Critical Coaching Blog

Creative Writing for Coaches of all persuasions

I am delighted to announce that, following the successful pilot of the programme ‘Crafting my Coaching Story,’ that the Association for Coaching has agreed to host a second rendition of the same, beginning on 10th September 2021. The full details are as below.

The faculty for this programme is drawn almost exclusively from CCG members, including Daniel Doherty, Jen Gash, Chris Mabey, and Pippa Warin, supporting the estimable Julia Forster. The pilot was enjoyed by two of our number, who speak well of it. Please let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested in this by email at dandoh123@gmail.com, or if you simply want to know more about this.

The impetus behind this is to promote creative literacy among coaches. Sometimes the text that comes from our keyboards is all very worthy, and sometimes it reads as if drawn from a random buzzword generator. Let’s liven things up. There is little financial gain in this for the faculty; the rewards are rich, and largely non-monetary, including the learning gained from working together.

https://www.associationforcoaching.com/event/CraftingStory_SP

Wanting to coach ER doctors?

Sally Webber invites you to the following:

I’m helping organise some coaching for doctors as the move to high pressure jobs in the Emergency Department in hospital in Bath.I love coaching doctors as they’re all really bright, interested in learning and wanting to do the best job they can – which is tough at the moment!
Might be 20-25 of them who take up the offerWhich is:2 session x 60 minutes on Zoom / Teams, your preference, from mid August – end November (probably)Payment is £60 per session – so not great but not pro bono
This is a pilot for the hospital so we’ll expect to collect some feedback at the end from each client
If you are interested and have availablity can you email Sally Webber on sallywebber1234@gmail.com and let her know

Launching the Critical Coaching Blog

I guess there must come a time in every twenty-first century network’s life when the need for a blog becomes an inevitability, and not only for fashionable reasons. Launching this CCG blog feels kind of grown-up somehow, but it also feels down-with-the-kids. What the creation of this blog does reflect is the fact that the horrors of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have driven the CCG from being an in-person gathering to a becoming an online phenomenon. I am at this point resisting the urge to post up a screenshot of all our tiled faces on Zoom, just to prove it is true. But it is. 

I have to say that when lockdown descended on us in March 2020, I had to scrap all forward conference room bookings at our much loved Arnos Manor hotel, and ask booked speakers if they would mind doing their thing on line. This sudden switching of arrangements made me fearful, as I felt then that much of the value of our regular meetings lay in the opportunity to meet face-to-face, share chip sandwiches and flaccid salad, and munch over what provocations our visiting speakers had planted. I did not think that our members would take easily to this transition to a two-dimensional digital experience; nor did I think that the CCG would remain a priority on their minds, given all else that had been disrupted by the pandemic. 

I need not have worried. Far from the need for us to gather together going away, it became apparent that in the face of all of the challenges posed to our personal and professional lives, the wish to to get huddle in any form remained as strong as ever. In fact the move to online, in liberating the CCG from the geographical constraints posed by being locked into the Bristol location, has allowed us to draw upon a far wider range of speakers from across the world. And has attracted in new members who are more than happy to become a part of our group, without having to commit to making the far-flung trip to the South West of England, which as we all know is a two-days stage-coach ride away from London. And a one day ride from Exeter. 

At first, old stagers said that they were prepared to live with online presence as a somewhat second-best interim solution, while the lockdowns blew over and normal in-house services could resume. However, as our Zoom years have progressed, the nostalgic cries for a prelapsarian return to the container that is the Gallery Room have muted, replaced instead by an excitement at the new horizons online has revealed. For our new members who have known nothing else, then they have been happy enough with the online experience not only to sign-up for more of the same through to next year, but to invite their colleagues at similar career stages to come along too. I must say that it is most gratifying to learn that the culture of open inquiry and challenge while being supportive of each other has persisted into this new format. 

I anticipate, then, that as we progress into 2021 and beyond, that we will move towards a hybrid configuration, where regular monthly meetings will be augmented by a number of in-person gatherings a year to allow us to breathe the same air once more, and merrily kick over coffee cups strewn across the open-U circle of rickety chairs. But meanwhile I am delighted at the uptake of speaker invites from all over the world – my, how I am resisting with all my might and main the temptation to use that much-abused term ‘global’- and look forward to a rich and relational year together. 

So where does this blog fit in? Well, it is early days, but in addition to serving as a container for updates such as this current rambling, this blog also offers opportunities for the curating of offerings from members and speakers that they feel will be of interest to our members. These offerings are likely to be in written form, but could also be imagistic, in audio or video form, or free-form interpretative jazz. It is really up to you. Let me know if there is something you wish to post, great or small, and I will ensure that it gets up there. Looking forward to it. And welcome to the CCG Blog. 

