to them,
  • What energises or de-energises them,
  • What patterns regularly re-surface, and
  • The kinds of questions they’re wrestling with.

And, whilst these are revealed within the coaching conversation, they’re also made known through the coaching relationship itself and the nature of the contact in the here-and-now immediacy of a session. For example, the coach will be conscious of their client’s capacity to listen, reflect and engage in dialogue.

Helping people deepen their awareness

A key objective of developmental coaching is to help people deepen their awareness, notice and see more, and be in a position to take a perspective on what was formerly outside of awareness. In practice, this includes helping the person uncover and understand their deeper core beliefs, assumptions, and worldview because these are the lenses through which they meet the world.

Bringing these into awareness enables the person to examine and re-evaluate aspects of their meaning-making system – that which creates their ‘reality’- and differentiate themselves from it.

This enables the person to look at himself or herself, recognise the value and the limitations of their worldview and make judgments about what still holds true and what they may want to let go of. In other words, to take a perspective on one’s own perspective-taking which in itself represents a new capacity.

A familiar example to experienced coaches

A familiar example to experienced coaches, is the individual who believes they always have to be the one to take charge, organise everything, and come up with the answers.

They may never have seen this in themselves – it’s still outside awareness in Subject. Or, it may have been brought to their attention through feedback, yet when moments of truth arrive in daily life, their default is to take over and problem-solve.

Whilst there will be positive aspects to this, it may leave others feeling dis-empowered, and frustrated. If the coach is able to work with the individual on this, they are likely to hear something like this –

‘I get it but this won’t be easy for me to change. Ever since I was small in my family, I was the one to sort things out. I felt I had to – others weren’t really doing what was needed. So, I filled the gap. It’s now grown a life of its own and I guess my sense of myself is wrapped up in it. I fix things, that’s who I am’.

A focus on lines of development

It’s important that developmental coaching includes a focus on lines of development as well as stage development.

Irrespective of the centre of gravity a person is primarily operating from, he or she will have grown and developed some lines to a greater extent than others. They may already be aware of this but if not, it’s likely to emerge from a verbal 360-feedback process.

An experienced coach will also notice well-developed and less developed lines of development within the coaching relationship itself, for example, emotional maturity or the lack of.

In line with other approaches to coaching, a core objective is to facilitate shifts, breakthroughs and developmental movement and provide support and encouragement during inevitable fallbacks and periods of regression.

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