Coaching is Situational

Imagine a CEO who is new to an industry sector, yet charged with providing strategic insight and direction.  Or an aspirational leader who doesn’t have a firm grasp on organisational politics.  Both these leaders need to orient themselves – and quickly – to how their sector and organisations work.

Being able to read one’s environment is a core leadership capability, also called situational intelligence.  Those who don’t have it are slow off the mark.  They miss opportunities and are soon by-passed when new appointments are made.

Coaches play a key role in building situational intelligence.  So much so, that I would argue it is impossible to coach leaders in isolation, without reference to the context they work in.  Well it’s probably possible, but I believe it’s irresponsible.

As coaches, it’s imperative that our work with the individual – as they present in front of us –  is informed by a deep curiosity about how they operate within the systems they live and work in.  GCI coaches ask questions not just of the individual and their own aspirations, feelings and thought patterns, but actively enquire into the dynamics of the system.

We want to know how leaders read their environment, what they pay attention to and what they minimise or ignore.  We want to know what is likely to trigger a clash of ideologies or assumptions and how they adapt their style and messaging in order to bring others with them on the journey.

It stands to reason that the clearer and more incisive one’s questions about the system, the better the data the individual can give you.

However, only having the individual in front of us can be a challenge.  Unless our coaching is embedded in a wider organisational change initiative, we often don’t have access to the full system and the insights that direct observation can yield.  We rely on the coachee’s representation of their organisation, department or the team they work within.  Inevitably, our clients view will have blind-spots.  How then do we best serve them?

As coaches our role is to help them build a rich picture of themselves within the system, their relationship to it, and their impact upon it.

Coaches, therefore, need insights into system dynamics.  This empowers us to ask questions wide ranging enough to extend the client’s own enquiry.

Some useful questions to open up our client’s understanding of their systems are:

  • What are the founding stories and myths that shape the organisation’s identity?
  • What does the formal structure of the organisation convey? How is it enacted?
  • How would you describe the flow of information within the system?
  • Who holds power and influence? How is this negotiated?
  • What key events live on the organisational memory? What has kept them alive?
  • What experience and expectations do people bringing to their roles?
  • What is unique about this environment? What is familiar?
  • What may prove deceptive about this situation?
  • What is as yet unknown to you?

Join us in 2018 in our Coaching Fundamentals programs to apply systems theory and depth psychology in your coaching practice.  Or join us in Barcelona in May.

GCI

 

Choosing the Right Coach Training

I’m happy to introduce this guest post by Enric Arola, who joined our coaching intensive in Portland, Oregon, USA.  Enric has invited us to deliver this accredited coach training program in Barcelona, later this year in November/December.

How to choose the coach training program that’s right for you

Coaching is a discipline deeply rooted in the corporate world that is also familiar in our general global culture.  We even see coaches as characters in TV shows.

Many large companies use coaching regularly in the processes of promotion and development of their leaders and professionals.  They hire external coaches as well as their own company coaches.  Companies also support their managers and team managers to increase their leadership skills by training them in coaching techniques.

Through such trainings, team leaders gain resources to increase their awareness and connection with their staff, while expanding communication skills, intuition, self reflection, and to support effective action.

Professionals looking for coach training currently have a wide range of options.

Some factors to consider when deciding on a coaching program:

  • Accreditation by Professional Coaching Associations. Choosing a program accredited by a professional coaching association will ensure training in the key competencies of coaching, as well as grounding in the ethical applications of coaching.
  • Professional Coach Certification. Being certified as a coach is a process that requires a commitment and, more importantly, a clear niche goal.  What kind of coach you will be and what environments you plan to practice in will determine the necessity of certification.  Many business professionals do not require certification because their goal is building a powerful leadership methodology, while others devote themselves professionally as coaches.  For the professional coach, certification is a quality guarantee of their service.
  • A Systemic Approach. A good coaching program will also include a systemic approach which puts the individual client in the context of the organization and environment they work in.
  • Exploration of Belief Structure. Coaching is not only about encouraging your client to achieve their goals, it also provides a frame to reflect deeply on those goals and the beliefs they are forged from.  Coaching supports the client to learn more about their primary reality (what they know about themselves) as well as to explore their secondary reality (aspects of themselves they are not so familiar with).
  • High-Diversity Training Groups. Coaching, and leadership in general, is characterized by the desire to include and accept personal and environmental diversity.  Working with differences that trigger us emotionally is a challenge for all human beings.  Coach training can provide an opportunity meet a diversity of people in a safe and protected space.  Different personalities, experiences, professional roles, and cultures become our allies in personal leadership.
  • Transferable to Different Working Environments. Unlike personal or life coaching, executive coaching requires awareness and skills to align the coachee with the objectives of their organization.  However confidential coaching may be, working with a client in an organization cannot focus only on the individual’s needs without aligning with their team and company.  An executive coach needs to create bridges by including the coachee’s supervisor in sessions, making formal agreements of the coaching process, or periodic follow-up of the objectives by the participant and their supervisor.  A good coach training needs to reflect on and teach how to maximize transfer of coaching skills into business.

