Discover more from Like person, like coach by Iacob Bacian
'23 Weeknotes #13: Good-Enough Coach
You are reading ‘Like person, like coach’, a newsletter at the intersection of personal narrative and relational, integrative, anti-oppresive coaching practice.
‘It is impossible not to manipulate in coaching, so use this as a beneficent tool. Reciprocal influencing is inevitable wherever people meet in a coaching or other social context.’
- Max Visser, Coaching Relationships
I used to listen to Alabaster de Plume a lot. They’re a poet, musician and artist that captured me with their words, poetry and authenticity on stage. A few years back I was reading an interview with them in a newspaper. The interviewer was asking questions about their art and the impact they thought they were having on people. I’m paraphrasing now but I remember being struck by what they said which was something along the lines of ‘this work will impact different people differently, and I can’t assume that that will always be a positive experience.’ This stayed with me.
I think a lot about the kind of impact I have in my coaching sessions. I used to worry a lot in the beginning about harm and causing it. And then along the way I started learning about the two-way dynamic of harm in a profession in which it’s impossible not to get close, to care, to be impacted and to impact.
I write notes after each session and then come back to them a few days later and write some more after I’ve had a chance to settle. I go back over different moments of the a coaching session and unpick the different layers of emotion, intention, enquiry that interweave between coach and client. In sessions, I try to hold the different pathways the conversation could go and in the moment make sure I choose as well as I can what I say next. There is a lot of thought and after-thought that goes into reflective practice.
I always come back to the reason I coach: because I care that people have a voice and can use it to contribute to the world.
I’m having to constantly let go of my perfectionist streak as I need to learn to accept that as a coach I come with a life history, specific work experience, biases, values and principles that undoubtedly have and will continue to shape the coaching conversations I have with people. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s more than okay because maybe I’m an okay influence.
The same goes the other way around: coaches are influenced by clients all the time. It’s sort of the perk of the job, and I’ve had the privilege to work with people who’ve left a lasting mark on how I think and behave, turning me into a stronger and more honest person in my work and beyond.
So what makes a good-enough coach? For me I think it’s some of the following:
1. Someone who is willing to be a learner for the rest of their lives and definitely their coaching practice;
2. Unafraid to admit when they get it wrong and to do the repair work necessary to address what happened;
3. Informed and actively staying up-to-date with industry standards, training and innovation within the coaching community and beyond;
4. Is as present they can be in coaching sessions, responsive and working in partnership with the client,
5. Being willing to let the client lead on content and take the lead when necessary, invited or beneficial to the work;
6. Actively seeks to understand their role in racism, misogyny, ableism, etc and works to become better able to navigate these conversations in a coaching context;
7. Is aware of own system of values, world-view and politics and how this influences their presence in coaching sessions with people with similar or different worldviews;
8. Is willing to do their own inner work and have a foundational understanding of their personality, behavioural patterns, relational habits and how these might influence how they build coaching relationships;
9. Seeks opportunites to learn from others, coaches, mentors, supervisors, tutors, colleagues, people outside the coaching industry;
10. Being a believer in people, their growth, their ability to create incredible things and lives.
Writing this list helps me stay grounded and let go of perfectionism. I hope it does so for you, too. What’s on your list?
This week I’m thinking about:
+ Collective Care: ‘There’s always enough time for the right work.’ - adrienne maree brown; many thanks to Ali Brumfitt who lead a set of incredible workshops at NEON;
+ White Men: What’s Next?, Jamie is an incredible host and I recommend this group to any white man keen to find other people serious about anti-racism and anti-sexism;
+ Relational Coaching courses at Ashridge Centre for Coaching look fantastic 👀.
If you enjoy reading Like Person, Like Coach, please recommend it to others who might find useful, too. If you have feedback and suggestions on how I can deepen my learning please write me. I love to hear from the people who read, it makes me braver and it continues to remind me that learning is dialogical as much as I love a monogloue!
I’m iacob, an ICF Associate Certified Coach supporting social impact leaders to shift careers/roles and navigate cultural and structural shifts with anti-oppression as the driving force. I’m an Associate Coach with NEON, Know You More and Simply Coaching. I’m currently available for new coaching clients, roles and projects. Read more here and get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.