Coaching Panorama

By Veronika Chmelár • April 2006

Coaching, which is a kind of regular training, preparation with the purpose of achieving certain goals, is performed in many different ways in the corporate sector. Since there is no uniquely accepted definition of coaching, coaches (trainers) do it not based on the phylosophy or methodology of a certain school, but mostly based on their own perspective and approach. Of course, since there is no widely accepted definition of it, many approaches can be considered coaching.

    To describe the state of the “coaching industry”, the authors of a book used (at a few USA universities) as basis for high level education of executive coaches use the term “chaotic”, moreover, the Harvard Business School uses the term “wild west” (

    The issue December 2002 of The Economist notes an approximate 40% growth yearly of executive coaching. The July 2002 issue of the Harvard Business School Journal mentions 10,000 coaches who operate in the corporate sector; in the opinion of the author their number will exceed 50,000 by 2007.

    The incredible popularity of coaching is due to its outstanding effectiveness. According to a survey done by USA-based MetrixGlobal LLC (, a professional firm specialising in performance measurements, executive coaching brought about a Return On Investment of 529% to the company, who hired MetrixGlobal to carry out the survey.

    In Hungary, under the umbrella of the term coaching, many approaches – which include consulting, organisational development and different trends of psychoterapy among others – are offered to the buyers on the local market, who do not yet have much information on this subject but may have already heard about this investment in human resources, which became very trendy on both sides of the Atlantic.

    So what is the difference between coaching and other trends of human development? To answer at least partly this question and to gain clarity about coaching, in this study I give the definitions – that I have received from well respected and successful professionals – of the different development methods. I have also included an interview done with a psychotherapist who became a coach, therefore she explains in a very easy-to-understand way the difference between the two approaches. Another interview with a Hungarian professional coach, who had obtained his diploma in coaching from The Coaching Academy, UK, in 2005, briefly describes the definition of coaching that this coach training organisation uses and also highlights the methodology of the training he took. In the study you can also learn about the methods used by one of the most successful sports coaches, Dénes Kemény, Ph.D. who is the coach of the 2004 Olympic gold winner Hungarian water polo team. I also give the ICF (International Coach Federation, USA) definition of coaching, finally I also describe my own approach of coaching, the value of which has been proven many times in the past five years.

In this study, I offer the definitions of the following methods of human development: What is Coaching? What is Consulting? What does a Consultant do? What is Organization Development (OD)? What is Mentoring? PSYCHOTHERAPEUTIC TRENDS: What is Psychotherapy? Gestalt. TA (Transactional Analysis). Gordon. Psychodrama. NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Emotional Intelligence. Assertiveness. Supervision.

    Based on my own approach of coaching I investigate the following: What is Coaching? 1. Who have “discovered” coaching? 2. Coaching types – business coaching; 3. Coaching is not consulting; 4. The language of coaching; 5. Coaches in the corporate sector, abroad and in Hungary. 6. Competitive spirit, performance motivation in Hungary.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a special way of thinking, it is a perspective, which develops and brings problem solving skills to a higher level, thus enhancing the performance of the coachee (the trainee). The coach does not give advice, but through the individual interaction helps the coachee discover those hidden inner resources, which become the key to change and lead the coachee to his own best solutions.

    Coaching focuses on the possibilities of the future, not on the mistakes of the past. It considers the facts of the present and builds on that, to achieve the chosen goals. Its major question is this: HOW?

Based on Coaching for Performance, by John Whitmore (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, 1999,

What is Advising?

Management advising is an activity carried out by independent professionals, who have no interest in the decisions, that management of the client organization would take. In general, it includes discovery and analysis of problems and opportunities, development of recommendations and the joint implementation of these, with the client.

VTMSZ – Vezetési Tanácsadók Magyarországi Szövetsége (Association of Management Consultants in Hungary)

What does an Adviser do?

Management advising is a service offered by independent professionals. It helps the client identify, analyse and solve the problems related to the principles, to the organisation, to the processes and methods, which arose in their company.

    The adviser offers an action plan, which corresponds to the situation of the client and helps in implementing this plan. Management advising services have been used by thousands of organizations both in the public and private sector, in the developed as well as in the developing countries.

    Advising brings value to the client organisation either alone, in itself, or in combination with trainings, studies, technical plans and other professional services.

AAM Vezetõi Informatikai Tanácsadó Rt. (2005)

What is Organization Development (OD)?

Organization Development, which is an approach based on models of behavioral science, has the purpose to bring about lasting organizational changes, while improving the organization’s problem-solving, adaptation and learning capability.

    Therefore, in this sense, Organization Development relates to those efforts, which have their goal to improve the long-term success of the organization, while strongly considering the knowledge and motivation of the people working in the organization. Sometimes, – in order to differentiate from OD approaches, which rely on other principles – OD is named behavioral science organization development.

András Gelei

Ph.D. University Associate Professor at BCE, OD Adviser at OD Partner Kft.

Ph.D., egyetemi adjunktus, BCE Vezetéstudományi Intézet, Szervezeti Magatartás Tanszék; szervezetfejlesztési tanácsadó, OD Partner Kft.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring has two purposes. First, to help the assimilation and development process, through the coordination of organizational requirements and objectives with the objectives and interests of the individual. Second, the conscious succession-planning, by transferring critical knowledge and experience accumulated at higher levels.

    It plays a critical role in the organizational and professional socialisation process. It helps the mentee acquire the knowledge, skills and other attributes, which make it possible for him to become a valuable member for the society and the organization...

    An experienced manager or professional is called mentor, if he provides guidance and support to a new hire or a young manager and beyond the professional development he also helps in the mentee’s personal development.

    A mentor is usually someone, who is older than the mentee with ten or even twenty years. He is recognised as a successful, valuable member of the organization. He knows well the culture, structure and processes of the organization. He has outstanding professional experience, with great informal power through their internal network. He knows very well, how and when to approach someone, which assistant likes chocolate and which boss becomes upset, when a colleague asks him about how successful he had been during the week-ends’ fishing trip. His commitment towards the organization is unquestionable.