Coaching is a great opportunity to support individuals in their personal and professional satisfaction, while also helping the systems they work within to gain in productivity and cohesion.

Often, coaches I train and my workshop participants ask about quality training programs.  One school I know, the Global Coaching Institute (GCI), has a particularly interesting focus derived from their exploration of depth psychology.

Last summer I traveled to the United States to join their coach training.  I and my partners at In Movement have decided to offer the intensive GCI program for the first time in Spain, facilitated by the two founders, Vicki Henricks and Rho Sandberg.

For more information on this training, please vist:  http://globalcoachinginstitute.org/upcoming-events/

Enjoy training to be a coach!

Eric Arola

You can also see Eric’s original post on his website here:  http://www.enricarola.com/english/how-to-choose-the-best-coaching-training/

GCI

Lessons From South Africa on Systemic Coaching

 

I am writing this post from South Africa – a country I first visited as a 17-year old.  It was shortly after the Soweto Student Uprising; a key moment in the fight against Apartheid.  Traveling here, I entered a society so different from my own that all of my senses were alert to the nuance of each interaction.  There was a vibrant edge, being in a country on the brink of change.  I missed that when I returned home to my familiar and seemingly, more stable culture.

Being back in South Africa now reminds me of the importance of context.  In fact, while I know it’s overdoing it, I want to suggest that in coaching context is everything.   If we – and our clients – don’t understand the cultural context, we’re in big trouble.  At some point we are likely to wake up with a start, because what we took for granted has landed us in trouble.

However, most of us grow accustomed to familiar contexts.  We take our circumstances for granted and we don’t even think about them.

At an individual level, we don’t consciously notice the external influences that cue us about who we are and what we are capable of.  We merge with the dominant forces in our environments, and internalize their messages.  By unconsciously taking on their norms and expectations about how we should behave and what is possible, we split off from our own potential.

In a society with a history of war or racial divide, the consequences of systemic influences and messaging, which most people were born into is especially worrying.  Some of those messages can be crippling – for individuals and for the society.

In South Africa there is a recognition that it may take several generations of conscious effort to undo the damage.  My colleague Zed Xaba is one of those people committed to ensuring that ‘the work’ is done.  The focus of her race work lies in exploring the dynamics of internal oppression with black South Africans.  Zed’s colleague, Caroline Hopkins, works with white South Africans to understand and re-evaluate the expectations, attitudes and assumptions they internalised while growing up.  These women are doing foundational work that will result in healing for individuals and the society.

We don’t often speak about coaching and healing in the one sentence, but to my way of thinking their work is a fine example of the healing and transformative power of coaching.

Despite the great commitment to building unity within South Africa, trying to plaster over the difference would be naïve.  Pushing inequity and social tensions underground is dangerous, and usually leads to conflict. Most South Africans I speak with feel the tension and the risk their society faces at the present time.   In some regions the work of transformation and healing has gone deep.  However, there are pockets within the country where the white privileges of the Apartheid era are still entrenched.

Researcher and coach Val Tapela works with community development practitioners in the Western Cape region. Typically organisational coaching practice might focus on leadership, capacity building or career planning.  However Val coaches her clients to understand the cultural difference between Johannesburg and the Cape.   She works with her clients to build resilience and help them last in their profession.  She has found it most important to help newly-arrived practitioners understand and find ways to deal with the subtle and not so subtle race dynamics in their new environment.

Of course, South Africa is not the only environment in which context matters. All of our coaching clients operate in distinct contexts which have an influence on them and which we, like Zed, Clair and Val have an opportunity to influence.

If you want to build your understanding of systems and coaching practice, why not join us in Barcelona in November/December!

