US executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, one of the world’s most influential management thinkers and pioneer of 360-degree feedback, tells Liz Hall how he helps successful leaders achieve positive behaviour changes, and why he gives away most of his advice American leadership thinker Marshall Goldsmith is one of the world’s best-known, most influential and also best-paid […]


The boss of a large organisation finds himself mired in its day-to-day running, pulled in by senior managers who rely heavily on him for answers. How can he extricate himself and concentrate instead on furthering his company’s strategic business aims? John is managing director of a multi-million pound business that is looking to increase its […]


A series of columns on our role in tackling the complicated economic, environmental and social challenges we face. It is a place to question, offer, share, explore, challenge, dissent, celebrate, reflect, learn and enjoy

Some years ago we heard a story: two of the grandfathers of coaching, Sir John Whitmore and Tim Gallwey, were discussing the question: What is the question at the heart of coaching?

“What do you want?” offered Sir John (after all, GROW starts with G for goal).

“Who are you?” proposed Tim.

Questions shape conversations that shape actions in the world.

Recently, we asked Ian McDermott, founder of NLP and coach training organisation ITS, prolific writer, member of the Association for Coaching’s Global Advisory Panel and Honorary Fellow of Exeter University Business School, the core question for this column: “What is our role in addressing the big challenges of our times?”

“It doesn’t engage me,” he replied with fabulous, refreshing directness. “It seems so abstract. Global trends have to be personalised.”

He is clear that we should not be “an early warning system for society”.

We explored how coaching helps people to find their own wisdom; that it transcends techniques; that it is about a way of being; that it begins with the client’s own issues. Ian recounted a conversation with a colleague who shared the idea of creating an MBA together. “I’m more interested in an MBH – a Masters in Being Human. What would that be like?”

For him it led to creating the Henley MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change. He describes how, when we focus on being human, we become more humane. Beautiful.

Working at the personal, individual level is undoubtedly an essential part of what makes coaching so powerful.

The question that nags at us is: Should our coaching journeys stop there? As poet, John Donne said: “No man is an island.”

Work and life is about more than ‘Me’. The profession is seeing a growth in team and systemic work. As many put it: ‘From Me to We’.

It goes further. As anthropologist Gregory Bateson said, the unit of success and flourishing is not the individual, team, organisation or even nation; if the environment you are in is not flourishing, you will not flourish.

So, is the current journey ‘From Me to We’ going to be about much more than high performing teams and organisations? Will we get to become as comfortable introducing questions like: ‘What wider impact are you having?’ and ‘What will you be leaving for others?’ as we already are at asking: ‘What do you want?’ and ‘Who are you?’

A couple of years ago we heard Sir John say he will no longer work for organisations that won’t also consider the wider implications of their work.

Perhaps there actually is no conflict in these two views – maybe. Both looking out beyond ourselves and looking deeply within, are journeys along opposite areas of the same circle, each if completed, arriving in the same place: being human, being humane; connected; recognising our place and role in the world; treating all things, including ourselves, with care.


AMANDA RIDINGS A journey to a Holy Isle retreat in Scotland holds one coach’s assumptions to account On the ordnance survey map, Holy Isle, off the east coast of Arran, Scotland, is roughly the shape and size of my thumb. On the ferry from Ardrossan, it’s pointed out to me. It’s bigger than I envisaged, […]


LINDSAY WITTENBERG Questioning a client’s closely held, yet damaging beliefs, involves risk-taking on both sides. But, liberation awaits In September 2014, the Open University published a Green Paper1 on understanding risk, aimed at creating fresh thinking about how to encourage the average person to consider the financial risks they face. It provided a reminder that […]


LIZ DIMMOCK In this new column, Liz Dimmock will share lessons for mentoring and coaching from the sports world. This year she is leading a team of women cyclists around the globe. Sport has the potential to be a positive catalyst for girls and women. Just think of Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton, Ironman Chrissie Wellington, […]


Coaching at Work’s LinkedIn group now has more than 34,000 members and is very active. Why not join us? –How do you coach a team member who makes mountains out of molehills, wondered Ngozi Penson (New Zealand)? Michael Haro (US) suggested simply listening until he gets near the top of the mountain. “When he […]

What does 2015 look like to you?

What do you think the hot trends and new directions will be for the profession in 2015? And the challenges? And anything else we should be watching out for and getting excited about in the year ahead? Here are some of your views   What are the hot trends/new directions for the year ahead? Areas […]

EMCC awards

Coacharya, Professor Robert Garvey and Sweden’s Solidarity Coaching all received awards at the annual European Mentoring & Coaching Council conference in November in Venice. Coacharya, an executive coaching firm dedicated to the enhancement of human potential through a ‘mindless’ and transformative coaching process, won the Coaching Award for its work across Asia promoting the concept […]

Coaching at Work December e-newsletter

Welcome Venice: such a feast for the mind, senses and soul. The location for this year’s European Mentoring and Coaching Council’s annual conference, it proved to offer a delightful backdrop. It was energizing to explore a city whose lines and curves are unblemished by tower blocks, neon lights and satellites; where the soft warm golden­ness […]