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What is systemic coaching?

P Lawrence Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal 2019

The term ‘systemic coaching’ is now widely used, usually to articulate the value for the coach of looking beyond the immediacy of the one-to-one coaching relationship. It is also being used to describe some specific, and quite different, ways of thinking about systems. If coaches are to make sense of this evolving narrative, and to clarify their own individual perspectives, then the industry as a whole must further familiarise itself with relevant thinking from the worlds of management science and organisational development. A necessarily high-level overview of systems theory is presented in this paper, together with illustrations as to how a systemic coaching philosophy might manifest differently when grounded in different ways of thinking about systems. First and second-order systems theories, complexity theories, and theories of complex responsive processes are outlined, ultimately with the objective of enabling coaches to make their own sense of self-as-systemic-coach.

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