Smart Moves: Unlocking potential with the `Inner Game'

Managers scramble to be coaches, but often they are the ones who need advice, writes Roger Trapp

Business has used the terminology of sport for almost as long as it has borrowed the jargon of the military. So, in one sense, the current enthusiasm for coaching is merely the continuation of a trend.

However, much of what is currently called coaching has more to do with psychology than with the sports ground. Though organisations seek to link such efforts to business goals, they are often perceived to be rather self-indulgent "couch sessions".

It is a confused area, of course, since there are many sports - notably tennis and golf - where the individual takes precedence over the team and where the role of psychology has been long acknowledged.

And just to complicate matters further, Tim Gallwey, whose Inner Game... series of books is credited with creating the field of sports psychology, is urging a greater emphasis on the sport aspect.

Mr Gallwey, who has applied his thinking to business in his most recent book The Inner Game of Work, has joined a panel of experts in the field put together by the management consultancy Deloitte Consulting.

Pointing out that Mr Gallwey will be working alongside such prominent figures as the former athlete David Hemery and Tony Morgan, chief executive of the Industrial Society. John Everett, Deloitte's managing partner, said the firm was demonstrating its commitment to the concept by trying to "tap every organisation who we rate as being at the leading edge in this area".

Deloitte is backing the coaching initiative because it is seeking to differentiate itself in the increasingly competitive consultancy field through its emphasis on people. "Coaching is all about unlocking potential," says Mr Everett, adding that he sees it as a great motivator as well as an effective way of helping them to learn quickly and work with clients.

The link between coaching and learning is crucial to Mr Gallwey, too. "Managers' most common response to the growing demand for corporations to become learning organisations is to scramble to be the teacher, not the taught - the coach, not the coached," he says.

"But to be an effective coach, an individual must understand the nature of learning." And one of the things about learning is that it is a "double- edged sword," he says, adding that it can be satisfying while also revealing how little a person knows.

A further hurdle to the advancement of coaching has been the perception that it is a means of correcting behaviour, even though in sports it is quite normal for somebody at the top of their field - whether Tiger Woods in golf or Pete Sampras in tennis - to seek a coach. Moreover, it is widely accepted in sports that such a person need not have been as proficient as their charge.

Times are changing, though. Since The Inner Game of Tennis appeared 25 years ago, Mr Gallwey has found himself in increasing demand by businesses. And he thinks business is more receptive to this approach than it is to education.

He sees coaching as particularly effective in helping companies deal with what he terms "the tunnel vision of performance momentum". Work that focuses strictly on performance results does so at the expense of the other legs of the "work triangle" - learning and experience, he says. It "produces a kind of tunnel vision that prevents workers from being fully aware and focused".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

£40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'