Monday, April 30, 2012

In Defense of Corporations

This post is inspired by a coaching conversation I had recently about the evil that corporations do and the potentially questionable ethics of carrying on a corporate career that could be seen as collusive with this evil. This is a worthy question, and one I have mulled over often in my more than 2 decades in global corporations. 

I am of the opinion that corporations, like hammers are neutral tools, capable of good and evil in the hands of good or ill-intentioned wielders. The fact is that most all corporations are simultaneously producing good and bad ends at least unintentionally, if not intentionally, and that can be said of most all things in the cosmos. This fact, conjured the thought that corporations need defending, on one hand against the assumptions that they are inherently evil, and on another hand against the evil they do when there are not enough powerful, influential well-intentioned players at the corporate decision-making table

Corporations have their merits & demerits. They have enabled more wealth creation, personal/professional development, etc., for a greater number of people (to wit, our middle class) to a greater degree than any force in history. They have also been behind some of the most devastating occurrences of human-inflicted harm to other humans and the environment seen in history. Because corporations have so much power to do good and evil, it is important that they have good people in and around them to defend them against the evil they might otherwise do.

For this reason I encourage those who have corporate expertise to stay in the game, both inside and adjacent the corporate as forms of light and salt to both keep clean and  preserve the cultures and intentions of corporations. I get that corporate life can be demoralizing, ethically ambiguous, unfair, unreasonable, confusing, etc., and that such triggers thoughts of escape for most of us. That said, if we can adopt an approach where we connect our corporate work to personal meaning and societal purpose, versus ego aggrandizement & lifestyle elevation, we can recommit to defending corporations and influence them to be a greater good, than evil, in the world

I have, for a number of years, deliberately worked to get more clear and deliberate about what industries, disciplines, situations, problems and purposes, I want to focus my energy on. I have targeted those corporations whose raison d'ĂȘtre, going beyond making profit, resonates with me. Working in those corporations are more satisfying as I know that my work in helping the corporation is helping achieve the purposes I want to see in myself and the world. 

This is not to say that corporations are perfect but to say that they are really good tools for positively touching the lives of lots of people when used in the proper way. I am blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to that as well as to be a change agent and influencer to keep it from as much evil as might result if I were not there. And, by the way, even when I leave the inside of the corporation, I intend to use my experience and influence to continue to develop ethical servant leaders who defend corporations from evil.

I encourage us all to choose our corporate defender role and play it well. Whether as inside manager, leader, contributor, influencer, innovator and change agent, or as outside consultant, influencer, stakeholder, accountability agent, or regulator-legislator. All these role are useful in defending corporations by balancing their power, maintaining their ethical agenda, and maximizing their ethically profitable performance. 

Effective defending to us all!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Love (Organizational) Politics! And you should too!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

What Professional Coaching Is Not?

Along with understanding what coaching is, as I wrote about in a prior post, it is just as critical to understand how coaching is unlike other helping modalities like mentoring, consulting, therapy, friendship, and even sports coaching. With this understanding, we can be sure to engage a coach to play the right role in our lives as well as to have the right expectations. Note that while coaching techniques can be utilized in any one of these roles, the role of a coach is formally distinct from each of these roles. 

Let me summarize.

1. Coaching is unlike mentoring & consulting in that coaches do not give advice from their past experience or current knowledge, but rather facilitate the client's advising themselves through various techniques of questioning, listening, affirmation and validation. A core assumption of coaching is that the client has their own answers and needs an en-courage-ing non-judgmental space within which to surface those answers. 

2. Coaching is unlike therapy in that coaches work with clients on achieving future optimal being, thinking and action, versus the healing of past wounds whose result are current emotional, psychological and relational imbalances. Professional coaches are not trained therapists though they are trained to identify situations where referral to therapy is appropriate.  Coaches may even work in tandem with a client and therapist in appropriate cases.  

3. Coaching is unlike friendship in that coaches are unencumbered with the agenda of being liked or accepted, but rather hold the client's agenda of having the result they want in their lives. This freedom allows the coach to be transparent in facilitating the client's planning, honest and credible in the client's affirmation, and unrelenting in holding the client accountable for execution.