Executive Coaches’ Gulag: AD 2025

Inside the Executive Coaches’ Gulag: AD 2025

Two older greying men pace their grim prison exercise yard, each solid inch of their stiff yellow pyjama suits emblazoned with every acronym known to coaching man. In their long moments of boredom, they sit in their solitary cells, shouting out an acronym or two into the void, in the hope that someone might hear them. Hoping that those now empty three-letter mantras would somehow resonate. Resonate. That was a word they used to use a lot, ad nauseam, in their former illustrious lives. Now the only resonation they hear is the clank of their metal slop-out buckets on the cold stone floor. 

 As they walk, they break into desultory conversation – pursuing a well-trodden conversational lament as circular as their grooved perambulation, always clockwise, around the yard.  

 Brian: How has it ever come to this? I never thought it would come to this. 

Michael: Me neither. But don’t you remember? Damned Hungarian Government started all of this back in 2021, with their Charlatans’ Law banning all talking therapies, including coaching, unless the practitioner were trained through a state institution and licenced by government. 

Brian: Goddam Hungarian despots.  But back then we shook our heads in faux pity, never thinking for one minute the Charlatans Law would spread like bush fire across the whole coaching planet. 

Michael: First, they came for the Hungarians … 

Brian: It’s true, they did … but it is hardly their fault, what happened next. We provoked all the western authorities by drawing attention to our attempts at coaching self-regulation. Which we boasted applied globally, enforced through our high-sounding Global Code of Ethics. Such hubris.  

Michael: What fools we were. They took a look at our verbose ordinances and decided they didn’t even apply in own backyards, never mind on a planetary basis … they called our self-regulation the ‘Hypocrites Charter.’

Brian: They did. On top of which, once we were caught in the headlights, they started to add up just how much all of us were creaming off clients – not to mention how we were shilling gullible coaches through our training schools and supervision scams, which had become a major revenue stream.  

Michael: Yep. Then they did the math and decided that they wanted a piece of our $25 billion dollar global pie 

Brian: Not just a slice of the pie chart – they wanted to gobble up the whole damn thing … and that 2021 pandemic allowed governments to act with complete disregard for business opposition.  

Michael: Truth …the more we protested, the harder they came down on us 

Brian: We should never have stirred up the Chinese…

Michael: And those Russian coaching double agents blowing the whistle on us all. 

Brian: I remember as if it were yesterday. Painful. The whole coaching circus came tumbling down. They rounded up us thought leaders first 

Michael: Yep, bags over our heads… 

Brian: Then the perp walk out of our colleges, in front of all of our fee-paying students

Michael: The shame of it. 

Brian: Then the rendition, here, to this gulag in unmarked military planes … we could be anywhere. 

Michael: Hmm. And after they had corralled all of us thought leaders, they came for the business school professors. Wiped the smug smile off their faces. 

Brian: They sure did, having smelled our blood first. They did quite a number of the professors under violation of the rushed-through Global Anti Confirmative Bias Law, the GACBL. 

Michael: Then they took over the business schools’ chrome and glass buildings, installing apparatchiks who would do their pedagogic bidding. Allowing them to practice in a world where all that is to be known about coaching is now fixed – and therefore would never need researching again. 

Brian: Yep. Then they counted up the coaching books and found there were as many authors as coaches, and toxic plagiarism was evident across the piece. 

 Michael: So, they invaded the libraries and bulldozed the lot, shut down whole categories of e-books, banished off social media and even the dark web.   

Brian: And at the same time, they closely scrutinised our claims on LinkedIn for the number of hours of executive coaching we had done. How I lived to rue all that braggadocio.   

Michael: Me too. I claimed 10,000 hours which meant 416 days which felt not so bad … but then they factorised that quantum by the number of letters after our names; which pushed me to 5,000 days, or 13 years. 

Brian: 13 years. `Hmm. Same me. I wish we hadn’t copied each other’s claims so blindly. 

Michael: Mimetic isomorphism? 

Brian: Shush, for god’s sake. You know we’re not allowed jargon anymore. The philistines’ eyes and ears are everywhere. But yes, we were forever trying to match and outdo each other.   

Brian and Michael exhale a collective sigh, as they lean on the chain fence of the thought leaders’ yard, gaze absently towards a more densely populated yard; the yard designated for junior thought-follower coaches, from whence occasional squeals of laughter ring out amid improvised games of basketball. 

