The coach's presence - and the leader's results

I’ve had a brilliantly stimulating conversation with Gestalt psychotherapist and corporate consultant Gilead Yeffett about ego and how not to get in the client’s way.  Simply by being there, in the room with the client, as coach or therapist or consultant, we impose our ego – whether by directing the conversation via the next question we ask, offering an interpretation, offering a particular exercise or experiment, or picking up on this or that point that the client makes. Gilead and I began to explore this in the context of a co-creative relationship, which is both his and my approach, and which in my experience brings a richness to the results that emerge: it not only reinforces the resilience of the relationship (so that it becomes ever-more able to seed results) but it also equips the client to create their own results in their own world, on an ongoing basis.

And yet it’s not at all simple to co-create and get out of the client’s way! I was intrigued by Gilead’s experiment (following a suggestion by Gaie Houston) around asking no questions at all in a session with a client, but focusing on his presence instead.  That’s a tough one for a therapist or a coach!  It got me thinking (again) about my presence as executive coach and the value that brings through the leader experiencing a non-judgmental connection within which they can think autonomously about risky, creative stuff in a safe environment – stuff which can lead to pervasive, transformational  change from the top of an organisation: the leader has changed and they therefore impact differently on the level below and alongside and above them, who impact on the level below them, who impact on customers and suppliers too….

Another conversation I had today, with an HR Director, was focused on his organisation’s drive to demonstrate a return on investment from executive coaching which links directly (and ideally rapidly) to the bottom line.  How challenging it is to trace a straight line from the leader’s experience of their relationship with their executive coach – or a corporate consultant like Gilead – through what that enables in terms of releasing the leader’s capabilities, on through the systemic changes and shifts that happen because the leader is changing and shifting, and straight to the bottom line. Is it even possible? Is an alternative rather some kind of systemic map? And what sense would that make to the CFO tracking return on investment?

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