Thomas Leonard was a brilliant leader who led with generosity rather than ego.
He started the 1st coaching school in 1992. Launched the first professional association of coaches (ICF) in 1995. Sold his first school to a colleague and started a second school in 2001. Established another professional association of coaches (IAC) in 2003 because he disagreed with how the ICF certified coaches. He passed away a few weeks later of heart failure at the age of 47.
Thomas' passing left an enormous chasm in this fledgling profession. Many tried to fill it, some with questionable intentions and disastrous results. Without strong leadership setting expectations for the practice and ethics of coaching, the profession developed a reputation problem but continued to grow, anyway.
Here are a few ways coaching has changed in the past 20 years:
- Today, many coaches work in large organizations instead of for themselves. For some, coaching is just a job description. Others have made a stand for coaching without an agenda, the way Thomas taught thousands of us to coach from the beginning. Coaching continues to grow.
- There are now many university degree and certificate programs available. And there are multiple certifications to choose from.
- Coaching still does not have a strong research basis. IAPPC and other organizations are working to change this. The amazing thing is that research-based coaching tends to be freer and even more effective.
- Artificial Intelligence and smart phone apps proliferate. Researcher, Richard Boyatzis just launched his Helping People Change coaching app for iPhone.
It's hard to imagine what coaching would be like if Thomas were still here. But going back to the beginning shows that we have indeed grown beyond our roots..
If you would like to go back to the beginning and explore Thomas' work for free, click below: