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.
I was reading a speech by Jack Valenti, who worked for LBJ and then served as President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. The speech was given in 1996, to the Federal Communications Bar Association. (one of the many terrific speeches in William Safire’s collection in Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History).
Here are a couple of quotes from the speech:
What does count, the only gauge, is whether you have “good judgment.”
I learned never to humiliate an antagonist and never desert a friend. In a political struggle, never get personal else the dagger digs too deep. Your enemy today may need to be your ally tomorrow.
The speech has much more to say, about leadership especially. If you have Safire’s book, this speech is worth your time.