Experience not just advanced coaching skills, but how coaches work with their clients in a climate of dynamic social change.  Join our community in bringing a systems mind-set to coaching.

 

GCI

Becoming a Coach: Stop Being the Expert

In earlier posts I have written about a central tenet of coaching which states the client is whole, capable and resourceful.

Once we accept the client’s inherent capability and that it exceeds our own in many cases, we are on the way to becoming truly useful.  Though there is usually a learning curve to navigate before we fully get there.

A Crisis of Identity

Firstly, there can be a crisis of identity for individuals who are used to the role of technical expert or even being an expert supporter of others (as a consultant, manager or therapist).  As coaches, it’s our role to support and challenge clients to be their own expert.  If we try to show our know-how of the content they are working with, that can go against them inhabiting their own authority.

I know this struggle from the inside out.  I’ve wrestled it cheek by jowl.  This struggle and I know each other so well, we’re on a first name basis.  It commands my attention regularly, to ensure I’ve learned its lessons thoroughly.

Why is it so hard to give up being the expert?

Many of our earliest discoveries about what is rewarded in life occurred in grade school.  I was the girl whose hand always shot up to answer the teacher’s questions.  I learned that knowledge and having the answer was the main currency of the classroom.  And boy was I good at it.  I worked hard at the game and usually got the answers right, and got a little dopamine rush of reward each time.  This formed my sense of identity.  I was a clever girl.  I scored highly.  My teachers were happy, my parents were happy, and I knew how to be an expert.

You can imagine my shock when coach training asked me to drop my capacity to know the answer, which I believed was my key asset.  The more I tried to know the answer, the more my trainers and mentors shook their heads.  I scowled at them for changing the rules of sucess on me.  They smiled back, but they didn’t let me off the hook.  Thankfully they insisted I take a deep breath, sooth my ego, and face up to this new way of being.

Do you have a dependency on expertise? 

Most of us only realise how closely we are wedded to being an expert when we need to relinquish it.  Next time you must let go of knowing, notice what comes up for you.  Here are some responses that often pop up in our coach training.

If I’m not bringing superior insight, wisdom or a refined capacity to interpret my clients’ situation, why am I here?

I’m not sure what to do if I don’t offer an insight or interpretation.

If the client can manage without us … what contribution am I making?

Stripped of the aura of expertise projected onto the technical expert, most emerging coaches feel disoriented.  They fear they may be lacking or redundant in their new role.  This is a vulnerable experience.

Unlearning Our Expertise

Once we appreciate that the client’s inherent capability can and should exceed our own, we enter a process of unlearning.  We need to stop being experts in the content or context of the session, and become experts in supporting the client’s own expertise.  For many of us, this isn’t easy.  Even committed client-centred practitioners find it surprising how often they rely on framing the client’s narrative, rather than supporting them to engage in the meaning making process themselves.

There can be a crisis of identity for new coaches used to being in an active supporting role.  If we are not bringing superior insight, wisdom or a refined capacity to interpret our clients’ situation and point the way through their dilemmas, what are we supposed to do?  If the client can manage without us, why are we even there?   Stripped of the aura of expertise projected onto the therapist, counsellor or technical expert, most emerging coaches feel disoriented.

Understanding the Costs

To overcome our reliance on expertise we need to understand both the pay offs and the costs of being seen as the expert.

The simple fact of the matter is that clients know more about their situations than we do.

Bringing us up to speed on all the information and understanding they’ve gleaned over months and sometimes years would take a lot of time.  If you need convincing, think about the hours and intensive research involved in large consultancy projects.  Getting the pertinent data on the table is a laborious business.

Our precious coaching time is much better spent expanding and deepening the client’s understanding.  Leaders need to progress their thinking, not explain it all to their coach every time they meet.

We Need to Learn to Trust Our Clients

Letting go of your desire to know all the facts is not only essential but highly doable.  It usually comes with practice and good supervision with a coach-mentor who supports you with humor and grace through the inevitable identity or practice crisis.  It is a process of accepting our client’s expertise as superior to our own in their situation.  We must trust their authority.

The Benefits

When emerging coaches learn to let go of being the expert, they free up bandwidth for tracking different sorts of information.  They are able to observe what is happening in the moment; the areas where their client’s thinking flows and where they meet roadblocks.  This is where the coach’s skills are needed.  When we support and challenge our clients to work their own way through those road blocks, we earn our coaching fees.

