Coaching for Certainty-The Experts Weigh In
We recently published the issue called “Sticky Situation – Coaching for Certainty -The Experts Weigh In” written by Victoria Trabosh, CDC, CEC; SuziPomerantz, MT, MCC; .and Craig Carr, BCC, PCC, CPCC
The Situation: ” I got out of my executive position because I had too many leadership changes above me in my company and it was beyond frustrating having to keep training new bosses again and again. I got into coaching because what I loved most about my leadership role was developing others. Now I have an executive client who has had seven new bosses in two years, and she is thinking of leaving her company. How can I coach her to have the resilience I didn’t have?
Here’s what one of our experts, Craig Carr, had to say…
Two things come to mind right away. First, you’ve made an assumption – and perhaps a giant mistake – that resiliency is the primary focus for coaching. Second, the fact that you went there indicates you may not have closure on your own experience or at least not worked deeply enough on it to separate your agenda from hers. You’re susceptible to subconsciously projecting judgment and “over-adviceing” in your sessions. More on that coming up.
When I see workplace trauma, toxic culture and burdened positions, I see the components of despair and frustration, and a company culture descending into poor organizational health. A company that is achieving its financial goals can use its resources to invest in executive development and team collaboration training, or it can double-down on winning profits at any cost. You may hear terms like “human assets” and “meritocracy,” which, in my experience, can be unconscious code for seeing people as interchangeable, replaceable parts. This is a lamentable downside of capitalism in which it is barely an inconvenience to have people come and go.
In other words, be sure to explore the larger context in which your client finds herself. Is the troubling pattern isolated to the position of “her boss,” or does she see the pattern of something typical throughout the organization? In either case, your experience in a company unable to match people with positions may prove helpful. Whether resilience is the issue, however, revolves around the depth of trauma absorbed by your client. Assess whether her frustration is a reaction to her experience – like it was for you – or if it is an authentic expression of power, in which case resiliency will not be a problem.
If it’s an isolated pattern, she is misplaced in the company, and there may be another place she could thrive and belong. Suppose the company is systemically dysfunctional, however, and she’s not a person who wants to be an agent of change (which has its risks). In that case, the coaching may turn toward career strategy and, yes, resiliency.
Before you begin, it’s essential to discern how your experiences are different. This is a conversation to have with your coach, not the client. Your growth as a coach depends on catching any hint of collusion in your language or any feeling of bonding with her story. Notice these impulses, but if you tell yourself this is empathy and rapport – and believe it – you take power from the client and weaken the coaching.
When you catch collusion, everything depends on what you do next. Self-correct with a curious question rather than a default statement of clarity, insight or reflection. Get back to basics with a great question. Give yourself a breath. Get grounded in your body and connect to your client.
For the full article including the other views and support of our other two experts, see the December issue of choice, the magazine of professional coaching Volume 19, Issue 4, Resilience: Life beyond disruption
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