Speaking up and speaking out

By Martin Vogel

My time in lockdown has been bracketed by two enjoyable adventures in podcasting, courtesy of Charmaine Roche and her new series, Speak Up, Speak Out. Charmaine is a coach, working in the education sector, and is also researching a PhD on how coaches can help clients deal with the stress arising from ethical challenges. In her series of five podcasts, she has interviewed a different person each week on questions related to her research interest. I was privileged not only to have been her first guest but also the guest host in the final episode, interviewing Charmaine herself.

Listening to each episode, I have enjoyed how she has opened up an expansive view of coaching as a liberating intervention. She explores with her guests how people in organisations often feel pressure to conform against their better judgment and how coaching can help them access their integrity as professionals.

In her interview with me, she managed to get me to explore questions of cultural identity that influence how I practise as a coach but which I don’t usually present as part of my professional biography. I learned something about myself regarding how I cherish my perspective as something of an outsider.

In my interview of her, Charmaine also talks about her cultural upbringing as a Jamaican-born Briton growing up in overwhelmingly white, working class community. In her research, she is developing timely ideas around the idea of ethical stress which, if manifested in an oppressive way, can lead to moral injury. Coaching, she says, has a role to play in helping leaders avoid moral injury. This which might sound uncontroversial until one considers that all too often, coaching can all too easily become a sticking plaster, resourcing people to adapt to the indefensible or corrosive.

Charmaine defines psychological oppression that occurs in workplaces as “a climate of judgment that silences dissent.” At the end of her interview, she speaks of the twin imperatives of not allowing oneself to be silenced and, especially if one is in a position of leadership, of taking the time consciously to listen and pay attention.

In her podcast series, she is helping to define a community of practitioners who are aligned with this way of thinking.

Image courtesy Melany Rochester on Unsplash .

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