A panoptic vision for interesting times!
With the apparent turmoil of the modern world, rendered more immediate and alarming by the sheer speed of communication across the globe, we are truly living in ‘interesting times’ as the apocryphal Chinese curse has it. From time to time we may wonder whether our leaders are up to the task and where they seek solace and advice: sometimes we are disturbed to discover their vulnerability and fallibility, as in the case of Ronald Reagan reportedly consulting his wife Nancy’s astrologer or Churchill taking refuge in large quantities of alcohol.
In themselves the vulnerability and fallibility shouldn’t concern us – ‘to err is human’ after all – as long as we can have some faith in their capacity to acknowledge the need for help and to identify and secure wise advisors. We know that this is not always the case – astrologers apart, we have the evidence of group-think, as in the case of the rigorously homogenised group that promoted the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba; we know, too, that a substantial subset of leaders suffer from narcissistic personality disorders which may make it difficult for them to accept: challenges to their policies; the opinions of those who are radically different or indeed anyone who may have a perspective that conflicts with their norm. We may also wonder what training or experience in leadership many of our heads of government or CEOs may have.
The Italians have a wonderful word – dietrologia – the science of ‘what is behind’, ie conspiracies, hidden agendas, shadowy figures like the eminence grise, Cardinal Richlieu, and in the present day, slightly Mephistophelian characters such as Peter Mandelson or Alastair Campbell, credited with a good deal of behind-the-scenes power. We may speculate as to the nature of their influence.
In the corporate world, there are similar concerns about the role, agenda and even the professionalism of the coach, a curiosity about the coaching encounter and the degree to which this third party is directing policy and implementation behind the scenes. There is a growing awareness of the need for coaches to be trained not only in the craft skills of questioning, listening, hypothesising but in the range of ideas, theories, perspectives and techniques that illuminate and inform the interpretation of the client’s situation and the client her/himself. And coaching itself is a powerful form of leadership development.
Above all, leadership coaching requires this breadth of vision: the leader has to be aware of cultural and unconscious factors; needs to know his/her own strengths, biases and vulnerabilities; and has to be able to take the panoptic view. And the coach in question has to be self-reflective and self-knowledgeable, aware of their own agendas and utterly ethical in their approach.
These issues informed the creation of the Tavistock’s Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development and have continued to shape the course as it has evolved over 9 years, often with the help of participants. As practising coaches with international clients, the Directors, Tavistock CEO, Eliat Aram and James Mackay, keep in touch with prevailing issues in organisations and the global context – and that is part of the reason why the course has attracted participants from leading companies and institutions in eighteen countries across four continents. With a repertoire that is both wide and profound, alumni of the course are able to coach across a range of disciplines and sectors and engage with the full spectrum of issues that leaders encounter.
James Mackay, Course Director and Founder
For a brochure for the Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development 2016 and more details of the module dates, fee and venue or if you have any questions, please contact Rachel Kelly: Professional Development Coordinator, email@example.com.