Our contribution and relevance lies in our ability to pay attention to the client’s development process or the systemic factors operating in the background, within their organisations and the society. We listen for the patterns that inform our clients decisions, rather than trying to make their decisions for them.

If you are interested in learning more about process-oriented coaching please contact us here.

Reflections:

How have you managed the need to be an expert?

Interested in advanced Coach Training?  Join us in Byron Bay, Australia, this October!

GCI

The Unequal Risks of Transparency in a Discriminating World

With renewed debate in Australia about gay marriage, I am reminded of it’s impact on individuals, as well as the mainstream’s inability to appreciate diversity in sexual orientation.  I wrote this piece about the intersection of discrimination and mental health a little while ago.  I’m posting it again here because it is still very much relevant.

Coming Out in Public

Over the past few days there’s been widespread commentary on Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe’s coming out as gay.  Discussion ranges from unconditional support to expressions of disappointment and even to criticism that he didn’t come out sooner.

As a heterosexual, I notice my own discomfort about this commentary and I’m hesitant to add to it.  I’m conscious that few heterosexuals attract this level of scrutiny around their sexual orientation.  There is no expectation we should come out and declare ourselves; heterosexuality is the assumed norm.  It’s the mainstream position.  It comes with a free pass.

Thorpe, like many individuals in our diverse workplaces and communities, is subject to pressures that many don’t have to endure and don’t fully understand.  This pressure is not just something he has been under in the past week.  He’s most probably endured it for years.  The strain associated with marginality is reflected, in Thorpe’s case, through his long-term struggle with depression.  His public story is a powerful illustration of the incredible personal and social costs of being marginalized and discriminated against.

Some of the criticism aimed at Thorpe relates to his concerns about coming out.  Among the many risks he faced was the loss of corporate sponsorship.  It shocks me that public discussion has focused on Thorpe’s choices in this situation, rather than the social dynamic which creates such dilemmas in the first place.

Our Responsibility as Observers

Examining this dynamic brings those of us who are more mainstream face to face with our own choices.  It asks us to call-out homophobia and other forms of subtle and overt discrimination.

In coming out against a backdrop of prejudice, Thorpe needs to be acknowledged and appreciated for his courage.  Some have expressed disappointment that he didn’t use his position as a sports champion to further the cause of young gay people earlier.  These comments assume that breaking world records in the pool equips an individual to go against the weight of social pressure.  It’s unfair that we ask Thorpe to carry the weight of a growing desire for social change.

While it’s true Thorpe was virtually untouchable for many years in the water, it’s a mistake for us to assume he’s invincible in all aspects of his life.  Such thinking is typical of a widespread tendency to project unrealistic capabilities onto people in the public eye.

Seeing Both Great Acheivements and the Human Being

In his interview with Michael Parkinson, Thorpe’s vulnerability and the depth of his struggle are palpable.  The challenge for us as members of the public is if we are able to embrace both Thorpe’s achievements and his humanity.  Can we hold both simultaneously?  Do you favor one aspect over the other?

Why ask these questions?  Because Ian Thorpe is not so different from most people.  There are aspects of our lives that are easy to share with others.  Each of us has a public persona that we present to the world.  That persona shows others who we are, but it’s an edited version of ourselves.

If we are honest, we must acknowledge the thoughts, feelings and experiences that we downplay or actively hide.  We try to avoid being judged by other people.  Thankfully, most of us don’t stand in the intense glare of the public spotlight.  The pressure on members of diverse populations to hide parts of themselves is much larger than it is for the mainstream and it must not be underestimated.

I invite you to put the current focus on Ian Thorpe as a public figure into perspective, by reflecting on the following questions.

Reflections:

Which aspects of your life do you feel free to share with others?

Which aspects of your life are you reluctant to reveal to others?

What risks do you associate with being more open about these things?

What is the gift of these more marginalized dimensions of your own life?

What do you love and appreciate about them?

GCI

Seven Reasons Therapists Move Into Coaching

Lately we’ve had many therapists join our programs. They already have a well developed skill set, which they want to transition into the world of coaching.

As I used to be a therapist, I’m curious why so many skilled professionals are taking the coaching path.  Sure, I’m totally sold on it.  But why are so many other therapists coming to it, and with such passion?  In many ways my own story obscures my understanding of others.  I don’t want to project my own experience onto others, or to assume my career trajectory is right for anyone else.  It’s important for me to step aside from my case study of one, and discover what draws our students to our programs, as well as what they are gaining from the experience.

