Vogel Wakefield newsletter, March 2015
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Bringing coaching into the 21st Century

We're just about to start a big project in the higher education sector, so just time to get out a quick update from Vogel Wakefield before it consumes us.

We sometimes think coaching is stuck in a 20th Century view of organisations. We want to bring it into the 21st, freed of some of the constraints of managerial thinking and mechanistic views of how organisations work. Thinking about what coaching looks like from a counter-consultancy point of view, we hold a more nuanced view of our role than simply helping leaders fulfil the objectives of their organisation. With the HSBC scandal in the news, we need little reminder that businesses are not very clear themselves about what they should be doing. We think its critically important to step back from the corporate agenda and bring some connection to how organisations are perceived in the world beyond. Organisations which stray realise too late how much their reputation is worth to them. They have an interest in enabling leaders to ground themselves in an ethical perspective. This draws on skills beyond those normally associated with coaching – including sociological, political and economic analysis – and a perspective on leaders as operating in a network rather than simply being part of a hierarchy. It also means helping leaders to know their own mind, not simply be subject to behavioural development. You can see how our thoughts are developing at our webpage on 
our coaching work. We'd appreciate your feedback.

Another thing we've been noticing is how people, particularly in smaller businesses, are busy not just being leaders but trying to keep up with the latest thinking. There's a great temptation in this position to cram one's head with information and seek to learn from experts. We've been encouraging people to see what happens if they try to restrain this impulse and recognise the huge amount of insight and expertise they already have. They are responding to this suggestion with some relief. We've developed a workshop which provides a taster of what this might mean in practice. Let us know if you'd like us to bring it to your workplace or if you'd like to attend an open version.

From the Vogel Wakefield blog

All organisations tend to the dysfunctional in their own way. Time for a critical perspective.
Finding stillness enables us to defamiliarise ourselves from our default modes of thinking. How coaching lifts the spirit.
Dying well is more important than preventing death. Atul Gawande draws on coaching to help the dying depart elegantly.
Read more at the Vogel Wakefield blog.

What we're reading

Martin's reading

  • Havel: A Life by Michael Žantovský. A readable biography of the late Czech president, playwright and former dissident. It's a striking portrait of moral leadership, compromised by office, but all the more admirable for that.
  • Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. A mystery story told from the perspective of an elderly lady suffering from dementia. Sad and demonstrates how hard it is to get into the minds of people suffering this condition.

Mark's reading

  • The Confessions by St. Augustine. Extraordinary, self-revealing, self-lacerating book by one of the great intellectuals of western civilisation.  For all his honesty, Augustine comes across as a man who was never reconciled to his own heart.
  • Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey. A seriously clever and thoughtful (if at times repetetive) application of Marxist analysis to our current situation.  I was reminded, if I needed to be, of Marx’s unique ability to understand the dynamics of the system.
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