Szatmáriné dr. Balogh Mária

Professional Psychologist, Director of Convictus Partnership

szakpszichológus, a Convictus Szervezetfejlesztõ és Vezetõképzõ Bt. ügyvezetõje

Munkaügyi Szemle, 2001. november

Psychotherapeutic trends

What is Psychotherapy?

By psychotherapy we mean those kinds of healing interventions,

–  The objectives of which is to achieve lasting changes in personality, perception of experiences and/or behaviour;

–  The primary means of which is direct personal communication, through the effect that it has on the psyche;

–  Which occur regularly between two or more people, in a closed psychological space, based on an agreement of a therapeutic relationship;

–  That is scientifically planned, based on individual diagnosis, and the process of which is not random, but the events of the process are traceables.

Norbert Iván, M.D.

Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist (2005)


The Gestalt approach builds on the fact, that different people experience different things and will have different memories about the same event. As we build our own “reality”, through the information available through our senses and also, through the lenses of our past experience, the “same” reality will always be different to different people. My own subjective perception of an event either empowers or limits me in my efforts to exist and operate successfully in the environment, which I can only change very little. The value of the Gestalt approach is that it helps the client recognize the characteristics, attributes, opportunities and limitations of his own subjective reality, hence the client is able to better manage his relationship with the environment.

    Gestalt is a system-based approach. It doesn’t try to “correct” clients to perfection, only to the extent, that it helps a better functioning within the system.

    It can be used especially well in situations, when some members of the organizations want changes, while others keep the old values. It offers not a very fast, but in the long term efficient way of directing changes within the organization.

Ilona Erõs

ARK Anima-Ráció Konzultánsok Kft.

TA (Transactional Analysis)

Transactional Analysis is personality-, development-, communication- and systematic psychotherapeutic theory, which deals with the development of the personality and with personal change. It is based on the assumption, that people hold values, they have skills and opportunities, through which they find a role in the world, that people are responsible for their decisions concerning themselves, others and the world; but at the same time, these decisions can be changed. The basis for an individual’s development is autonomy, the components of which are awareness, spontaneity and capability for intimacy. The two fundamental principles therefore, of the TA practice are the contract-based method and the open communication. The four areas of application of TA are: therapy, advice, organization development and education-teaching. TA concepts offer a framework of definitions for an individual in situations, which represent challenges, blockages and they offer a possibility for change.

Zsuzsanna Józsa

Associate Professor

President of HATA (Hungarian Association of TA)


In 1963, American psychologist Thomas Gordon started teaching the communication model that he had developed and which today is named after him. His ideas originated from the therapheutic principles of his tutor, Carl Rogers, who facilitated others’ personal development through his active listening called “understanding attention”. Gordon had attached to this procedure of reflection through mirroring his method, which has made self-expression become symmetric, which is natural, because in our everyday’s relationships both sides may have “problems” with the other (which is not characteristic of a therapeutic relationship). The essence of the model is, that instead of utilizing a judging-evaluating kind of labeling and instructions, in my conflicts I express my own needs and feelings and, through my ability to understand while listening, I also help my communication partner do the same. Participants of Gordon trainings do not learn communication recipes, but they acquire a new perspective. Instead of offering solutions, from now on the participant of a Gordon training will talk about his own needs and will strive for a win-win relationship.

    The application of this model makes it possible for us to always take into account the needs of the other person and also to get the same for ourselves. This way, self-esteem of neither party is damaged, the relationship is built on trust, self-knowledge and credible manifestations gain encouragement. Not only their children and other, intimately close communication partners will learn these from someone, who consciously applies the Gordon model, but also their co-workers and other contacts. This is the democratic model of relationships, which does not give advantage to any of the parties for the enforcement of their needs, but it encourages us to find a solution, which is free from defeat and to achieve what we want through credible manifestations.

Zsuzsa F. Várkonyi, M.D.

Professional Leader, Psychologist, Consultant

Gordon & T.A. Oktatásszervezõ és Tanácsadó Kft.


Psychodrama is a personal development or group-psychotherapeutic method, the fundamental idea of which is that group members re-play their significant life situations, in order to allow for a successful re-assesment of that situation. The method gives a chance to the player to live the role of another player in that situation, even if only for a short period of time, which allows for acknowledgement and understanding of the perspectives of the other player. This results in a better, empathical understanding of those who played a role in that situation.

    The method also gives room for trying out new solutions, which were not found in the original situation and which can be re-used in similar, future situations.

Dr. Márta Fülöp Ph.D. CSc.

Senior Research Fellow, Head of Cultural Comparative Psychology Group, Institute for Psychology Hungarian Academy Of Sciences,

Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Psychology and Education

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)

NLP deals with the structure of subjective human experience; it deals with how we organise what we hear, what we feel, and how we absorb and filter the external world through our organ of senses. It also researches how is this described in our language and how we take action deliberately or unconsciously to obtain a certain result. Its meaning

–  Neuro: [...] every behaviour is rooted in [...] the neurological processes of perception. We experience the world around us through our five organ of senses; we attach meaning to the information, then we take action based on that. The functioning of our nervous system includes not only the invisible thinking processes, but also the visible physiological reactions to the thoughts and events. The latter simply mirrors the previous. Body and spirit together make up the undividable entity, the human being.

–  Linguistic: [...] we use language to structure our thoughts and behaviour and to communicate with others.

–  Programming: it refers to the methods that we use to organise our thoughts and actions to reach our goals.

Joseph O’Connor & John Seymour: NLP

Publisher: Bioenergetic Kft., 1996.

Emotional Intelligence

The five major areas of its definition:

1. Awareness of emotions,

2. Dealing with emotions,

3. Self-motivation,

4. Awareness of other people’s emotions (empathy),

5. Relationship management.

Daniel Golemann: Emotional Intelligence

Háttér Kiadó, 1997

Emotional intelligence is a complex skill: first, it means a realistic awareness of ourselves, of our emotional life, the skill of self-direction and self-motivation. Second, it refers to how efficient and successful we are in the management and development of our relationships. Our empathical skill also plays a significant role in this. With this skill we can be more successful in our everday’s life as well as in our professional life. [...]