Michael: Funny how the thought-followers are allowed to wear flowing gowns, isn’t it? 

Brian: Well, they are mainly women. And they were handed down lesser sentences than us … they claimed mitigation on the grounds that they were just obeying the orders laid down in their elder and betters’ competency grids. 

Michael: And in many ways they were simply doing that. Blindly following.  

Brian: Funny that we only have two women thought leaders in our wing and they are given special privileges? Like the Excessive Empathy Extraction programme? The EEE?

Michael: I know. I know. And they are let off the compulsory weekly salsa classes 

Brian: They are so humiliating, those salsa classes – where did the idea of that excruciating punishment come from anyway? 

Michael: Well, it all started when some enlightened thought leader said there were many parallels between salsa, at which he claimed to be an expert,  and coaching. So now we must practice it weekly, groin to groin. 

Brian: The weekly grind. Just to prove the analogy doesn’t work.They don’t half rub it in.

Michael: Making us rub together? It ain’t easy. 

Brian: Didn’t they use the same aversion therapy logic to deem that we have to suffer listening to free-form contemporary jazz through the corridor loud speakers 24 – 7? To prove that coaches need to know how to improvise?

 Michael: They did. Though you might look closer to home on that one?  Wasn’t it your business partner who drew the as-for-jazz, so-to-for-coaching read-across, in her book, ‘Blow your Coaching Trumpet’? 

Brian: Yes, it’s true. Fair cop. Stupid parallel processing.  

Michael: Did she ever withdraw the harassment charges, before you split? 

Brian: Never had the time – she scarpered quick and took a job in mental health nursing.

Michael: Well, it is brutal, what they are putting us through…but it may just be that their re-programming regime is working on us, drip by drip… 

Brian: You know, I think you may be right, reluctant though I am to admit it. I was awarded a Master of Correctional Competences by the warden last week, MCC. Felt good to be back among the prizes again – but of course I am not allowed to use the letters after my name. Not while inside anyway.  

Michael: Lucky you. And I was given a level one GROW award – Global Repudiation of Orthodox Wellness programmes. 

Brian: Well done – is that one of those twelve step things?

Michael: Yes!! And it feels so good to be back in the accreditation groove. 

Brian: What is your supervisor like? 

Michael: Awful — totally existential. 

Brian: Oh no – I have one of the Lacanian ones. Much more libidinous. 

Michael: Tell me more sometime. But hey, there goes the bell for lunch. That little Tibetan tinkle to goad us with echoes of a more symbolic life. 

Brian: Groan. This diet of conference nibbles and warm white wine is playing hell with my inners 

Michael: I know. But it’s the price we have to pay for years of freeloading at others expense.  

Brian: Feels like it is going to be a long afternoon. All alone, scratching my blog on the cell wall. 

Michael: Don’t get too doomy. It will serve well as your legacy, that blog will, for the next inmate to read and inwardly digest. He might even syndicate it for you. 

The Charlatan’s Law

The Charlatan’s Law
I was, to my great surprise, invited to the EMCC Global Conference last week, nestled  in on Zoom among over 500 eager beaming others. My main reason for being there was  to join a session on ‘Regulation,’ a choice which will come as no particular surprise to those that know me, as I have a number specific regulatory axes to sharpen with ‘professional’ bodies (or trade associations, as my wife Louise calls them.)


 In order to get into that juicy conversation, I was prepared to patiently sit on my hands through an opening presentation on ‘departures in regulation in Hungary,’ unfairly expecting to have to endure a glorious tale of awakening and inclusion by the Hungarian government of the coaches among them, affording them licence and legitimation on a hitherto unprecedented basis – perhaps just to show the rest of us?


How wrong could I have been? Far from learning of the permissive issuing of licences to operate on a universal scale, I heard instead of an opposite trajectory. I heard of a shocking State Directive entitled ‘The Charlatan’s Law.’  This law stated  that no-one other than those with state approved ‘talking therapy’ qualifications, gained though a recognised Hungarian university, could put any professional designation after their names save the state approved ones. Nor could they practice in any form, or run a coach training school under threat that they would inevitably be discovered. And the penalty for violating either of these injunctions against designation or practice? One year in prison. No grace period was permitted on the enacting of this law, and no discussion allowed.

As you might imagine, alarm bells rang throughout the coaching and therapeutic communities in Hungary, who were forced into all sorts of defensive manoeuvres to tackle this draconian move, some of which have proven marginally successful.