I must say I’m learning heaps –  as usual – from our students.  Here’s what I’m discovering:

1. A Love of Learning

Therapists and counsellors tend to be passionate about growing and ongoing learning.  So there is an intrinsic pull to explore new frontiers.

2. An Intrinsic Drive To Share Their Skills

Many practitioners know that much of the work they do with individuals is also needed in our social institutions.  It’s painful to see a lack of social conscience in organizations and to know that individuals are suffering from that.  For this to change, practitioners need a way to engage organizational leaders and their workforces.

3.  Clients Recognise Their Potential

For a significant number of therapists the move is client driven.  Clients are presenting to trusted counsellors with a desire to navigate career choices, understand workplace dynamics and manage other dimensions of their lives more effectively.   Yet many practitioners feel they lack specific content expertise in these domains.  It’s a real dilemma, all of the ground work has been done …  The deep rapport has been established.  There is permission to explore most or all facets of the individual’s life.  Yet the therapist feels at a loss to serve their client in ways more suited to context.

4. Recognising Situational Differences

What works in an organisational setting is not necessarily the same as what works in a family – though there is undeniably loads of overlap.  Approaching organisational leaders or even teams with the same methods one uses in counselling or therapy will fall short.   An implicit understanding of this makes many therapists interested in organisational work nervous.  Either they don’t venture forward, or they have been a little burnt when their early forays into organizations haven’t gone as they expected.

5. The Burden of Care

Coaching is strongly predicated on the assumption that the client is whole, capable and resourceful.  This places a different burden of responsibility upon the coach than therapists and counsellors.  It might be that the types of clients coaches work with are different, but it’s also the role and the contract that are different.  Considering domains such as chronic and mental health coaching, we understand that the same client can benefit from both therapy and coaching.

6. Strong Market Demand

The market for coaching services is growing. Many organizations now engage coaches to work on skillsets such as interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence and regulation.  These areas have long been the domain of therapists, but management in organizations is increasingly seeing the advantages of addressing them in the workplace.

7.  Earning Capacity

And then of course there’s the fact that coaching fees are usually higher; at least double and up to four or five times higher than the fees charged by most counsellors and therapists.  While our graduates may be a little shy to speak about this advantage – it offers significant lifestyle choices, meaning they can have more time for themselves.

The DNA of Organisations

Edgar Schein, author of the ground-breaking text Organisational Culture and Leadership is fondly known as the grandfather of organisational development. Over the years Schein has begun to think and speak in terms of the DNA of an organisation, or its cultural genome.

Schein argues that we can’t simply transplant notions of how to improve culture from one setting to another. Instead we need to engage deeply with the inherent nature of the organisation. Not only do we need to know the organization’s structure, but also how it works psychologically and relationally. Coaches and consultants need to understand the process of an organisation.

Schein’s view makes absolute sense to process-oriented coaches. Our art is to engage with leaders in the midst of their transformational journey. We know it is fundamental to coaching effectiveness that we find out a leader’s mental models and uncover what is taken for granted within the organization.

Schein asks, “What are the things that, when we try to change cultures, turn out to be huge barriers?”

The Organization’s Growing Edge

As process-oriented coaches and organisational development practitioners we think of this as a great point of potential and growth. We call it the edge. This is a place where many leaders and teams may falter, but process-oriented coaches are like rock climbers highly adept at scaling the edge.

The edge is where our coaches come alive. They are skilled at exploringe edges from every angle; from within the moment when a leader is gripped by fear or from the mindful distance that offers a new perspective and insight. We climb with our clients, helping them gain new insights, as they prepare their organisation to cross into new and uncharted territory.

It is through the exploration of edges and other dynamic phenomena that the unique DNA of an organisation is revealed.

Yet edges are easily missed. Avoiding what is over the edge is so much part of an organization’s culture, people are usually unaware the edge is even there. In their efforts to maintain the status quo, leaders and teams tend to avoid edges, in favour of better known behavior.

A coach’s skill lies in their capacity to recognize and work with edges. We must catch the typical signs, such as sudden changes of topic, deflecting humor, nervous laughter, or just plain drawing a blank.

Despite their well-practiced avoidance strategies, we must hold our clients at this point of growth and enquiry. At the edge there will be resistance, in one of its many forms.

