Developmental Coaching

Developmental coaching is a highly reflective and transformative process of evolving self awareness.  Developmental coaching is based on theories of adult learning and development, specifically constructive-developmental theory.

The term “constructive-developmental” was first suggested by Robert Kegan (1980), a professor in adult learning and development at Harvard University, to refer to a stream of work in psychology that focuses on the development of meaning and meaning-making processes across the lifespan. The theory is “constructive” in that it deals with how a person constructs and interprets their experiences.  It is “developmental”  in that constructions and interpretations of an experience grow more complex over time.

An individual’s order of development influences what one can notice or can become aware of, and therefore, what one can describe, reflect on, and change.   The aim of developmental coaching is to turn a subjective way of knowing into the object of reflection, so that a person is capable of differentiating and integrating more complex life experiences.

A typical leader may be at the ‘independent’ stage of development, readily assuming responsibilities,  comfortably being held accountable, readily operating in a hierarchical system of accountability, making “head” over “heart” decisions and working around their weaknesses (e.g., difficulty accepting criticism, difficulty relaxing, difficulty expressing emotion).  Whilst this is the developmental stage normally associated with the ‘executive’, there is a stage beyond which is associated with interconnectivity, systems thinking, and the deep satisfaction of living a meaningful life.   It is thought that fewer than 2 percent of executives experience the more advanced stages of development.

Developmental coaching is not a ‘quick fix’ for any challenges an individual may have in making sense of themselves, their own reactions, and their resistance to change .  It is a process which will take about 12 months, with an average two coaching sessions per month.  Sue is using Dr Susanne Cook-Greuter’s Leadership Maturity Framework to assess client developmental milestones.  The assessment cost is $950 and is undertaken by a panel of trained assessors located in the US.  At $200 per session, this is an investment of $5,100.  The return on investment, however, is immeasurable.