    Emotional intelligence [...] means the fast, spontaneous absorbtion of the information that we obtain on a daily basis, without thinking too long about it. There are two major categories of information that we have to absorb: intrapersonal (which occurs within the individual) and interpersonal (which occurs through the interaction between different individuals) information.

    The five measurable areas of emotional intelligence are: self-awareness, which is about how well we know ourselves, our life, especially our emotions; self-directing, which is about how we keep control on our emotions and moods; self-motivation, which is about the tenacity, perseverence and diligence of the individual (how well an individual is able to motivate himself to action). These first three dimensions therefore relate to the personality of the individual. The last two dimensions though relate to our relationships with other people: one is empathy, which is the ability to put ourselves in another person’s place and emotions, and the other one is relationship building and management, which is the skill of creating and maintaining relationships in such a way, that we get satisfaction and happiness from those.


One important aspect of the assertive behaviour is that in case of conflict we are able to reconcile our interests. [...] We got so used to believe that there are only two kinds of positions: that of the power and that of the defencelessness, that we forget that there is a way in the middle. The effort to win consumes us so much, that it makes it impossible to develop a behaviour which shows equal respect towards others’ as well as our own feelings, needs and rights. But the principle of equality is one of the most important attributes of a balanced, constructive, in other words assertive behaviour. An assertive person respects himself as well as other people in his environment. He acknowledges [...] his own strengths and weaknesses and this way he becomes much more empathical towards others. He doesn’t need to disparage, disdain others in order to feel secure in himself. He doesn’t believe that others are responsible for what happens to him. He acknowledges, that he is responsible for his actions, choices and life. He doesn’t need to blame others or to generate remorse in people, because his needs are not acknowledged. He knows what he needs and he represents his own interests. [...] He is aware of his own values and he doesn’t depend on the judgement of his environment. [...] He approaches others in a honest way and he trusts his own intuition and insights.

Anne Dickson: A Woman in Your Own Right Assertiveness and You

(Quartet Books Ltd, London, 1982 – from Hungarian translation, which was translated by Éva Zentai)


Supervision is a special kind of personal development method, which is used primarily to help people who work in the helping professions, including professionals who do personal care. Supervision helps their

–  Caring of vocation,

–  Own mental health,

–  Professional development and

–  Quality assurance of their work.

Magyar Szupervizorok Társasága (nyitólap)

Supervision means helping those who help. It offers help to all professionals, who help other people’s development and recovery through personal contact: educators, social workers, people in health care, leaders, organization development consultants, etc.

    Supervision is the tool of professional learning: it enlarges and deepens professional knowledge through reflection and absorbtion of own experiences. On the other hand, it helps protect the mental health of those professionals, who have to deal with considerable psychological pressure.

    Supervisors utilize a variety of methodologies, but their main method is the dialogue, which is carried out either individually or in a group setting, always as a long-term process, i.e. as a series of 15 to 30 hours sessions.

Iván Török


Association of Hungarian Supervisors

Coaching or Therapy?

In the following interview Katherine Smith – who switched over to the solution-focused coaching after fifteen years’ practice of psychotherapy – explains the difference between therapy and coaching in easy to understand terms.

    – As a therapist, I’ve been looking for further ways of professional development. I wanted to do something, which would allow me to utilize and further develop my previous experience and also to learn something new. I took a course on solution-focused coaching, where I received a “brand new eyeglass”, through which at the beginning it was a kind of hazy to look through. I could not believe, that in coaching – in fraction of time compared to therapy – people can change their lives without uncovering, knowning and analysing the causes and how much more effective, successful and happy they become. It was difficult for me to let go of the psychoanalytical methods, in which I gained so much and so valuable experience and I was even counter-motivated because in my earlier practice all my patients recovered.

    One characteristic of psychoanalytical therapy is the so-called “cause therapy”, where we do not primarily deal with the symptom with which the patient comes to us, but together we try to uncover the causes of the problem and its present manifestation, the symptom. Often we find out that there may be several causes, which showed up at different times. The previously unsolved, unabsorbed problems at the time of certain events may even integrate in the subconscious with those occuring through the present event. Uncovering and clarifying these leads to understanding the causes and their significance in the current problem. A typical cause-and-effect relationship is, when, for example a woman has alcoholic, aggressive and abusive husband in every of her series of marriages. Through therapy it comes to the surface that every time it was her choice to choose those men, through which she follows the pattern of her family, from childhood. It doesn’t matter that her alcoholic, aggressive and abusive father caused her so much suffering, to her, he is the model to be chosen. Once she understands that these things do not simply happen to her, but she is – even though with respect to the base motive often unconsciously – actively playing a role in these events, it becomes easier to take responsibility for her own life. Creating a higher level of awareness does not automatically means the automatic change of previous states, but without these insights there is no chance for any kind of change. The success of a patient in changing towards something better depends in large measure on the support of the patient’s environment.

    I have used coaching during a therapeutic process only once: a former patient of mine, who had been previously visiting me regularly with a serious – and not even entirely curable – problem, called me in sobbing that she was in trouble. We’ve met, and since in the previous years I have been working almost exclusively with the solution-focused coaching, I should have switched back my thinking to therapy. I was listening to her story and should have asked “therapeutic” questions, like when did the problem come up, how did it start, what could be the cause of it, but these didn’t seem as important as they did previously, while I was working in therapy-mode. I rather wanted to understand what was her current situation and how did the problem influence their life in the present. After a short period of hesitation I have decided to focus my patient – who came to me very agitated and worried – to the potential solutions. And then, what happened, really stunned me: with incredible creativity, my patient generated several future-oriented, ready-to-be-implemented solutions. She left calm and smiling and had not return ever since. So one coaching session was enough for what would have taken a longer series of therapy sessions, which even, if had had provided patients with an understanding of the root causes of their emotional problems, or with a new perspective on their own lifes, did not necessarily guarantee that they would change anything in their lives.