In our forthcoming Coaching with the E1ME2RGE3 Model and GCI Coaching Roadmap programs we will explore these ideas in greater depth. but for now let me ask you …

  • What are the common edges you encounter in working with clients on cultural change initiatives?
  • What have you discovered as unique to different organisations?
  • How do you hold these moments of discovery and potential?

Process-Oriented Coaching

As coaches we are consistently called to debunk the trap of being an expert.  Of course being an expert is seductive; it strokes our egos.

But we are called to put our egos and expertise aside.  We are here to honor our clients’ inherent wisdom, as it’s revealed through their emerging process; a dynamic, changing and shifting event.

We notice what is already trying to happen; the momentum that is present but momentarily thwarted within an organisation.

When we’re caught by our expertise, we lose our capacity to pay attention.  We focus on past successes rather than what is happening under our very noses.

A process-oriented approach to coaching means learning to be at ease when we don’t know what will happen next.  As well as following our client, we pay attention to what is happening within ourselves and within the larger systems we are part of.  We begin to notice things that are new, that may be mysterious and unexpected.

In organisational dynamics terms, we are curious about the unfreezing of systems.  As we observe the fluid processes within organisations, we support stuck or rigid practices to re-enter a state of flow.

Focus on the Emerging Flow

Much has been written about resistance to change within organisations and systems, but we are fascinated by the organic flow already at work.  Sometimes if that flow is suppressed, potential and initiative can break out in forms that look problematic.  Obstructed initiative is reflected in high staff attrition. Poor use of power results in conflict and protest.

Our ability to study these phenomena and understand what is happening in the background is fundamental to realizing organisational and social potential.

Process oriented coaches help leaders and teams to understand these dynamics.  This equips our clients to support those processes already emerging or trying to emerge within their organization.  When leaders are alert to their dynamic environment, transformation becomes possible.

Some questions to ask yourself:

    • What is dynamic and alive at the moment in your organisation?
    • What is dynamic in your own life?
    • How does this affect you?
    • Where is the flow frozen or stuck?
    • What do you notice about the quality of the stuckness?
    • Look closer … What is happening even within apparent stuckness?

Ready to learn more?  Join us in Melbourne, April 6-7.

Taking Coaching to the Streets

Since the Women’s Marches in cities across the USA and around the world I have been heartened and inspired by all the women and men taking to the streets to advocate for their vision of a just and inclusive world.  The images on social media brought me to tears.  The spirit and resilience of those who came out despite rain and freezing conditions gives me hope.  Above all I was reminded of how important it is to reach out in times of adversity.

The latest estimate is that 1 in 100 people in the US joined the marches (http://www.popsugar.com/news/How-Many-People-Attended-Women-March-43032901#photo-43032901).  I feel solidarity with them all.

The incredible organizing, fundraising and networking behind these protests began with one woman inviting her friends to protest.  It has grown to become a stunning global movement.

While I wasn’t able to join the marches here in Australia the photos of friends and strangers boarding planes and taking to the streets, reminded me of times I’ve gone out with other coaches to speak with complete strangers about their hopes for the world.

Coaches as Social Change Agents

The first time I did that was in a Fran Peavey workshop in 1990, when she sent 20 of us coaching students out into the local mall.  Fran instructed us to go up to people we’d never met, who were just going about their business, and ask them coaching questions.  We got their permission, and just started  asking their views on world events.  The first Gulf War had just begun.  There was a lot happening on the world stage to talk about.

Firstly I was blown away by how willing people – total strangers – are to speak about these things.  I suspect people want to talk more than they do, and all they need is for someone to be interested in them.  Two young men I remember in particular began their answers saying, “I don’t know.”  For many, that would be an end to the conversation, but I asked them more questions.

·         What matters to you right now?  

·         What have you noticed about world events?  

·         What is it you don’t know about?  

·         What would you like to know more about?”  

… then back to those critical questions ….

·         ”What do you really care about?”  

·         “How can you help make that a reality, even in a small way?

When I hit on the right way to ask about their world, those young men suddenly lit up, saying “Hey, we do know something!”

Those simple coaching questions had momentarily changed their image of themselves.  Suddenly they had understanding and input to give.  This is a key aspect to a functioning democracy.  If the people on the street feel they don’t understand and no one cares what they think, they are easier to manipulate.  When people realize they are capable and important as citizens, they begin to be empowered.

How about it coaches?  Let’s start developing the role we play in social change.