Tuesday, October 20, 2015

iJoos Mind/Getty Images

This podcast, from the awesome TED Radio Hour (NPR), has a lot to think about - especially if you are working in a place where collaboration is king, and anything else is seen as second best. The description from the site advises that "In this hour, TED speakers unravel ideas behind the mystery of mass collaborations that build a better world"; just a small goal :)

To help illustrate a variety of points of view and experiences the podcast presenter interviews TED presenters and weaves together their comments with their TED presentation. The compare and contrast format helps juxtapose some gnarly questions and ideas. Well worth listening to.

I have included from the TED Radio Hour site a selection of the sub 'chapters' in the episode, but you might just like to listen to the full show on Why we collaborate.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Meeting the costs of coaching

It was telling for me, in the article “New study sheds light on manager-coaches” (although not so new - from 2009), that those in more senior positions were more likely to use mature coaching approaches because they had the time and space to do so. This finding, for me, indicates that coaching isn’t a panacea to all business issues or a ‘quick fix’ option, although it is effective when properly resourced. As such, it was interesting that coaching was framed by many line managers, who participated in the research study, as a “burden” - a word used twice in four questions from the CIPD report.

There is also a clear indication in the report that many managers are not themselves supported to develop coaching skills prior to starting coaching work with their team members. This could, in turn, help explain why there were both primary and mature coaching approaches identified by the study. Perhaps there is also a need to differentiate between leadership and management? Not all managers are leaders, and not all leaders are managers - and maybe the more participatory  “mature coaching” approach tends to be used by managers who are also leaders?

Ultimately a business needs to really invest in coaching and to integrate it into their culture. This requirement is highlighted by the three key recommendations from the report: 1) coaching needs to be viewed as a business issue; 2) roles and expectation need to be clear; and 3) skills development, resourcing and support are essential. Perhaps this is why consistent use of coaching is “virgin territory” for “three-quarters of businesses” - the initial investment appears to be very high!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A catalyst for change? Coaching and mentoring

John Whitmore, in his article, Will coaching rise to the challenge? throws down a wero (challenge) for coaching as a profession.
He opens by describing some of the possible benefits of the economic crisis in the States (the article was written in 2009), highlighting the fact that apparent negative setbacks can be a catalyst for review and change. In particular Whitmore outlines how people can be sparked into taking opportunities to escape from the illusion of wealth, especially with support such as that provided by coaching. The process can lead to a change in attitude and viewpoint - both of which are fundamentally important in shaping outlook. Coaches can ask new questions about a person’s job, relationships and lifestyle that can help them re-assess their purpose, life, and values. As such, two primary products of coaching are a growth of a person’s awareness and responsibility, which apply to all aspects of life.
Whitmore also talks about leadership, ranging from the pragmatic (people in leadership roles are often unaware of the benefits and availability of coaching), to the conceptual (we do not need to wait around for the ‘next great leader’). Instead, he advocates for leadership from within, in part through the development of self-responsibility - something that many people need to develop. Coaches, using skills such as asking, as opposed to telling, and pulling rather than pushing, alongside rigorous frameworks and strategies for working with sustainable change, can help people develop the skills to meet and adapt to altering circumstances.
To achieve this, Whitmore asserts that coaches need to keep up to date with current affairs and global shifts - and this is where he throws down the wero - can coaching change? It has already made a move from a one-to-one coaching to working with large groups and institutional change. Can it become more global so that it can impact humanity as a whole? To do this would require a change of focus from individual to collective responsibility, as well as an acceptance that, if a coach’s ideals are more inclusive than the person who they are coaching, then their values need to precedence.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, although I had to think long and hard about the notion of the coach’s ideals taking the forefront. The more I mull it over, however, it makes sense. As a mentor working in a group of mentors, we have often discussed how we work with mentees whose ideals differ fundamentally to ours to the point that they are not comfortable on any level. In particular some of the unquestioned biases that a mentee may have. We talked about the skill of asking questions that help a person hold up a mirror to themselves seeming to be essential, as well as carefully asking the difficult questions. There was also agreement. however, that if a mentee’s views were derogatory and extremely biased we would clearly state disagreement. It’s a tricky space to work in, but as Whitmore says, coaching (and I would also add mentoring) has “the means to construct exactly what is most needed all over at this time, the individual and collective responsibility essential for the survival of life as we know it” (Whitmore, 2009, p. 3). Would be great to read what you think.


Whitmore, J. (2009). Will coaching rise to the challenge? The OCM Coach and Mentor Journal 2009, pp 2-3.