Speaking up and speaking out

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.

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Reflections on the emergency

By Martin Vogel

I’ve been writing about the COVID emergency at my new blog, The Unknowing Project. I began this as a space to develop thoughts around the question of unknowing as a stance for our times, which has since become the task of all of us as old certainties have collapsed. One of the themes that is emerging is about cultivating equanimity.

This is from a month ago:

“Fierce equanimity looks into a potential abyss and steps back into a grounded responsibility. We don’t know what the next weeks and months will hold. But we each have a part to play in mitigating the virus. That part entails apprehending it with due seriousness and changing our behaviour accordingly.”

Read the full post: The awakening.

And this is from today:

“A lot of what we’re feeling at the moment is grief. Some of the emotional response to the Prime Minister’s condition exemplifies this. The laying low of the nation’s leader symbolises not just the loss of our sense of security but an anticipatory grief about what lies ahead. That it should happen not just to our Prime Minister but to somebody as bumptious and boosterish as Boris Johnson pulls the rug from whatever lingering denial we may have been labouring under.”

Read the full post: Nobody knows anything.

Please be in touch if you have any reflections. At a time like this, it can be hard to find one’s moorings. We might respond in different ways: perhaps with a frenzy of productivity or perhaps berating ourselves for not being productive enough.

My blogpost on trauma has been getting a lot of traffic. We are collectively going through a traumatising experience and it’s important to know where you can get the right kind of help.

If you would like to talk, please get in touch.

Image courtesy Javardh at Unsplash.

Eco-systems supervision group online: communities of practice

By Martin Vogel

In response to the COVID-19 emergency, Hetty Einzig and I are opening a new round of eco-systems supervision focussed on supporting practitioners through this time of personal and systemic turbulence. Here’s our invitation.

If you are a coach or practitioner whose work involves supporting people, we invite you to join this online programme of group supervision sessions.

Our innovative approach fosters awareness of the eco-systems in which we are located and the influence we can bring to bear on them as individuals. It encourages an integration of our identities as practitioners and citizens. Continue reading “Eco-systems supervision group online: communities of practice”

How to heal polarisation

By Martin Vogel

As part of my recent research into how coaches are engaging with the political sphere, I interviewed a US-based coach, John Schuster, who teaches on coach training programmes at Columbia University and the Hudson Institute. The interview didn’t make the final cut of the published article because the editors wanted to focus on the discussion of coaching and climate change. But John’s work highlights a very different way that coaches can contribute to addressing some of society’s big challenges. John is tackling polarisation: using his coaching skills to bring together people across the Republican-Democrat divide.

A Democrat-supporter, he teamed up in 2016 with a coach who had voted for Donald Trump. They organised a conversation to which each invited three friends from their own side.

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Internal coaches need external supervisors

By Martin Vogel

It’s considered best practice among professional coaches that they work with a supervisor, someone who creates space for them to reflect on their work. But how common is this among internal coaches?

There’s a long tradition of supervision being provided to support people who support other people. It grew up as a discipline to help professionals such as psychotherapists, teachers and social workers. In the competitive market for professional coaches, savvy clients understand that they should only work with a coach who is supervised. Clients of internal coaches need this assurance just as much. As do people whose managers seek to lead with a coaching style.

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How to work with a coach

By Martin Vogel

coffee

This series of blog posts guides you through the whole process of working with a coach from identifying why you might need one through to ending a coaching relationship elegantly. If you engage a coach, bookmark this page and keep referring to it throughout your engagement.

  1. Why use a coach?
  2. What do you want from coaching?
  3. How do you find a coach?
  4. Meeting a prospective coach
  5. Agreeing terms with your coach
  6. Your first session with a coach
  7. Working with your coach
  8. Your work between coaching sessions
  9. If your coaching isn’t going well
  10. When it’s time to finish coaching

Image courtesy Joshua Ness on Unsplash.

Coaching is political

By Martin Vogel

Coaching has been practised to support leadership for a few decades now. But the mismatch between leaders’ impact and the challenges we face as a society has never seemed greater.

Look, for example, at the paralysis over how to manage climate change. Politicians and executives seem clueless, or unwilling to engage in strategies that can help bring about the radical changes required to mitigate predicted disaster scenarios. The question here is how the coaching profession can engage with the climate emergency – only one of the complex political issues that shape the context in which we encounter our clients. The mismatch between the scale of these tasks and the quality of leadership with which the world can tackle them is a call for coaches to critically review our impact and responsibilities. Continue reading “Coaching is political”

A country gone wrong

By Martin Vogel

The Britain that leaves the European Union tonight is not the same country that voted to leave on 23rd June 2016. The result was a shock, but it was still possible then to imagine that the Government would help the country process it in a mature way and facilitate the emergence of a consensus about how to discharge the mandate. Indeed, in that alarming period when we were a hair’s breadth from the Conservative Party giving us Andrea Leadsom as prime minister, such appeal as Theresa May held was chiefly that she might approach Brexit in a way that could elicit losers’ consent. These hopes were soon dispelled by her speeches to the Conservative conference disparaging “citizens of nowhere” speech and charting a course to a uncompromisingly hard Brexit (a course, it subsequently emerged, she did not understand she was embarking on).

“No state in the modern era has committed such a senseless act of self-harm,” The Irish Times opined yesterday. It spoke of Britain becoming poorer, diminished on the international stage and its citizens’ freedoms curtailed.

All true. But we have lost more than our participation in the European Union and the benefits that flow from that. We have abandoned the norms and etiquette of respectful disagreement, evolved over centuries, which gave substance to our sense of ourselves as a society founded on democracy and the rule of law. From the hasty rush to start the Article 50 countdown with no clear destination in mind, to the demonisation of the judges as “enemies of the people”, the suspension of Parliament and the intimidation of MPs (which began, let us remember, with the murder of one of their number in the days before the Referendum), this has felt like a country recklessly flirting with the darkest of forces.

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Navigating trauma in coaching

By Martin Vogel

The practice of coaching deals with more darkness than is often acknowledged. From my earliest days as a coach, I have encountered people who are navigating significant difficulty in life. Trauma is a subject not easily broached in coaching. Clients and coaches often assume this is the terrain of therapy and are fearful of going there.

But trauma is widely prevalent. For many of us, our traumas may well be be reactivated by some of the questions currently playing out in society – the climate crisis, coronavirus, Brexit, to name a few. Coaches and clients alike are affected by these developments and their learned adaptations to trauma may well influence not just how they respond to things from day to day but also how the coaching relationship plays out. The question is not whether to consider trauma in coaching but how.

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Tuning into the cascade of experience

By Martin Vogel

I’ve written before about the stirring voice work of Nadine George. My introduction to the work last year has turned out not to be an isolated encounter but the beginning of an exploration that I suspect I might pursue for some time. Most recently, I joined a two-day workshop in Glasgow with a group of people with varying levels of experience in the method – from decades to none. Nadine’s work continues a tradition begun by Alfred Wolfsohn and developed by Roy Hart. If voice work conjures for you a technical exercise in projecting one’s voice, this is much more than that. It is a journey in giving voice to aspects of one’s self that don’t easily find expression. It’s a form of self-development that takes effect remarkably quickly. If my initial work with Nadine touched me profoundly, the opportunity to practise with a group penetrated to a further level of depth.

It’s harder to write about a group experience than about a lesson on my own. My experience is wrapped up with that of everyone else. It’s not just mine to share. So this piece is published with the consent of the others.

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