    Psychoanalysis teaches that one can not move forward without an understanding of the causes. Discussing the solution is not purpose of the session, because the solution would crystallise itself gradually, day by day.

    – Why does psychoanalysis say, that you do not need to find the solution?

    – It doesn’t say that you do not need to find the solution. The main assumption is, that analysis of the problem, of the events, breaking these down into detailed pieces and steps to get to an understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships provides the way to change. The result is what we call synthesis, which could lead to change.

    The most important aspect of the solution-focused approach is that the patient shall have a very strong and detailed vision of his own life, when the problem will have been solved. In order to reach this vision, he gathers resources and while “staying on the groud”, we investigate together, what kind of steps, behaviours and actions – which are different from those applied in the present – would lead to the manifestation of this vision.

    In coaching, problems can be solved much more effectively, faster and more successfully than when we investigate the causes in the past.

    The solution-focused approach is diametrically opposed to psychoanalysis. The difference between the two approaches are like fire and water...

Veronika Chmelár

April 15, 2002

The Coaching Academy, UK

Tamás Boér executive coach, 36 years old, his original background is Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he has worked at different companies and just before he took a huge leap, he had been project leader with General Electric. Different books, seminars, conversations and his desire to create a more fulfilling life led him to choose work, through which he could live from the inside-out. He discovered coaching, as a means of achieving his life vision, so he successfully joined The Coaching Academy’s (UK) coach training programme, where he had obtained his diploma in coaching in March 2005. In this interview he tells us about his studies and about the coaching approach, which is most widely used in the UK.

    – What is Coaching?

    – So far, neither the international, nor the European coaching associations could unanimously define coaching. My understanding of coaching has developed through several sources: primarily, through my studies in the UK, but also via further reading and my values. I like very much the definition Myles Downey uses in his book Effective Coaching, which says that coaching is the art of (scientifical) facilitating the performance, learning and development of another. It is left and right brain, at the same time. In my opinion, anything, that can be tool, method, process and solution for someone in order to achieve higher performance, can enter this definition. The Coaching Academy though emphasizes, that coaching is not consulting, mentoring or therapy.

    Coaching, or the development of human performance is a set of perspectives/methods; it is an approach to life, to people, according to which people are powerful, incredibly creative and resourceful by their very nature, therefore they have the ability to find solutions and take actions to achieve what they want. The glass half full of water is a good example. Those, who consider the glass half full are considered optimists, while those who see it half empty, are considered pessimists. In coaching, this dilemma is replaced by this question: how shall we fill the glass completely? The job is to find this answer and also to create the belief, that we can do this, even if nobody has ever succeeded before in this endeavour. We must maintain an attitude and belief that we are always capable of bringing more out of ourselves.

    My mission is to help clients achieve outstanding results with ease and elegance. Our internal resources – creativity, intuition, rational thinking, the ability to focus, to see the essence of every situation, etc. – are mobilised at the highest level, when we are motivated from whithin and when we act calmly according to clear goals, with the purpose to enjoy ourselves in the process. This is what I call ease and elegance. This is the state of mind when you get the best ideas and insights, from whitin; your brain operates at its full potential and it helps us notice coherence, which can only be noticed in this state of “active relaxation”. Timothy Gallwey (who is considered the author of the first book of coaching – the author of the interview) in his book The Inner Game of Tennis states, that everything happens first in our mind, in other words, “the opponent within one’s own head is more formidable than the one the other side of the net”. Therefore, he defines peformance as potential minus interference. The purpose of coaching is to overcome this interference (our inner obstacles). Chinese philosopher Lao Ce puts it this way: those who defeat others are brave; those who overcome themselves are heroes. The job of the coach is to help his clients raise their performance through finding and overcoming their interferences.

    – What does the curriculum look like at The Coaching Academy, UK?

    – It is a distance-learning course, majority of students learn while doing their regular jobs. Actually, there is no strictly defined school year, the fastest one could potentially complete the course was said to be six months, however, most people completed the course in about 18 months. It is mandatory to complete the following:

    –  Two long, residential week-ends in the UK, where besides participating in lectures, presentations and seminars with the help of professional and very experienced coaches we have the opportunity to practice and also to receive coaching from each other,

    –  Active listening as outside observer and discussion about twenty-four coaching sessions, which happen through the telephone,

    –  Forty-eight teleseminars (about coaching frameworks, tools and methods, NLP or marketing), followed by a Questions&Answers session, which further enhances our knowledge,

    –  Thirty-six telephone coaching sessions, one hour each, with three participants: twelve times I was the coach and at the end of the session I got feedback from the outside observer a fellow student of mine; for twelve sessions I was the client, and another twelve sessions where I was the outside observer and I gave feedback to my fellow coach student.

    We also had to submit three written assignments, the subjects of which were partially defined by the Academy. I wrote the largest of these assignments with the subject of coaching at the workplace.

    There was also the possibility to sign up (and separately pay) for a separate course as a specialised area, I did sign up and completed the course titled Corporate Coaching MasterClass.

    – What did the Academy teach, what method to choose to deliver a coaching session?

    – The biggest emphasis was given to the GROW model (its description can be found in Coaching for Performance, by John Whitmore, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, 1999, – the author), furthermore we have had intensive NLP (meaning is: Neuro-Linguistic Programming) seminars, and besides other approaches we were presented with the basics of Transactional Analysis (TA) too.

    Besides the coach training, we were given important information and advice on marketing, which has proven very beneficial to me, because I have had no marketing experience. An often-recurring subject of the learn-by-doing coaching sessions was how to deal with our own interferences while building the coaching business, which was exactly what we would give to our clients. In this regards, the trio-coaching sessions were especially useful.

    – What literature did you use during your studies?

