OPINION Technology has fuelled self-expression, and led to a demand for autonomy in the workplace. Internal coaches must find ways to engage with this new breed By Sara Hope During International Coaching Week on 18-24 May, I was part of some stimulating and challenging conversations about the future of coaching in organisations. What became apparent was that unless we continue to evolve our practice, we will not be fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world. I spoke at the UK ICF event – Inspiring Coaching: The Next 20 Years on 19 May about how internal coaching needs to adapt […]


Maren Donata Urschel While we are busy teaching our children how to grow, they are quietly reminding us how to live and work When I was pregnant with our first child, Aaron, I took a year’s break from my CPD. I assumed I would not get round to it. Little did I know that I had signed up for a series of master classes held by my son. They would have a deep impact on my work. Here are a few insights from the past 18 months: Failure and repetition are integral to learning When Aaron wanted to feed himself […]

Viewpoint: accounting for taste

Camilla Arnold Are you a Marmite or a Martini coach? Classic TV advertising can help clients find their perfect match The power of a great advertisement is that it stays with you and becomes synonymous with the brand itself. There are two adverts – one old and one more recent – that seem particularly apt to me in the context of the current coaching market. In the 1980s, Martini had the advertising strapline, “Any time, any place, anywhere” – the drink that could be enjoyed by anyone in any situation. More recently, Marmite took a diametrically opposed position and launched […]


Creative Studies Clare Elstow Academic research demands serious study, but you can still take a creative approach to reflective learning If you’re a coach with extensive business experience, and an interest – but not necessarily any formal training – in psychology/social science, it can seem daunting to undertake your own academic research. It’s certainly a challenge and a major learning curve, but having been through the process via a postgraduate certificate (PGC) with i-coach academy and Middlesex University (Institute for Work-Based Learning), I have lived to tell the tale – and achieved valuable skills and a postgraduate qualification in the […]

Perspectives – There is no wall

Stuart Haden What do you do when you hit a wall? Cut through your perceptions and coach yourself past it
 I’ve been competing in ultramarathons for the past three years. Recently, I started making the connection between these endurance events and my role as a coach. As soon as you start contemplating distances beyond 26.2 miles the mental aspect of the race becomes crucial. This is where my coaching skills come to the fore. Three years ago I signed up for the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km (62 miles and a 2,000 metre ascent). I envisaged it being a landmark in my […]

Viewpoint: United, we stand

Managers are often disappointed by their attempts to unite people but coaching can help, says Chris Welford

In troubled times, managers usually exhort their people to stand together, get aligned and be prepared to fight a common battle. However, all too often they are disappointed at the response. Whether it’s collective action or individual procrastination, some people don’t seem to comply, even when it’s clear that it would be in their best interest. So much for a unitary perspective! How could adopting a coaching mindset help?

The cornerstone of coaching is being able to see the world from someone else’s point of view – it’s about building up non-judgemental awareness and it’s about being psychologically minded. Not everything is logical, linear or even visible. People’s motives sometimes lie well below the surface.

Even if the rational answer is to toe the party line in the interests of survival, it doesn’t follow that people will feel able to do this, and it’s their feelings that tend to win the day. They may have conflicting thoughts, beliefs and a mixed bag of emotions. Just being sensitive to this could help.

What could also be valuable is to encourage managers to take a pluralist approach. By this I don’t mean simply recognising that people belong to professional bodies or trade unions. What managers could consider with a coaching hat on are:

What groups exist in the old order? Where do people have a shared sense of belonging? Look beyond the obvious, as social identity isn’t always something that’s writ large!

Which groups are going to benefit from the new scheme of things and which groups are going to lose out in relative terms at least?

If there are no barriers to moving from a low-status group to a high status one, those in low status groups tend to move during times of change although not the other way round. A good coaching conversation might prompt this move.
The problem is that there are barriers to movement for many people and it’s here that trouble can begin. If a person’s group identity is pretty secure and they aren’t being threatened, there’s less of a problem and they could feasibly carry on as a member of a benign faction, not doing much to support the new world, but not getting in the way either.

The real danger lies in people feeling like they belong to a low-status group whose very existence is under attack and where there’s little hope of them crossing over to join the new elite. Keen to protect any sense of status and identity, they tend to become competitive, antagonistic and maybe openly hostile. Getting this on the table during a coaching conversation is extremely powerful and much better than the unitary approach which can cause reluctant capitulation at best and guerrilla warfare at worst.

Chris Welford leads Serco Consulting’s Organisational Psychology and Change service line

Perspectives – Take a hike

Pat Holland Pilgrims are looking for change on their journeys, and coaching is ready to help them find it What is it about the Camino de Santiago, the long walk in Spain along a medieval pilgrimage route, that has such an effect on those who take it? The pilgrimage, virtually dead in the 1960s, is thriving again, with huge economic, social, religious and personal significance. Every year up to 250,000 people walk along it. Many are unsure why. For every conventional Catholic there are several walkers seeking spiritual truth of some sort, solace for a loss, preparation for a change […]

Perspectives: The final frontier

Fiona Setch “Life is an enquiry and then you die” – Benjamin Zander1 Death and dying continue to be among Western Society’s greatest taboos – topics that many feel uncomfortable talking about. During my first career in nursing, I had the privilege of experiencing life through the lens of people coming to terms with their impending death. This taught me a great deal about the essence of communication: in particular, creating and sustaining rapport. I enjoyed all aspects of my nursing work, but discovered my niche when I moved to London to work with people living with HIV/AIDS. I worked […]

Perspectives – folk and music

Matthew Draper What does it mean to be a musician and a coach? How does one inform the other? The answer is a little unexpected Writing about how being a professional musician and, more specifically, playing music, has informed my coaching, has been a surprising process. My initial thoughts centred on creating a metaphor to link the activities of coaching and being a musician. For example, I wondered if there is a connection between exploring a composer’s meaning in music and exploring the meaning of a client’s words – the search for intention being complex in both instances. While this […]

Perspectives – Art for our sake

What can we learn from how others see the world? This column peers through different lenses, exploring how ideas and perspectives might be woven into coaching and mentoring – Dr Ho Law Isn’t art just as valid a coaching conversation as words? They both have the same power to transform As most readers know, coaching is about two people, coach and client, having a conversation. It is a specific kind of communication. Depending on your definition of coaching, it has a meaning, structure and process that facilitate change towards a desirable state (purpose or goal). Transformation is key. It is […]