When a particularly successful career comes to an end, clients can struggle to find new meaning for themselves. Coaching can help redefine that meaning   When a senior leader or very high achiever is obliged, or has chosen, to move on from the peak of their career, the loss can be as challenging and unsettling as a bereavement. This arises when an individual is moving towards retirement after a career of exceptional success, fulfilment and sometimes public recognition for their accomplishments. It can occur when someone knows they’re coming to the end of their working life because of their age […]


When clients feel deep trust in the coaching relationship, they may access inner worlds, stretching the boundaries of what was previously possible   Experience of the magic that can emerge when I have high trust in my coach, a story of betrayed trust, and Mark McMordie’s feature, ‘Be safe, be free’ in the July/August issue of Coaching at Work, have drawn my attention to the role of safety in the coaching relationship. When a client trusts their coach they can feel safe enough to engage with their own inner world and to deepen or broaden the coaching encounter accordingly. This […]


How should we coach when we find ourselves with shared experiences or mirroring behaviour? Can we maintain our connected separateness? Lindsay Wittenberg   I’ve been thinking about how I bring myself to my client encounters, and factors that influence this. I’m reflecting on what’s emerging around ‘converging’ and ‘parallel’. Some years ago I coached a talented senior woman who’d joined an organisation which was looking for ‘fresh blood’ from a different sector. Once there, she discovered how difficult it was to be different in an established culture. She struggled to maintain her identity and to live her personal values at […]


How do you coach an enthusiast for change or a resister to it? Coaches should look to the Buddhist image of the caterpillar and the butterfly by Lindsay Wittenberg   Buddhists tell us that what the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning. That everything that has an ending has a beginning and that if we make our peace with that, all will be well. I’ve found this concept resourcing as I work with clients encountering change and converting it into their own transition or transformation. As I coach clients who are part of a […]


Why are we so reluctant to face uncomfortable facts? Maybe we should look past conformity and constructively challenge the norm in ourselves and others Lindsay Wittenberg When you get to know an organisation because you’ve had a few coaching assignments with them, you begin to notice themes and patterns in behaviours and attitudes. My attention has been drawn lately by patterns in organisational behaviour that appear to me to be counterproductive, or to ignore obvious truths. There’s the company that fails to hold a leader accountable for inappropriate demands on one after another of the people who report to her. […]


At a certain point in senior leaders’ careers they pause in chasing outcomes, and start considering who they are, widening and enhancing their perspective By Lindsay Wittenberg   Who am I if I don’t have the answers?” A deceptively simple question – and one which integrates the multitude of issues that so many of my clients tussle with, without necessarily expressing their quest for clarity and direction quite as succinctly as this client, a high-achieving executive in his 40s. Most obviously, and in the context of career, it’s about identity: in my experience, at a certain point in leaders’ increasingly […]


When Gen X coaches met Gen Z students to express assumptions, they found more similarities than differences. Surely our humanity needs to come first? by Lindsay Wittenberg There were some significant differences in the session I ran at the Coaching at Work conference on 4 July. Perhaps most obvious was that the session featured 11 female guests. Nine were students aged 16 or 17 from Rosebery School in Surrey, UK, two attended in their capacity as these students’ teachers, all had had some training in coaching. Both teachers stood out from the norm. One, Victoria Niroomand-Rad, has created and implemented Student […]


Organisations that buy coaching to support staff well-being, may find the culture is hostile to its success. How can coaches work with that tension? By Lindsay Wittenberg More and more of my clients are showing up stressed (to the point of being signed off work), pressured to a degree that leaves some of them feeling ground down rather than fulfilled (albeit that they’re performing well) or feeling their positions are precarious, dependent sometimes on the whim of a line manager who’s also stressed, pressured or ground down. Organisations that buy coaching to build the well-being of their workforces can, knowingly […]


How can coaching help end male leaders’ discrimination against female colleagues? A systemic stance may reveal deep and lasting change Lindsay Wittenberg Sadly, I’m finding it as common as ever to hear female clients talk of not being acknowledged or included by male colleagues in discussions and decision-making, being bypassed by people making a beeline for a male colleague when the most appropriate address is the female herself, and not being heard in conversations and meetings. Some are subject to derogatory or belittling comments or discrimination – and worse, as the #MeToo movement is highlighting. Such attitudes by men, especially […]


The Earth is a tiny point of light in the universe, says Carl Sagan, but it is also our responsibility. Let’s bring our world view into how we coach future leaders Lindsay Wittenberg We had reached the end of a short coaching programme when my client reflected that he was getting a clearer sense of who he truly was. In that context, he mused on US astronomer, cosmologist and astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot (New York: Random House Publishing Group, 1997), and my curiosity was piqued. Hearing a short excerpt from the book ( I found myself both […]