    – I have read primarily the books that were suggested by the Academy, but I have found further and very interesting books, while doing research on the Internet. Two of the most important books are Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore and Effective Coaching by Myles Downey. I would also mention Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart: A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges, by Mary-Beth_O’Neill and The Complete Guide to Coaching at Work, plus The Coaching Toolkit at Work, by Susanne Skiffington and Perry Zeus (from Australia). There is also a collection of essays on Coaching for Leadership – How the World’s Greatest Coaches Help Leaders Learn, by editors Marshall Goldsmith, Laurence Lyons and Alyssa Freas.

    You can find information about any of the above-mentioned books at

    – How much did the one-year program cost?

    – The general program cost £ 2,500 , and I have paid £ 1,300 for the Corporate Coach MasterClass. Plus the cost of the flights, accomodation and phone calls. Fortunately, thanks to the low fares of discount carriers and low IP telephony rates, collateral costs can be significantly reduced.

    – How can someone apply to a course of The Coaching Academy?

    – You can get all information through the web-site of the Academy, at

Veronika Chmelár

August 25, 2005

To contact Tamás Boér, write an e-mail to: ?subject=Business Coaching">, or call (+36-30) 9999-231.

Since fall 2005, The Coaching Academy offers a FREE Certificate of Coaching, through their week-end long residential course.

The Secret of their Unbroken Success: Teamwork

Since 1997, Mr. Dénes Kemény, Ph.D. has been the coach of the Hungarian men’s water polo team. In the past nine years they have won medals 17 times out of 18 world competitions; 9 of these were gold medals. They have been Olympic champions in 2000 and in 2004, world champions in 2003, in 1999 World Cup, then in 2003 and 2004 World League Champions, in 1997 and 1999 European Champions, and once they came to the first place of the European League.

The 51-year old supercoach started water polo at age of six, by following the example of his father, who had been playing in the first class. He always played in National Championship first class teams: in Hungary, at BVSC, Tatabánya, Spartacus and FTC, abroad in Australia and Italy. The junior European Champion title was followed by his selection into the national team thirty times. In Australia he was member of the champion team, in Italy, during the five years spent with Como, he had been national top scorer several times. At the same time, he had been coaching Italian junior teams, then from 1992, moving completely into the role of the coach, had been the coach of the senior Como team.

    Even while being a water polo player, he had time to study and to work. He has obtained his diploma of veterinary doctor in 1978 (as he had emphasized, through exams and not by paying for it) and until end of 1996 he had been also working as such. In those times it was enough to train twice a day, each time one hour and a half, but in order to achieve today’s peak performance, this has increased to two times three hours per day.

    – We cannot afford to train less than our competitors do, if we want to be prepared as well as they are, or even better – says Mr. Kemény – We can only be better then our rivals, if we are able to do all that they are able too, plus if we have some strengths that they do not possess.

    – What is your primary goal?

    – We want to be the best, both in the short- and in the long term. Our permanent strategic goal is to win the Olympics. The intermediary stations – like the European Championship, which will take place next year – can be considered as continuous preparation, but we must also win at these, because this is the only chance to also win the Olympics.

    – As coach, what is your motivation?

    – Basically, I am always motivated by the successful accomplishment of the next challenge. A long series of wins though results in a certain kind of torpidity. When we lose no match for a long time and we only win gold medals for years, our focus inevitably decreases. Losing a match from time to time always gives us a boost and it is a warning sign, that we may not let ourselves down. Fortunately, the team is very strong, Hungarian water polo has a very high standard, therefore we have less lows and longer highs. We always prepare even better for the upcoming challenge. If our competitors reach the level we were at during our previous match, then we arrive even better prepared for the next match. We can learn the most from losing a match, however we also used to analyse and investigate the mistakes committed during matches that we won, because committing them again would lead to losing the next match.

    – How do you choose the players?

    – Besides looking for a good match to professional criteria, I select for positions. Only those can make to the national team, who are courageous, can take responsibility even in critical situations, who handle well the pressure of the decisions and who are capable of subordinating their individual succes to the successfulness of the whole team.

    – What is your thinking about your job as a coach?

    – Players openly compete with each other in order to be selected into the national team and for being kept on the team. When the team is ready, it is the job of the coach, to bring the maximum out of the individual and team capabilities.

    – What do you think, why are you so successful?

    – I am lucky, that in the past nine years I could work with very capable players, who possess outstanding professional knowledge and who bring the right mental and attitude in terms of the most important criteria. The level of organization of the Hungarian water polo is high, there is an outstanding pool of players and brilliant players show up continuously, and they make it easy for me to select the right individuals. It would be hypocritical of me to say that I have nothing to do with the successes that we have achieved; I believe I was also able to find in myself those important capabilities, with which I could bring the physical and tactical preparedness of the team to the competitive level of any other team. And we are likely better than our opponents in terms of team cohesion and capability to win.

    – Do you consider yourself an authentic person?

    – In sports, you are rated according to results, both in the positive and in the negative sense. Let the reader decide whether based on the achievements of the past nine years they consider the Hungarian men’s water polo national team and its captain, in other words me, authentic or not.

Veronika Chmelár

October 3, 2005

Coaching – Definition of the International Coach Federation, USA

Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

    Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

My own Coaching Approach

Coaching is a special way of thinking, it is a perspective, which develops and brings problem solving skills to a higher level, thus enhancing the performance of the coachee (the trainee). The coach does not give advice, but in a coaching co-operation the coachee discovers those hidden inner resources, which become the key to change and lead the coachee to his own best solutions.

    Coaching focuses on the possibilities of the future, not on the mistakes of the past. It considers the facts of the present and builds on that, to achieve the chosen goals. Its major question is this: HOW?

