Intercultural coaching, what’s missing?

Nowadays there is a focus on two concerns in the world of business: (1) human resources’ employability of individuals who are able to deal with (2) organizational competitive edge.

This clearly addresses the organizational culture. Leadership, in response to these issues on a global level, is becoming more aware of the need for an organizational culture that promotes both simultaneously; the alignment with an organizational vision and mission on one hand, and the flexibility and adaptability of inclusion and merger of other cultures on the other.

This demands a balance between structure and fluidity. In essence leaders who have this awareness provide the resources necessary for entrepreneurship that initiate divergent changes and implement them accordingly.  The self-awareness/self-questioning approach that is promoted through the coaching profession seems to be lacking in all the training and academic preparation of leadership. Leaders are finding it necessary to come up with interventions to support their self-development and continuous (re)adaptation to new realities (Barosa-Pereira 2014).

The 11 coaching competencies published in March 1999 by the ICF were formed through the work of the Portfolio Exam Committee and based on the common successful practices of experienced coaches in western cultures (Barosa-Pereira 2014). The challenge arises when moving to a different culture, where there is an additional competency related to cultural awareness, which is yet to be identified. Also pertaining to each competency, to what extent can it be implemented or not implemented across-culture. Finally, does the competency model need to be reviewed and updated in the light of the organizations’ intercultural communication and society in general?

Many coaches still think they don’t need this kind of training. They claim they are coaching in their own home town. The newly concluded 2016 election is proving this assumption as false. With the rise in cultural diversity around the USA and Europe due to constant immigration and refugee movement, and with the awakening of racism and single mindedness due to the new presidential elections, when this article is written, I can confidently say: “There has never been a time when cultural competency is needed as much”.

The Last few weeks I coached a client who, due to all of this got involved in interfaith dialogue and expressed to me that the election has awakened them up to the fact that they know very little about other faiths and cultures. Thousands of Americans are now learning what it means to be with others. Big organizations and retails chains are facing losses due to the lack of training their employees have towards tolerating the other cultures and faiths. America is waking up to the fact that intercultural education, training and coaching has never been in more demand.

Thus it would be wise to respond as coaches by seeking extra training and skills in how to coach in this intercultural demand. The fact that you are reading this post now, indicates how interested you are in being part of the movement. If you are so far reading this, get in touch with me, I can help you as a coach or as a leader in your field to bring the needed training, education and diversity to the workplace.


Barosa-Pereira, Alexandra. 2014. “Building Cultural Competencies in coaching: Essay for the first steps.” Journal of Psychological issues in organizational culture 5 (2).