Developing ecologically conscious coaches

Developing ecologically conscious coaches

Bee visiting a flower

Natalia de Estevan-Ubeda, the EMCC UK Director for Knowledge Exchange, has been reading a chapter on how to develop ecologically conscious coaches in a new book by Peter Hawkins and Eve Turner.

The new book on Systemic Coaching by Eve Turner and Peter Hawkins includes a chapter on how to expand our ecological awareness, and it sets out on the premise that coaching needs to deliver value to all the stakeholders. There is a natural social responsibility feel to their message, which surfaces in the chapter when they introduce the idea that we have the ability to make a difference. Hawkins and Turner believe that the environmental crisis is the biggest challenge we face, and yet they frequently hear that coaches need to remain neutral, focused on the personal and not the global, and that the ecological challenge is not the job of coaches.

The authors acknowledge that coaches should not impose their values and beliefs on their clients, nor should they preach or campaign, but they also invite coaches to be honest and transparent in what they believe. One of the key points they make is their belief that the ecological dimension is present in every coaching session, and they give examples of how this presence is both explicit and implicit, conscious and subconscious. Because of this, they propose that it is not the coach’s job to bring ecology into the relationship, because it is already there.

Hawkins and Turner offer five ways in which the ecological dimension can surface, and they propose insightful questions which take you to points of reflection. These questions don’t feel imposed or agenda-driven – quite the contrary, they feel refreshing and inviting, asking the reader to see things differently. While conducting coaching work in nature or with nature is not new, Hawkins and Turner helpfully lay out a set of resources which readers can contextualise and explore. I was particularly interested in a reflection around the need to contract to pay attention to concerns in the moment, such as emotional upset, or a feeling of being overwhelmed when working with nature. This reflection is particularly relevant when they present the ecological awareness model, developed by Hawkins and Ryde (2020).

In summary, I found the chapter inviting and very useful in supporting my reflection as a coach and as a supervisor. Whether ecology is more or less central to your practice, there is undoubtedly content here which will allow you to work differently, explore your relationship (and your clients’) to the key questions raised by the current ecological crisis, and some key pointers to what it is to work systemically.

Natalia de Estevan-Ubeda MA FCIPD is a coach and coach supervisor, and is the EMCC UK Director for Knowledge Exchange. This has been written as a EMCC UK resource within the Climate and Coaching Series. Views are Natalia’s own.

About the book: Peter Hawkins and Eve Turner, Systemic Coaching: Delivering Value Beyond the Individual (Routledge, 2020)

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