1. Who Are the Inventors of Coaching?

Tennis professional Timothy Gallwey, in his book The Inner Game of Tennis – written in the early seventies’ – states, that everything happens first in our mind, in other words, “the opponent within one’s own head is more formidable than the one the other side of the net”. He believes, that if a coach helps his coachee overcome his internal obstacles, which are hindering performance, certain natural capabilities would come forth, which would lead to increased performance. In this approach the technical instructions of the coach are of secondary importance. Therefore he defined the goal of coaching as the elimination of internal obstacles. While he was giving lectures and seminars across the USA on his performance-improving approach, in the UK John Whitmore – student of Gallwey – was developing further this philosophy, first in different sports, then in business. The results were beyond expectations. (John Whitmore himself had been a successful athlete in the sixties.)

Based on Coaching for Performance, by John Whitmore (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, 1999,

2. Types of Coaching – Business Coaching

In the many kinds of literature, many types of coaching are mentioned, I will list a few of them. I will put more emphasis though on business coaching, because it may require knowledge about and practical application of all other types of coachings.

    There is life coaching, career coaching, promotion coaching (for newly promoted leaders), relationship coaching, coaching with the purpose to achieve certain change of behaviour, presentation/communication coaching, performance coaching, individual and group coaching, self coaching, business coaching, etc.

    Business coaching prepares business leaders for achievement of objectives. Making the coachee (the person participating in the training) conscious of (i.e. clarifying) his/her assigned tasks and role gives everyone in an organization the appropriate degree of independence to make decisions and the responsibility that is involved with doing so.

    By building awareness through coaching, the coachee becomes capable of solving his problems at an even higher level of quality, of making good decisions, taking action and taking responsibility for his own actions, therefore of creating even more value and becoming even more successful.

    Within the teams built and led through a coaching way of management, everyone knows exactly their own tasks and responsibilities. Subordinates perform an outstanding job even without the manager being present. Therefore the manager has enough time to do his work, which allows him to stay more balanced and better serve the interestes of the organisation.

3. Coaching is not Advice

The coach (the trainer) does not give advice but brings out the best performance from the coachee. In professional sports, too, the results are achieved by the athelete, not by the coach. The job of the coach is to prepare the athlete for the achievement of his own top performance: it has the athlete find solutions until he achieves outstanding, even previously unimaginable performance. To achieve such performance, the internal motivation of the athlete, the commitment and responsibility for the results of his own decisions is a must. The most important question of coaching is “how”, it requires to have the coachee consciously think through all possibilities. A coach will always have only partial information about the conditions, possibilities and internal capability for performance of the coachee, but having the coachee deliberately think through the how’s of the many ways from start to finish, coachee gathers many information and resources which are internal to his thinking. In a consulting situation, the consultant is also responsible for the possible failure as a result of a wrong piece of advice, even if part of the responsibility lies on the requestor and executor of the advice. In coaching it is the coachee, who “delivers” the best solution. The role of the coach is to bring this out of the coachee.

    However tempting it is sometimes to show how wonderfully clever we are, in a coaching relationship it is never the coach, who will bring the best solution. This requires a high level of self-discipline and that kind of internal – highly credible – belief from the part of the coach, that the coachee is at least as creative and resourceful as the coach is and he will always know much more about his own possibilities and best solutions than anyone else.

4. The Language of Coaching

Since our brain – the most perfect computer known so far – tries to find our best answer from within, the way a coach formulates questions can seriously influence the answers the coachee will find. When we ask “What is the problem?” – as Werner Vogelauer (German) author starts his introductory sessions with his “patient” (written in his book, titled: Coaching in Practice – Proffessional Advising and Support of Leaders, published by Economic and Legal Publishing Company in Hungary, 2002) – we have launched a process to find problems. We can not talk about coaching in this case, because coaching is not looking for problems, but finding solutions. No sports coach will ask an athlete what is the problem, which motivates him to do the sport. But every outstanding sports coach knows the thrilling experience, the enjoyment (which cames from the increased levels of dopamins brought) about by the conscisously achieved performance and overcome ourself. The right question to ask then, is “what is the goal of the coachee, what does he want to achieve?”

    Coaching is neither help, nor support, but preparation for the achievement of higher performance.

    When a coach says that what he provides is “help” and names the coachee client or patient, this creates a subordination of the coachee. “Patient” is a medical term with latin origin, which even today means that we talk about someone who receives medical treatment. “Client” is used in many contexts, but in ancient Rome it meant someone with less than full rights, who was depending on his patron. When a coach wants to help, this reflects that the coachee “needs help”. Have you ever asked yourself why certain professions are called “helping” or “supporting professions”? Why does the training profession use this attribute? Trainers supply a knowledge-based service in exchange for a fair financial compensation. Or do we like to see ourselves as the rescuer of someone? Or we like to think that we are superior to someone? I have not found no literature – books, web-sites in Hungary or abroad – where the attribute “helping” did not show up.

    Let me return to the sports-origin of coaching: coach and athlete cooperate in order to achieve the best performance. There are no results without each other. The goal, the job and the enjoyment of the final success is shared by both. Since coaching is a cooperation between two equals in order to achieve a shared goal, accordingly in my coaching activity I used to mention “coaching cooperation” and “coaching partners”.

    Earlier, as a professional athlete I did not use to think of my coaches as my supporters, but rather as cooperators in a shared endeavour, which brought lots of common success and happiness. There were clearly set and achieved goals: there were no problems, only challenges to solve. The goal was always to achieve the best possible performance, which we could only achieve by preparing much better than our competitors during the training sessions.

5. Coaches in the Corporate Sector, Abroad and in Hungary

The number one performance-enhancing competency is authenticity. (“Humán tükör” survey, presentation September 18, 2004. Szeged). This is equally true for any coach. A credible coach is also performance- and problem-solving oriented, understands well the corporate context and has considerable experience, too. When untrustworthy people offer their services with great enthusiasm (e.g. a fat person gives a presentation on keeping diet) or speak about illusory convictions (e.g. an individual who is often about the explode due to anger speaks about internal peace or someone talks about happiness with sadness on his face), the potential customer has every right to doubt the credibility of the seller: how effective is the method, when the one who is offering it can not achieve the desired results through it? How could this coach bring anything out of me, when he has no clue about business, in general?

