Sara here: I have gotten some response to the post I offered about coaching. I’ve offended some and for that, I apologize. That is why this is titled “apology/apologia.” It is to say that I am sorry for causing reaction – and I would offer my argument to support what I believe about coaching with all sincerity.
I used the term “judgement” and that was a poor choice of words. Let me be clear that I didn’t mean that anyone was “judgmental” in working with other people. Language is a tricky thing. I suspect we often don’t communicate by speaking the same language.
Let me take another run at this. I was talking about the relationship that should exist between a coach and a client. I firmly believe that a coach has the responsibility to remain neutral toward client and client’s situation. A coach’s responsibility is to assess rather than vote. I substitute vote for judgement because I mean taking a position (rather than being judgmental). By refusing to take a position, the coach can be curious about the effectiveness of a client in ways that are outside the coach’s experience. Language does make creating the distinction challenging.
By the way – there are weaknesses in the world and in people, no denying. However, the job of the coach is not in the area of weakness. What differentiates a coach from other helping professions is that they to assess how the client sees themselves, help them expand their perspectives and open clients up to their own blind spots. Ergo, the difference between fixing what’s broken vs discovering new paths. In fact, in the world of neuropsychology: the work of Daniel Goleman, David Rock and others is reinforcing this understanding of coaching and its effectiveness in helping people change…creating new neuropathways rather than trying to redirect old ones.
Cheryl offers: Whether you read about a teenager who has committed suicide in the local paper or in a magazine, see the efforts of state legislatures as they move to put new laws in place, or listen to a friend tell you about a child they know who has experienced the effects of bullying, the topic seems to be everywhere today. I can tell you from personal experience, this isn’t a new phenomena; especially among teenagers because I was a victim of it myself many years ago. It can start over the most trivial topic, like who a student votes for in a class election. That’s how mine started. It took one person’s whisper to another to set off a chain of events that made my senior year in high school a living hell. Here’s the advice I would offer anyone considering addressing this social crime. The persons involved in my situation escalated their violent behaviors to the point of being abusive spouses many years later. Left untreated, teenagers who participate in this hurtful behavior may, and likely will, resort to more violence. It’s not just a matter of punishing someone; both the offended and the offenders need emotional support and therapy. While there is no objective measure of kindness or cruelty, the results of their impact are measurable. This brings me to my favorite topic: leadership. In my case, one of the teenagers who helped escalate and ensure the ongoing bullying was considered a leader. As Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee point out in Primal Leadership, “Leaders who spread bad moods are simply bad for business – and those who pass along good moods help drive a business’s success.” Bottom line: Bullies are bad for society and business. We need to address them at all ages.
Cheryl’s view: It seems Jack Welch should play more golf and resist the temptation of making speeches. On July 21 the Wall Street Journal reported he delivered what I’m sure he thought was “straight talk” like he thinks he did in his book, Straight from the Gut. He told a convention of HR executives women had to choose between raising a family and having the corner office. Which rock have you been hiding under Jack? Maybe he forgot that last year’s CEO of the year as elected by peer CEOs, was Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, and mother of two sons. And I supposed he also hasn’t noticed Mulcahy passed the reins to the first Afro-American woman to lead an S&P 100 company, Ursula Burns, and (Oh, gasp Jack!) also happens to have a daughter and stepson. When Jack Welch entered the workforce and even possibly when he led General Electric, this might have been a “norm”, possibly his own stereotype at work. This is no longer the case. Jack might also want to start reading the stats on graduating MBAs; women in 2009 will surpass men in all categories: associate, bachelor, graduate and professional. By the way, the gap between men and women has been widening since 1982, the last year men exceeded women in acquiring degrees, in college degrees and is projected to continue until 2017, which is only as far as the projection goes. So, where will the most talented, experienced, and well educated people in the company come from, the future CEOs? My money is on the next generation of women, who, by the way, believe the wisdom of his other book’s title “Control Your Own Destiny, or Someone Else Will.” Thanks for the advice, Jack, now go play golf.
Sara adds: Jack, in the words of James Copeland, former Chairman and CEO of Deloitte & Touche worldwide in True Leaders (Bette Price and George Ritchesche), “Don’t breath your own exhaust.” Your pronouncement in the Journal is contemptible (a carefully chosen word from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary… “contemptible may imply any quality provoking scorn or a low standing in any scale of value.” The italics are mine). I believe your comments to be contemptible; having a low standing in any scale of value on a couple of levels. First level, you single out women leaders. Besides being transparently biased your idea begs the question, why shouldn’t ALL leaders, men and women, have the opportunity to have a life as well as incredibly successful careers? Then there’s the next level. It’s about BUSINESS RESULTS, Jack, not about appearances or sacrifice. By even uttering that comment I wonder if you’ve lost focus on the prize here. Jack, you should read a new Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership (Richard Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman). It stands your antiquated version of leadership on its ear. In the article you will read about the negative impact a leader’s stressed lifestyle has on the success of the company they lead. The authors also provide a pathway to leadership that is healthy, balanced and produces great (get that, Jack, GREAT) business results. I wonder what heights GE could have climbed if YOU had been a different kind of leader.