What do you focus on when you are coaching? Since Carl Rogers’ ‘Person-Centred’ approach was first circulated in the 1940’s, many coaches and professional people-helpers have been encouraged to focus entirely on their client. Often coaches might begin the relationship with questions such as ‘what would you like to talk about?’, or ‘what would you like to gain from coaching?’ This approach ensures that the coach is well placed to support the needs of their client; we are there to support them as individuals.

Orson Wells may have said ’We are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone’, but is this true? People are not islands. We exist as part of teams, organisations, families, tribes and societies. How we see ourselves is undoubtedly influenced by how we are perceived by our neighbours and loved ones. We don’t move through the world as individuals, but as people who operate within an array of systems and networks. We are shaped by the culture we live and work in, and through our decisions and interactions, we shape that culture.

In ‘Systemic Coaching’ (2020), Peter Hawkins and Eve Turner focus on the need the coaches to explore with their clients how they part of systems and indeed eco-systems. Rather than only exploring the needs of the client, the authors urge coaches to consider how they might best serve the organisation the client is part of, the communities they work and live within, and to engage with the problems they are battling with. They present a useful 7 level model to help coaches think more systematically:

Focus 1:  The coachee’s work and life challenges

Focus 2: The coachee’s actions, behaviours and interventions

Focus 3: The coachee’s relationships with their stakeholders

Focus 4:  The coachee’s though processes and internal world

Focus 5: The coaching relationship

Focus 6: The coach’s self-reflections

Focus 7: The wider contexts; culture, stakeholders, social, ecological and economic context.

You will notice that Focus 1 through to 4 are client centred, and Focus 5 to 7 are a little more meta. The coaches’ own reflections and learning will be greatly aided by supervision, and this re-iterates the case for having professional supervision when one is working in a professional coaching capacity.

InPD will be examining systemic coaching on our accredited programmes, and we will be further researching and investigating emerging ideas in coaching, mentoring, and leadership more broadly via our Institute. We look forward to sharing these insights with you.


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