    In Australia and in the USA, most executive and business coaches have corporate leadership and management background. (Good Weekend, January 29, 2005. Australia). But where do former Hungarian business leaders come from, when for half a century there was no business life and even what we experience today, can not be named market-based economy. Many of those, who were able to survive the latest (teenage) original capital accumulation, did not achieve thanks to their business genius, or did not change to the less profitable business coaching. The business culture is still under formation, multinational companies who entered Hungary have contributed to its development immensely with their values and expectations. Hopefully, our European Union membership will further raise the level of business culture in our country. Who are then the players of the Hungarian “coaching industry”? With a few exceptions, in the past years training companies have complemented their services and under the umbrella of the term coaching offer individual consulting or some trends of psychotherapy, or different trainings or combination of training modules.

    In 2004, a PhD student of Yale University (USA) made a series of interviews with Hungarian trainers. When we met, based on the previously conducted interviews, she had noted the “over-psychologized” of the Hungarian training profession. As a business person, I did a thorough market research of the Hungarian “training industry”, before I decided to switch over to business coaching. I have spent tremendous time, money and effort – participation at different trainings, symposiums, I have conducted many individual interviews about different approaches – to know better the Hungarian “training industry”. I can confirm the remark of the Yale University PhD student. I do not wonder about that training profession is over-psychologized in Hungary. In our country, it is the norm to talk about – and look for – problems rather, than about solutions. But self-pity will not contribute to a greater performance.

6. Competitive Spirit, Performance Motivation in Hungary

The corporate sector is competition-intense; therefore it is right to use methods which result in outstanding achievements in sports. But optimal utilization of resources is requirement not only in the for-profit sector: it is a rightful demand to measure performance in all areas of life.

What is the general Hungarian attitude towards performance?

Historian András Gerõ, director of the Habsburg Institute, professor at Central European University – who delivered different lectures for five years at different universities in the USA – has illustrated our country's "complaint-culture" through several examples found in Hungarian literature, starting with the middle of the 19th century. In his opinion, the difference between the American and Hungarian performance-mentality is this: Americans have two possible answers to questions about performance: yes or no (one or zero), Hungarians have three answers: yes, no, and "I'll explain why this can't be done, and this is almost equivalent to yes, that is, as if I had accomplished the task" (interview, March 10, 2006.).

Even though I did not do scientific research in this regards, I assume that the almost half a millenium-long external, political "supervision" – with the counter-motivation "if I perform better, they will take away more from me" – did not motivate to higher performance. Therefore Hungarians may have well acquired great skills in hiding their performance and reasoning their under-achievement. I wonder if this is the root cause of what we still experience these days: that people were motivated to collectively "hide" their own and each other's values from the actual "supervising authority" and the refusal of responsibility for their own actions?

Márta Fülöp, Ph.D., CSs., psychologist, professor and scientific researcher at Institute for Psychology Hungarian Academy Of Sciences had carried out research about competitive spirit in Japan, in the USA and in Hungary. One of the findings of her studies was that Hungarians attach the most value to winning but they also attach the most negative emotions to it, the cause of which is fear of failure. In Hungary, there is no culture of objective evaluation. The loser feels himself zero (Presentation, May 9, 2005.)

It is interesting, that Hungarians have a yes or no (one or zero) answer in this regards – in contrast with the western society's objective performance evaluation, which is carried out by serious companies once a year. During the evaluation, based on feedback from colleagues the strengths, weaknesses and skills for development are determined in cooperation with the employee. Besides acknowledgement of the values of the individual, the result of the evaluation is a conscious development opportunity on the areas where the employee has room to grow. It is very important that this evaluation happens with full cooperation with the employee, he is not "labeled" behind him. The first step of the evaluation is to acknowledge the strengths, which is positive feedback on the value of his work. Since the goal and the tone of the evaluation is not to humiliate (which is usually part of the general Hungarian culture, unfortunately), following the acknowledgement of the areas for improvement, the employee has to take responsibility for his own conscious development.

Márta Fülöp in her other essay: Competition from a cultural perspective differentiates competition in function of their goals. "According to Tassi and Schneider, qualitatively it is a different process, when the one who competes focuses on the competitor (and the goal is to prove that he is superior to the opponent) then the one, when the focus is on the goal and on the task (and the goal is to be great and competent in something). According to their research, competition results in negative contemporary connections only in that case, if the main motivation is to defeat the competitor, in other words, when the goal is not to improve one's performance.".

Is it possible, that the always changing "external political supervising authorities", by trying to prove their superiority, have created negative contemporary connections? In such situation, it seems plausible that by complaining for virtually everything, Hungarians were keen to prove to the supervising authority, that they could not perform. However, since the (latest) political system change the business culture became performance-oriented – even though it does not yet operate as a true market-based economy. As a little dot in the global economy and as members of the European Union we will be evaluated based on the results we will achieve, it is hightime therefore to improve our thinking accordingly. Our standard of living will be determined by our own performance and like it or not, this happens in a strongly competitive context. Instead of complaining and looking for problems, we have to find the answer to what and how do we want to achieve. Coaching is a positive pulling force, because its goal is that we become great in something, the individual motivation being improvement of their own (respectively the team's) performance.


In Hungary, most employees want to perform better, but they often don’t know how to do that. In the majority of the cases the reason for non-satisfactory performance is lack of knowledge – ad not lack of will. By lack of knowledge I mean company-specific – and rarely professional – knowledge and information, which are a must for high performance of the job. Reason for low performance may also be lack of minimum required conditions for effective work, sometimes lack of organization. Communication is of very low quality: colleagues – while they may talk a lot – share with each other not enough – but from the point of view of the final result, important – information. Therefore there is no real chance for development of professional teamwork.

    In business coaching awareness of the solutions is brought about by the systemic thinking through the tasks. The discovery of these solutions brings enjoyment to the coachee and also responsibility for the application of these better solutions.