4. Professional coaching is unlike sports coaching in that coaches focus on the creation of win/win scenarios and results in the client's life, while sports coaches, classically focus on win/lose outcomes, and for good reason. On a field of battle, one must win and render their opponent a lose, however on the field of life, one has the greater choice of rendering their stakeholder, even if an opponent, a winner also. This is the result that coaching looks  to facilitate to the degree the client is willing. 

As you can see, these are rather simple, but key, distinctions to be considered as you think about the role of a coach in your life and business.

If you want to talk more about this topic and how coaching might work for you, please reach to me at

Be well and blessed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Coaching: What Is It? What's In It For You?

I have been a practicing coach for a over a decade now, and recently, at the encouragement of many of you reading this, entered iPEC Coaching School to up my game and earn my professional certification, as I look forward to impacting the society and world to a greater degree via this calling for the rest of my life. It has been so interesting to me that for most of the time I have been coaching, in the past, I have not been coaching but rather mentoring and consulting. Sigh!

What I have learned is the distinction between coaching and other helping modalities, friendship, mentoring, consulting and therapy, all of which may contain elements of coaching but which are not purely coaching.

I have learned that a coach is someone retained to provide: 

1) a non-judgmental, non-advising space for listening to the wishes and plans of the client, 

2) affirmation & validation of the client's plans and progress in execution of those wishes & their corresponding plans, 

3) examination of barriers to the execution of the client's plans and 

4) accountability for continued forward movement in execution of the client's plans, and especially in times of discouragement, breakdown and internal & external resistance. 

As I have practiced this stricter coaching model, I have been continually gratified by clients' expression of this process' impact on their clarity of thinking, sense of affirmation, relaxation, hopefulness and commitment to having certain results in their lives and organizations. These effects on client-leaders result in influential change in themselves, and by extension, their families, teams, organizations, networks, and society, that the world needs badly. This is important for we are all damaged whenever any one of our potential is not realized, and I see coaching as discipline which can make significant impact in reducing this damage.

By the way, I am looking for leaders and leadership teams to work with, and especially those who are challenged with influencing and implementing significant change. You know where to reach me if you need me. In the meantime, whether with me or some other coach, I encourage you think about coaching to help you towards a greater degree of your own potential.

Be well and blessed! :-)

Monday, April 09, 2012

Is it a Prison or a Bridge? What are your Transferabilities?

So often in my coaching of others and my self, I come across the topic of how one views their past experience.

A typical response is that experience is a prison which traps one in an industry, role, network or familiar set of challenges & solutions. One deems that their reputation in one area disqualifies them from doing other things. While there is some truth to this, it is not as true as we too often think.
A better response I encourage, though I recognize its difficulty from personal experience, is to see our past experience as a bridge to every other type of service and opportunity we are inclined to pursue. This is easier said than done, but alas not impossible. Possibility is rooted in believing that your past experience is a bridge, and not a prison.

Here are a few bridges to contemplate:

1. Any experience develops a set of transferable skills useful in a variety of other scenarios outside your past experience. Inventorying your transferable skills  is critical and I advise you to not attempt this on your own but with other trusted colleagues as we all have blindspots and underestimations rgarding our skills.

2. Your past experience has cultivated a network of contacts (transferable relationships) who have contacts far afield of your current industry, role, etc. who can help you research, connect with, and bridge over to new possibilities for yourself. Strategic analysis and leveraging of your network is critical. People are typically more willing to assist us than we are willing to reach to them so I encourage this, and remember the value of the strength of weak ties.

3. Your past experience has exposed you to a number of industry and business scenarios (transferable experience & knowledge) which while “old hat” to you are new challenges to others who can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom. Here is where research of developments in other industries, or other sectors of your current industry, is useful to enable you to ascertain where your experience can possibly add more value.

As I encourage my coachees to filter these transferabilities in their own pasts through the perspective of bridge, versus prison, it begins to open up new possibilities for what they might do with their backgrounds in different context. I think this mindset and skill is going to be more and more critical for all of us as we face a locally & globally competitive job & career environment which is asking us to be more nimble, flexible and creative about our prospect.

May you always have the eyes and ears to see and hear how your prisons are really bridges! Happy transferring!