Who is responsible for our mental health at work? And where is the boundary of the coach’s responsibility to call out damage? By Lindsay Wittenberg We hear and read increasingly about the need for wellbeing – and its underpinning of effectiveness. If wellbeing at work relates to a sense of ease in the working environment, fulfilment, belonging, being valued, having rewarding relationships and good health, then whose responsibility is it? Not only is this responsibility unclear in some organisations, but also the mention of mental health may be taboo, in a way that the mention of physical health isn’t. Admitting […]


People live and work in complex contexts. Using constellations as part of systemic coaching can offer profound insights into clients’ challenges By Lindsay Wittenberg When a new client comes for coaching they bring with them their challenges as they see them from their individual perspective. We may work with them on their thinking patterns, their psychological frameworks, the patterns of their relationships or their emotional intelligence, and we may introduce them to tips and techniques they can use to manage themselves in specific situations. We support them to understand their situation and choose new behaviours. In addition, each client lives […]


Coaches need to be knowable to their clients. It increases their capacity to hear compassionately as clients open up to explore difficult issues By Lindsay Wittenberg My brief for these columns is to share my reflections on my client work, the learning that’s emerged for me from those reflections, and the impact on my practice. The very fact of setting out my reflections in public always makes me think carefully about the balance between my contract for confidentiality with my clients, on the one hand, and providing content that readers may find useful, on the other. It’s not always an easy […]


Clients can become so embroiled in their work that they lose their identity. Coaching can guide them back to being whole, integrated beings again By Lindsay Wittenberg   I’m intrigued by how the question of how the coaching client’s identity – or more accurately, identities – is manifested in the coaching encounter. For some leaders, coming to greater clarity about, and acceptance of, who they really are (and the learning that this more than anything will impact their effectiveness) is a significant challenge. It’s closely connected to the challenge of managing how they show up at work. Organisational cultures demand […]


OPINION By Lindsay Wittenberg Aggressive leaders and insensitive feedback fail to get the best from staff, yet coaches must not judge the culture – or their client’s view of leadership I’m intrigued by the different perspectives that clients offer me on leadership as it is lived. There was the senior executive with responsibility for a significant initiative that was intended to transform the business – a role she loved. However, a new boss, the CEO, was making a big impression – and it wasn’t a positive one. It seemed to my client that the boss thought it was motivating to shout […]


LINDSAY WITTENBERG As coaches, even our very presence can impact the client. Is it possible to preserve the autonomy of the relationship? Alongside my growing interest in a systemic approach to coaching, I’ve been thinking increasingly about my own role in directing (albeit implicitly) the coaching client’s thinking – something I’m wary of, but which is inherent in my simply being present. One of my clients had a long history in her organisation and was passionate about its mission. She had played a significant role in shaping its evolution from cottage industry, with a family ethos, to becoming more formal […]


Lindsay Wittenberg Coaching, counselling or therapy? Supervision can yield new and valuable learning about where the coaching contract goes next From time to time I find myself working near the boundary between coaching and counselling or therapy. The reasons are various: sometimes the client brings patterns, attitudes, beliefs or history, which mean that something is in the way of the coaching succeeding, sometimes they just don’t seem to be emotionally or psychologically fit enough for coaching and sometimes the story they have created is a kind of drama that might look like extreme anxiety, extreme defences or pathology. The reflection […]