    Leaders are often alone with their problems; in most cases they are afraid sharing these concerns with others. They are afraid to share with their superiors because he or she may question their capability and this is also the reason for avoiding consultation with their subordinates. Moreover, in a superior-subordinate type of consulting the subordinate colleague – perhaps applying for the job of his boss – may use the information for his own selfish purposes. In a coaching partnership an independent coach has the same objective as the coachee: to achieve the best possible results.

    Not everyone needs coaching – just as not everyone needs a psychologist. There are several people who have got healthy mentality and good problem solving thinking method: they are able to think over their own situation from different aspects and make good decisions. The highest level of coaching is self-coaching; when we can ask ourselves great questions and we also have the courage to answer them very honestly even, if the answer is painful.

    A good coach is authentic: professionally he is well prepared, has a competitive spirit and is performance-oriented, his thinking is solution-focused, is highly qualified in business theories and is also very experienced. A good coach is honest (to himself, too), fair, discreet, system oriented and has good memory. (Carl Rogers, one of the greatest psychologists of the XXth century considered authenticity as the most important condition of his professional success.) A coach does a great job, when at the end of the coaching process he can leave the coachee alone: the coachee has already developed a coaching way of thinking and is capable of solving his own assignments at the highest level.

    As a former professional athlete I have learned, that I can leave the playing ground as a winner only, if I am much better prepared than my opponents. For this, I don’t need to be insidious, I don’t need to cheat my opponent off, I only need to consciously and continuously prepare, to do this extremely tough investment, the results of which will come in the long term. The basis of self-confidence is preparedness (and not compesation of some kind of lack). My competitive spirit focused on the task is a positive pulling force not only for myself but for others, too.

Thanks to my Colleagues and the Interviewees for their definitions and their time, with which they have contributed to this study.

Veronika Chmelár

Executive Coach

Managing Director

Business Coaching Ltd.

Hungary 1023 Budapest, Frankel Leó út 86.

Phone / Fax: +36-1-3260288

Mobile phone: +36-20-9612919

?subject=Business Coaching">

Translation by Tamás Boér Executive Coach, e-mail: ?subject=Business Coaching">

Bibliography / References



What is Coaching?

John Whitmore: Coaching for Performance (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, 1999 – a kiadó website-ja:

What is Advising?

VTMSZ – Vezetési Tanácsadók Magyarországi Szövetsége (Hungarian Association of Management Consultants),

What does an Adviser do?

AAM Vezetõi Informatikai Tanácsadó Rt., (2005)

What is Organization Development (OD)?

Gelei András Ph.D., egyetemi adjunktus, BCE Vezetéstudományi Intézet, Szervezeti Magatartás Tanszék; szervezetfejlesztési tanácsadó, OD Partner Kft.

What is Mentoring?

Szatmáriné dr. Balogh Mária szakpszichológus, a Convictus Szervezetfejlesztõ és Vezetõképzõ Bt. ügyvezetõje. Munkaügyi Szemle, 2001. november


What is Psychotherapy?

dr. Iván Norbert pszichiáter és pszichoterapeuta szakorvos, (2005)


Erõs Ilona, ARK Anima-Ráció Konzultánsok Kft.

TA (Transactional Analysis)

Józsa Zsuzsanna adjunktus, a HATA (Magyar Tranzakcióanalitikus Egyesület) elnöke


Dr. F. Várkonyi Zsuzsa szakmai vezetõ, pszichológus, tanácsadó, Gordon & T.A. Oktatásszervezõ és tanácsadó Kft.


Dr. Márta Fülöp Ph.D. CSc. Senior Research Fellow, Head of Cultural Comparative Psychology Group, Institute for Psychology Hungarian Academy Of Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Psychology and Education

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)

Joseph O’Connor & John Seymour: NLP (Publisher: Bioenergetic Kft., 1996)

Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Golemann: Érzelmi intelligencia (Publisher: Háttér Kiadó, 1997) és


Anne Dickson: A Woman in Your Own Right Assertiveness and You (Quartet Books Ltd, London, 1982 – from Hungarian translation, which was translated by Éva Zentai)


Magyar Szupervizorok Társasága, (nyitólap) and Török Iván, a Magyar Szupervizorok Társaságának elnöke

THE ICF (International Coach Federation, USA) DEFINITION OF COACHING


1. Who Are the Inventors of Coaching?

John Whitmore: Coaching for Performance (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, 1999,

4. The Language of Coaching

Werner Vogelauer: Coaching a gyakorlatban – Vezetõk szakszerû tanácsadása és támogatása (Közgazdasági és Jogi Könyvkiadó, 2002) and Marco Rauland: Az érzelmek kémiája (Gladiátor Kiadó, 2004)

5. Coaches in the Corporate Sector, Abroad and in Hungary

Bíró Kata – Takács Sándor – Toárniczky Andrea: Humán tükör kutatás (elõadás, 2004. szeptember 18., Szeged) és Stephen Baccon – Natalie Boog: Boss behind every great (Good Weekend, 29. January, 2005, Australia)

6. Competitive Spirit, Performance Motivation in Hungary

Gerõ András történész, a Habsburg Intézet igazgatója, a CEU egyetemi tanára (interjú, 2006. március 10.) és Dr. Fülöp Márta pszichológus, egyetemi tanár, az MTA Pszichológiai Kutatóintézetének tudományos fõmunkatársának A versenyszellemmel kapcsolatos kutatásról tartott elõadása, 2005. május 10., Budapest), továbbá A versengés kulturális tükörben címû tanulmánya

Postscript – A Good Coach is Authentic

Carl R. Rogers: Valakivé válni (Edge 2000 Kft., 2004)


Veronika Chmelar Executive Coach, Managing Director I have started result-oriented economic and business output enhancing executive coaching in Hungary with prior US experience. The following of my prior experiences have significantly contributed to the fact that I pursue it with a high-standard of competence: my professional sport background; my B. S. in Economics and M. S. in Finance; my generalist experience and perspective gained through my jobs in various industries, service sectors, man...

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