 
I am not writing here to go any further into this case study, compassionately though I feel for our Hungarian comrades . Amid all the sharp intakes of breath evoked by this saga, I was left hypothesising how it might be if, by some mighty global swing of a regulatory axe, all talking therapy were forbidden across the entire planet until they could prove their efficacy.  The problem of charlatans proliferating through the pandemic and through digitisation would be dealt with in a heartbeat, as would the problematic task of deciding who is worthy and who is not. ‘Professional bodies’ and their parasitic adjunct colleges would exist no longer, unless they were rebuilt from the ground up on the soundest of theoretical bases, and taught and assessed by those who could be trusted to do the same, unencumbered by commercial imperatives. Underground coaching resistance cells might form, tunnels dug, pamphlets stuck under doors, secretive one-on-ones in public toilet blocks …


The possibilities continue to intrigue me.  I day-dream of LinkedIn coaching communities being subject to such scorched-earth treatment. Whole categories of practice stripped bare of most of their content, obliterated at a stroke. All post-nominals strung after their name now gone. Only birth names visible, now that the professionalising tide has gone out, with many left shivering-cold and exposed, leaving only those with legitimate doctoral and masters designations, and other stringent practice requirements standing proudly on the beach, while others retreat, cowering with fear. 


Where would prospective clients turn from now on, if indeed they were inclined to turn anywhere at all? Would clients themselves be imprisoned for being so perverse as to be prepared to pay for help?  How would coaches explain this draconian turn to themselves and to their families, with all work gone and all those years of investment in training courses and supervisions proven utterly worthless? What if family and friends said to these beleaguered souls, ‘I told you, I told you .. I saw this coming along but you wouldn’t listen.’

Might world governments set up gulag prisons for transgressive executive coaches, where they would be required to stamp number plates rather than CPD certificates?  Would these sorry souls be stopped from tapping out professional acronyms to each other on the prison pipework? Might families smuggle in the URLs of self-improvement Youtube sites, or even microchipped competency frameworks?  Would we find, in the face of all this, that the culture of the prisoners association slumps from aspirations towards community actualisation to the bottom end of the hierarchy of needs in about three days flat, as they each scramble to gain purchase on the last scrap of  stale crust?
Time to stop, but this sad volte-passe has exercised me mightly, not least in reminding me how fragile the whole stage-set of coaching practice is. Oh, and I met a celebrity coach who is a self-proclaimed millionaire. 

Professor Reinhart Stetler 07 06 2021

The coach as a fellow human companion

I know we are really looking forward to our virtual session with Reinhart. His name has been on our lips on and off for the past few years – it will be marvellous to have him among us to disabuse us – probably – of all we thought we knew.

Reinhart has asked me to share ahead of time this paper of his … intriguingly entitled, ‘the coach as fellow human companion.’

Dr Christine Eastman 17 06 2021 – Literature as a way into leadership insight

We are delighted to be welcoming Christine back among us again to plunder the rich seams of North American literature. This time around we will be working with the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthone . Please find attached three things. One a copy of the whole novel, generously gifted by Christine. An excerpt that we will be working with from that novel. and an explanatory piece taking us through the exercise we will be running through on the day. Please, please do the homework – it will massively enrich our session.

Dr Peggy Marshall – Cross-Cultural coaching

So many thanks to Peggy for getting up early from her Californian slumbers to take us through two schools of thought regarding the importance of national or regional culture in crafting our coaching approach. She then left us to do battle between the two schools – that is to say it hardly matters to it matters hugely. Please find below copies of the Global Mindset Survey and Peggy’s Slideshow.

Summiting – the coaching heights – an audio

Summiting, The Celebrity Coaches’ Way: A Letter from America. 

Daniel Doherty 

April 2021

Peter Doig

While absent-mindedly browsing Linkedin recently – in my ongoing pursuit of examples of the credential claims made by coaches – I stumbled across an invite to a WBCS webinar entitled, ‘“Reimagine the Future of Coaching” … with four thought leaders’. Keen to learn some things – including as to how coaching might have been ‘imagined’ in the first place – I thought it might be worthwhile dropping by this piece of theatre; while at the same time checking out the credentials of these thought leaders on Linkedin. I felt sure, at the back of my mind, that I had heard of WBCS before – ‘World Executive Business Coaches Summit’ – but it was hard to locate it among the blizzard of coaching bodies and networks that clamour for attention in my ageing memory. This acronym triggered an association with the WBC – the World Boxing Council – whose forlorn job it is to unify the various boxing bodies. In mirroring the acronym of this older WBC, it might well be that the WBCS is subconsciously admitting to the impossibility of coaching ever unifying its constituent bodies either. While aspiring towards a summit. 

This audio podcast thing captures the whole Letter from America