State of play in African coaching

A comparison of coaching practices in Africa and Europe.

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) commissioned research in 2016 to deepen understanding of coaching and mentoring and to widen engagement with coaching and mentoring across Europe. The research was sponsored by The Henley Centre for Coaching and undertaken by Jonathan Passmore and Hazel Brown in 2017. The survey was available in 31 languages and 2,791 responses were analysed. The Executive Report can be downloaded from this link.

In 2018, the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) commissioned a similar study, in association with Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA) and The Henley Centre of Coaching. The research was undertaken in 2019 by Nicky Terblanche, Jacques Myburgh and Jonathan Passmore. The survey was based on the original survey of the European study, excluding the mentoring dimensions. 349 responses were analysed from 19 African countries. The Executive Report can be downloaded from

In both studies, more than 60% of respondents are female. 90% of coaches are between the ages of 30 and 64. Association with a professional body seems to be important for coaches in Africa; only 17% do not belong to any coaching body. Just over 50% of the respondents are members of COMENSA and about 40% of the ICF (note that almost 25% of respondents indicated that they are member of more than one organisation).

66% of the African coaches have less than eight years of coaching experience. Coaches report that they spend just under 40% of their time on coaching, with the rest taken up by day-to-day management (26%), training (14%) and consulting (10%). The remainder of the time includes writing and researching, coach training, and therapy and counselling. The focus of most of the coaching time is coaching clients to help them at work, followed by lifestyle issues.

Corporate coaching rates (Diagram 1) are evenly distributed between R500/hr and R3000/hr. About 6% of coaches charge less than R500/hr and the remaining more than R3000/hr. Coaching rates for individuals are mostly between R500/hr and R1000/hr.

State of play in African coaching

Reflective practice is an established form of learning and involves examining one’s actions, beliefs and assumptions in order to learn and change. Coaching training typically instils in coaches the need to reflect on their practice on an on-going basis. Almost 30% of respondents use formal supervision with a qualified supervisor as a method for reflection and just over 30% use peer group supervision as a method for reflection as well. Most coaches use self-reflection, reading coaching books and research.

CPD activities includes mostly reading of books/research material, participation in webinars and similar networking events and attending short courses. The majority of coaches spend under 30 hrs per annum on CPD activities, similar to their European counterparts.

Coaches evaluate the outcome of coaching, although much of this still occurs informally and only verbally at the end of a session or a coaching assignment. About 50% of the coaches evaluate the impact of the coaching at the end of every coaching assignment with a formal evaluation form.

Contracting is an important part of a coaching intervention as it sets out the rules of engagement and helps to manage expectations. Almost all respondents contract either verbally or written with the client and/or the sponsor of the coaching. African coaches seem to prefer verbal agreements as opposed to European coaches preferring written agreements.

Coaches in general seem to be very aware of the role ethics play in coaching, with more than 75% always sharing their ethical codes with clients. Coaches were also asked what should happen to a coach in a number of problematic ethical situations.

If they are found to pay a fee to secure a coaching contract, about 28% would be happy with just a warning by the professional body. Almost 3% see nothing wrong with paying a fee for a contract. The majority of African coaches are very strict in their opinions and would prefer the coach to be removed from the register of their professional body, either temporarily or permanently. African coaches are much stricter compared to their European counterparts, of which 12% saw nothing wrong with paying a fee for a contract.

When it comes to sexual relationships with clients during coaching assignments, African coaches are also stricter with themselves than European coaches. Only about 22% of African coaches think coaches should come off lightly through either no consequences or just a warning from their professional body, versus 35% of European coaches. More than 50% of African coaches think an offending coach should be permanently removed from their professional body compared to 36% of European coaches.

This view changes drastically when asked about entering into a sexual relationship one month after the coaching assignment has ended. Just over 50% of coaches see nothing wrong with this with the other 50% against it. For European coaches, up to 65% see nothing wrong with this situation.

For commissioners of coaching in Africa (typically HR professionals), the professional qualification of the coach is the most important consideration (37%) followed by the experience of the coach (30%). This is in contrast to European commissioners who look at the experience of the coach (50%) more than their qualifications (23%). Price in both Africa and Europe is not the most important criterion.

State of play in African coaching

This article was written for COMENSA by Dr Nicky Terblanche, Senior Lecturer and Head of Coaching at University of Stellenbosch Business School, Jacques Myburgh, Chair of the Research Committee at COMENSA and Prof Jonathan Passmore, Professor of Coaching and Behavioural Change and Director of the Henley Centre for Coaching. COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), is a SAQA-recognised professional body for coaching and mentoring in South Africa. For more information on coaching and mentoring, contact COMENSA’s central office on 021 035 1777 or email


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