Change is situational...

Change is situational...

sometimes slow, sometimes difficult, but always requiring movement.

sometimes slow, sometimes difficult, but always requiring movement.

Change is situational. Transition on the other hand is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-definition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes in your life.1

These are the words of William Bridges, an American organisational consultant. I was drawn to his words through the reference to systems; his understanding that change is a process, sometimes slow, sometimes difficult, but always requiring movement.

As executive coaches, the number one request is how to help a client to engage with and achieve change, naturally, the starting point for that process varies from client to client. One of the frameworks that we have added recently to our coaching portfolio is the Ladder of Intersectionality, which explores competing identities and links it to system and role.

Often the language of intersectionality is referred to or understood as the discourse of race and gender, which is where it began, introduced by Kimberly Crenshaw to highlight a particular problem that applied equally to an employee who was able to progress due to the crossover between her race and her gender. It is, however, far more sophisticated concept as it engages not only with race and gender but with the relationship between race and sexuality; sexuality and ability; or sexuality, gender and religion. It could also be the intersection of being a single-parent who is disabled, which is affecting performance, or ability to manage effectively. Intersectionality challenges the notion that it is always possible to privilege one aspect of identity over another, which creates a tension in the employee. Using the Ladder of Intersectionality, we can further explore this premise and suggest that it’s not only identity that is fluid, but the context and that the ability to “change” as Bridges suggests is also “situational”.

The challenge for coaches is to understand and explore the presenting issue through a number of different lenses, that can get to the root of the problem and allow the client to move forward effectively in their work context. Understanding these issues is beneficial not just for the individual, as stated in the Harvard Business Review: Many employees may feel the need to be cautious about bringing all aspects of their identity to the workplace. In some cases, this is warranted. However, it is important to remember that hiding important aspects of oneself can sometimes be more damaging.2

It has also been proved that there is a direct revenue benefit for the organisation if it is able to engage with diverse talent: High performing companies recognize that diverse perspectives can strengthen their performance, and that homogeneity can cause blind spots (as with a team of right-handed YouTube engineers who realized 10% of videos were being uploaded upside-down because they hadn’t considered how left-handed users would manoeuvre their phones).3

The key to this change is to create a space for individuals to be able to speak about themselves openly and know that they will be accepted, that the energy used to hide particular characteristics would then be focussed on delivering at work.

Executive coaching equips managers to be able to support their colleagues, for the benefit of the whole system. Our modular residential training course: Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development equips coaches to work with these managers in ways that are underpinned by theories and models of real substance yet are eclectic and fluid enough to address the wide range of issues that will confront the senior manager.

We are now inviting applicants for the next cohort of the Certificate in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development. For more details, including module dates, fees and venue or if you have any questions, please contact Anabel Navarro: a.navarro@tavinstitute.org, Professional Development Executive Assistant.

Coreene Archer is a Director of the Tavistock Institute’s courses in Coaching for Leadership and Professional Development.

[1] William Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes
[2] Afra Ahmad, Isaac Sabat Eden King, Research: The Upsides of Disclosing Your Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Parental Status at Work

[3] Dorie Clark and Christie Smith, Help Your Employees Be Themselves at Work  

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