Sarah Gilbert, Michelle Lucas and Eve Turner share their peer supervision research, reflect on their experiences, and raise questions for future debate Imagine our confusion when three qualified supervisors in a peer supervision chain received conflicting views about the appropriateness of this form of reflective practice for coach and supervisor accreditation purposes from three different coaching professional bodies. In the current market, with many more coaches than supervisors and few supervisors who have experience of supervising supervisors, what ‘should’ best practice look like? In writing this article we wanted to share our own experiences and learning from being part of […]

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Internal coaching is thriving in the biggest accounting firms in the UK. In this report, based on a case study by Clive Mann, managing director of Ridler & Co, we examine the development and success of internal coaching in the Big Four accounting firms. What can other larger organisations learn from them?
The ‘Big Four’ accounting firms in the UK: Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC, have all developed their internal coaching into sophisticated, highly credible, well-established functions. Interest in internal coaching is rising among other large organisations, too. According to the latest 2013 Ridler Report, 79 per cent of large organisational respondents expected to see an increase in internal coaching in the next three years, with 39 per cent expecting a large increase.

That interest is being driven by factors, including internal coaches’ deep understanding of their organisation’s business context/political environment, the contribution that internal coaching makes to the organisation’s coaching culture and the relative value for money of internal versus external coaching in context of the increasing demand for executive coaching.

Clive Mann, managing director of Ridler & Co, says: “Over the course of the last seven years of researching trends in the use of executive coaching in the Ridler Report, it became clear that the Big Four accounting firms were doing a huge amount of executive coaching and had built up considerable expertise, especially in the provision of internal coaching. The credibility of internal coaching has become extremely well established in these firms, with full-time internal coaches working with some of their most senior individuals.

“The 2013 Ridler Report indicates that many organisations in the UK and internationally, intend to expand their use of internal coaching as the demand for coaching increases. I felt that these organisations could learn from the Big Four’s many years of experience and lessons learned. The idea to write a case study had its genesis when I met with the Big Four at the EMCC UK’s Professional Services Network in 2013.

“The Big Four have been very open, collaborative and generous in sharing their internal coaching approaches in the case study, for the benefit of the wider community.”

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We know that trust is essential in coaching, but can you define it? The concept is deceptively simple, and its meaning becomes murkier the deeper we delve. John Blakey explains why trustworthiness is a much more valuable concept Coaching professional bodies are unanimous in their agreement that trust is essential for an effective coaching relationship. But what exactly is trust? What is the coach’s role in building it and what is the client’s role? How can we get a tighter grip on this slippery concept so that we improve the quality of trust in our relationships? Of the 11 core […]

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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 executive coaches. He works with high-profile leaders and often very wealthy people. His mission is to help these successful leaders achieve positive, long-term, measurable change in behaviour: for themselves, their people and their teams, “helping them be better leaders”, he says.American leadership thinker Marshall Goldsmith […]

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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 turnover. Despite having a highly capable senior team, John is frequently involved in the everyday running of the business, leaving little time for strategic development. On a typical day he will spend a large amount of time working on solutions to operational issues and problem […]

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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.

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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, and more rugged, rising to 1,000 feet. Taking leave of the everyday world begins with leaving my car at the port, and boarding the ferry on foot. Immediately, the pace of life shifts down a gear. Standing on the deck, Arran steadily approaches across a […]

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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 while consumers are generally financially risk-averse, they tend to have a poor understanding of the nature of financial risks. This prompted me to think about the risks that I take (and don’t take) in the course of a coaching session, the risks that I invite […]

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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, rower Anna Watkins or gender equality champion, CEO Helena Morrissey. Such exemplary female role models show the importance of working hard, grasping opportunities and focusing on being the best version of ourselves. Yet women in sport have been getting a raw deal. In 2013, just […]

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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 takes a breath, say, ‘That’s interesting’. If he continues, wait until the next breath, and again say: ‘That’s interesting’.Eventually, he will ask you: ‘What’s so interesting?’ He is now listening. You have five to ten seconds to respond. Now ask him: ‘What do you think […]

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