While measurables are vital in the coaching contract, most coaching clients simply want to find the measure of themselves. But aren’t both connected? By Lindsay Wittenberg Coaching objectives. Measurables. Performance. Effectiveness. These concepts – so core to coaching, and so important as a means for coaching clients and organisations to measure the return on their respective investments in coaching programmes – are in fact irrelevant to what some of my coaching clients really want to use their coaching time for, certainly at the beginning of their coaching programmes. Making remarks such as: “I want to be who I really am”, […]


Power and responsibility are given to you as an executive coach, both by yourself and your clients. Is it time to re-examine its implications?  By Lindsay Wittenberg The impact of the use of power has turned up for me in some unexpected places. In a triangular meeting at the start of a coaching programme a line manager frames his coaching objectives, and their achievement, as a tool for performance management. The coaching client not only considers the line manager’s objectives to be inappropriate for the successful fulfilment of his role, and has struggled to gain the line manager’s understanding of […]


How do you coach a senior leader inhibited by fear of failure? Working systemically and mindfully will help access resources for you and your client By Lindsay Wittenberg I’m working with a number of clients – all in different organisations – who are frightened. And when I look back over previous clients I realise that some of them have been frightened too. All are senior leaders. They’re frightened of not living up to expectations, the criticism that this will bring, and the possible consequences (failure to get a promotion, failure to land a job, failure to keep a job). They’re […]


Leadership is like standing in a fast-flowing stream. Either you’re anchored or you’re buffeted by currents. Coaching enables us to discover our truth By Lindsay Wittenberg Leaders I coach are, in a sense, standing in a stream that is the flow of their life at work – the living of their organisational culture. The water flows around some of them in eddies and currents in which they stand anchored and balanced. However, for many others the currents jostle them this way and that, challenging them to stay stable and upright on what they experience as a slippery and uneven surface […]


Line managers may confuse coaching with performance management. Supervision and reflection will guide your decision to proceed or withdraw By Lindsay Wittenberg “We’re going to have to let her go, but we want to know she’s had a go at being coached” “His technical delivery is faultless, but he’s complacent about influencing people appropriately: he just assumes he’s right, so he doesn’t really fit here” “Her performance hasn’t been managed for years and there are some issues. We’d like her to have some coaching sessions with you”   I’ve encountered all these comments from line managers over the past few […]


How I ‘am’ in the coaching relationship is much better managed with a light touch than studied preparation, bringing deep trust and insight from the client by Lindsay Wittenberg I recently had chemistry sessions with two potential clients who decided, on the spot, to work with me. Curious about how they had made their decisions, I asked each of them how it was that they had made these decisions in the moment. One replied: “You understand me” and the other replied: “I feel accepted. I don’t feel judged.” Both of them were talking about their experience of me. Neither of […]


‘Clarity, new ideas, insights and fresh perspectives.’ In her latest column, Lindsay Wittenberg considers the many benefits of reflective work I’m a natural reflector: I reflect in writing before and after every coaching and supervision session, I reflect mentally during those sessions – and I reflect in public for these columns. My reflection brings me clarity, new ideas, insights and fresh perspectives, and I consider it an intrinsic part of any coaching that I deliver: without it I would be simply skimming across the surface of what is actually going on and what the possibilities for change could be. It […]


In a coaching relationship, the client’s stories reflect a fraction of who they are. We must resist jumping to assumptions based on those fragments By Lindsay Wittenberg I recently had the sad experience of attending the cremation of a previous client who had died at the age of just 56. As I watched the projected photos of him at various times in his life – from babyhood to life with his family, and as I looked around me at the dozens of people who had come to pay their respects, I glimpsed how rich and multifaceted is a human being’s […]


What is leadership now in light of the shock Brexit referendum result? And what will guide our coaching in this period of uncertainty? By Lindsay Wittenberg As I write this, my shock at the outcome of the EU referendum result is slowly subsiding. I’ve been dismayed at the failure of our senior political leadership to accurately communicate the true facts of the UK’s EU membership. I’ve been appalled at the lack of integrity in the campaigns. I’ve been saddened at the divisions and exclusions that have developed rather than building on interconnection and the value of diversity. I’ve been alarmed […]


Compass or straitjacket? A client’s lack of clarity in the contracting process may prove problematic at first, but measurables will often surface during the coaching relationship By Lindsay Wittenberg   Measurement – or, rather, lack of it – and contracting are attracting my attention. I’m thinking of the client who resists expressing specific coaching objectives – and whose measurables for those objectives are therefore hard for them to define. The line manager who is convinced that a report will benefit from coaching, but who is vague and general in their expectations, objectives and measurables. The organisational sponsor of a large […]