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History of Coaching and Mentoring

Here you will find information about the history of coaching and mentoring
and key people who had an impact on their creation and development.
This information comes from special columns published

on the Empowerment Coaching blog.


We will venture to say that today it will be difficult to find another coaching portal,
where so much information on the history of coaching would be collected in one place.

The more so because we try to show the history of coaching and mentoring development from different perspectives.

We also reach back to antiquity, and at the same time in one of the articles we try to show the history of coaching in a condensed way.

So, on the one hand, you will have the opportunity to meet Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, and on the other hand, you will meet such famous names of modern coaching as Tim Gallwey, Sir John Whitmore, and Prof. David Clutterbuck, from the third, to understand how organizations of professional coaches were created and find out how they differ.



Answers to the most important questions about
the history of coaching and mentoring

As of today, that's over 50 minutes of reading. The texts were created based on reliable sources of information and enriched with links to valuable websites. 

Here you will find, among others, answers to the following questions about coaching and mentoring:

Where does the word "coach" come from?

Can the oldest sources of coaching go back to antiquity?

What does the famous Socratic Method have to do with coaching?

Who and when started to use the word " coach " in the modern sense?

Who was the precursor of today's coaching?

Who and when invented business coaching?

Who was the creator of the GROW model?

What stages can we distinguish in the history of coaching development?

What are the most important organizations of coaches and mentors in the world?

How is a coach's accreditation different from a coach's certification?

What influenced the development of coaching and why is it such a difficult sector to regulate?

What is the evidence of the effectiveness of coaching?

What influence does modern technology have on the development of coaching?

What is the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the development of coaching?

Is online coaching less effective than coaching in person?

Who has written the most widely read books on mentoring?

What might the development of mentoring and coaching look like in the future?


Biographies of the most influential people
for the development of coaching and mentoring


If you are interested in biographies of people who were absolutely crucial to the development of coaching and mentoring, especially in Europe, you will also find biographies of the following people among the available articles.

And in them, among others, such curiosities as the unusual way in which John Whitmore inherited the title of nobility; is it possible to be a creator of coaching and a racing driver at the same time; did David Clutterbuck ever work as a stand-up comedian and why?; whether the paths of John Whitmore and David Clutterbuck ever crossed, and behind the scenes of the creation of the most important books for the history and development of business coaching and mentoring.

The biography of Sir John Whitmore, co-founder of business coaching

Biography of prof. David Clutterbuck, the father of mentoring in Europe

Biography of Tim Gallwey, the precursor of coaching in the modern world

Happy reading!

Multi-threaded history of coaching development

If you have reached this point and have carefully read at least the column entitled Coaching  Historyyou probably already see how multi-threaded is the history of coaching and mentoring development.

We are dealing here with the mutual penetration of many ideas, theories, methods, and practices: e.g. psychology, sociology, sport, business management, business consulting, training,


Precisely describing such a multi-threaded story would probably require serious scholarly work and would end up in a multi-volume work. And anyway, it would probably not be possible to capture and unambiguously prove one version of events in many places. Unless it would be possible to talk to all the key people who influenced the development of coaching and mentoring and confront all these versions with each other.

But unfortunately, many of these people are no longer available.

Limited resources on coaching history

There are actually only three books available worldwide that describe the history of coaching.
Two available in English and one in Spanish. And, interestingly, all of them were released only in the second decade of the 21st century.

The first is a book by Leni Wildflower entitled "The Hidden History of Coaching".
This book is very positively evaluated by such recognized authorities in the field of coaching as prof. David Clutterbuck or Jonathan Passmore. Leni Wildflower herself is an executive coach with a PhD and says she wrote the history of coaching because she is passionate about coaches and is keen to appreciate their stories, as well as noticing the amazing people and movements that came before coaching._cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

The second book on the history of coaching is a study entitled "Sourcebook of Coaching History"
by Dr. Vikki G. Brock.
Vikki was one of the first coaches in the world to receive the highest level of MCC certification (Master Coach Certificate) from the international organization ICF. She has published numerous articles on the coaching profession, is an adjunct professor in the university's executive certification program, and speaks frequently on the topic of coaching internationally.
In 1995, she left her 21-year career at Boeing Company to start her own business under the name VB Coaching & Consulting. Dr. Brock specializes in bringing coaching skills to business and industry. Since 2005, Vikki's practice has expanded beyond North America to all continents. As she writes about herself: one third of her clients are international leaders committed to creating differences in their country. 

The third noteworthy book on the history of coaching is "Historia del coaching" written and published in Spanish by two scientists, Rafael Bisquerra Alzina and Meritxella Obiols Soler.

This book covers a lot of topics and looks at the emergence and development of coaching from very different perspectives. He also devotes a special chapter to people he considers key to the history of coaching, including Carl Rogers, Robert Carkhuff, Tim Gallwey, John Whitmore, Thomas Leonard, Laura Whitworth, Anthony Grant and Werner Erhard.

Rafael Bisquerra Alzina is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Barcelona. Doctor of Educational Sciences. Master of pedagogy and psychology. Director of master's studies in the field of emotional intelligence in organizations and master's studies in the field of emotional education and well-being.

Meritxell Obiols Soler holds a PhD in Educational Sciences from the University of Barcelona. She is the head of the Postgraduate Study of Coaching in the Work Environment. Specialist in coaching, emotional intelligence and leadership. Senior Professional Coach certified by AECOP, ICF and ASESCO.

Different opinions and interpretations regarding the history of coaching

Even as to the etymology of the word "coach" (of its origin), there is no unambiguous agreement today.
David Clutterbuck, for example, believes that the word "coach" comes from the English word "coax". And in his opinion, this translates into the persuasive nature of the conversation conducted during the coaching session.

In addition, different scientists mark breakthrough moments in the history of the development of these disciplines differently. Not for everyone Tim Gallwey is the precursor along with his 1974 book "The Inner Game". Others believe that the beginnings of coaching can be found in the monograph published in 1926 "Psychology of Coaching" written by American sports psychologist Coleman Griffith. 

I am not a scientist, much less a historian and I do not even try to argue with individual opinions. I do not have the appropriate knowledge and experience for this. My goal, however, is to show the multithreaded historical background, which undoubtedly affects the current state of both coaching and mentoring and is a source of some tension that we can observe between the supporters of both disciplines.


It is also significant that both sectors, in the business sense, are now huge sources of profit, estimated at billions of dollars annually. And that, especially in today's world driven by consumerism and competition, unfortunately has a huge impact.

The History of Coaching - Empowerment Coaching Krakow
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