Self-disclosure: I am male, heterosexual, baby boomer, Christian, able-bodied, white, Canadian, married, literate; privileged with opportunity for education, health care; sought out for opinion and influence. These are a few facets of my background that are part of who I am.
In some coaching situations this background may seem like the norm; in others it points to aspects of diversity.
I understand one of the pillars of coaching to be the transparent, unconditional presence of the coach that enables the needs and agenda of the client to be the focus of all of the attention. Typically masterful coaches are ‘present’ in body, mind, spirit and words. Being this way is an expression of trust, intimacy, active listening, and appreciation for the client. This coaching competency is powerful when we consider that every coaching experience is between two people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
The need for the coach to deepen self-awareness becomes even more poignant when the coaching conversation is a place where multiple facets of diversity intersect. To say that coach and client have different experiences of
• national culture
• economic, educational or family background
• race, gender or ability
• sub-cultural experiences like sexual orientation
• experience living through war or oppression
is to imply that the coach will be more present and effective when they are self-aware, mindful of the other, curious and open to the importance of the client’s lived experience.
Here are some initial coaching questions that may increase the efficacy of coaching presence in our coaching relationships:
• What is my background: race, education, family history? How do these experiences impact how I see the world and others?
• What could be the ‘unconscious impact’ of my experience of power, privilege, and place in the world?
• Have I experienced myself as different and been unable to express this?
• What are my biases that could be rooted in my experience and may have become blind spots in my coaching?
• What parts of who I am do I need to acknowledge and become free from so my world view does not prevent me from seeing the world view and cultural experience of the client?
These brief thoughts are intended to facilitate or prod deeper coaching conversations among coaches and with our clients.
What is your diverse presence in the word and coaching?
I encourage all of us to continue the conversation. Reach out at any time.