Featured Image: Still from 1984 Film Poster: John Hurt as Winston Smith, Suzannah Hamilton as Julia
Above Charmaine Roche whose new podcast Speak Up, Speak Out aired Thursday 30th April 2020
I’m misquoting Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984 to reflect on a podcast I’ve just listened to, a new podcast called Speak Up, Speak Out where education and executive coach Charmaine Roche interviews polymaths and experienced professionals in and around the coaching industry asking can coaching become a tool of personal, organisational and social change? Listening to the first episode (Martin Vogel) what an interesting conversation they had: I’d definitely say Yes!
In the first episode Charmaine interviews Martin who is a coach and trained as a social scientist, went into journalism with the BBC and then began to work in organisations to help to create safe spaces where everyone can be heard and to offer coaching with the same ethos.
What I enjoyed was how they talked about their backgrounds and how those backgrounds instilled in them a sense of sensitivity to authority. They talk about how it’s impossible to be impartial and they began to touch on how vital in a coaching it is to be able to find the space and the language to be able to enable the person they’re working with to find out who they are, where they come from.
Martin has written on ethics on his blog: Coaching is Political and really seems to feel that he wants to be able to enable people to find their own ethical feet in their organisations because feeling grounded and relevant is vital to our humanity.
Charmaine is an education coach undertaking a very interesting phd to build on her wide educational and coaching experience. From what she said in the podcast she’s looking at how organisations driven by profit normalise working environments that squash a sense of vocation, moral capacity and accountability to humane ethical values: I immediately thought of how so many organisations no longer have any institutional memory (think of the ramifications of GDPR for example) and how this impacts on former workers, it’s as if they never existed!
It was great to hear how they develop, use and hone their experience, reading, learning and thinking to understand the people, settings, organisations they’ve experienced and how they’ve realised why you have no choice but to have ethics and to speak out.
It made me realise how alive organisations (still are) but how much we’ve been trained and socialised to believe we can change nothing. I realised what a combination of subjectivity and objectivity they and we are. How often do we blame ourselves when things go wrong at work? We’d often rather leave a job than understand that maybe half the problem is not understanding the environment we’re in, not being able to articulate that and not having the tools to repair ourselves or the organisation. Charmaine and Martin talked about why it’s important to understand the wider political context of an organisation because every organisation is accountable to the people who work in it as well as to the wider society and world. Not recognising this and having purely survivalist organisational goals makes sick workplaces, people and inauthentic relationships.
So true: this is a great listen and will change the way we do things I think.
Below are some of the podcasts I listen to:
The Thread (about history’s unintended consequences) Movers and Shapers, (stories about all forms of dance across culture and history) Movement Research, (looking at cross disciplinary understanding of movement) and New Books In Critical Theory: all podcasts that take me beyond my own miniscule knowledge and into different worlds: the world of the historian, the dancer, the thinker.
2 thoughts on “If There Is Hope It Lies With Those Who Speak Up, Speak Out: Charmaine Roche Life Flow Balance Podcast: Episode 1”
Thanks for your reflections, Paula. Charmaine is a great podcast host who elicited comments that surprised even me. Impartiality is something I have worked with for many a year. While I am sceptical about whether one can BE impartial, I absolutely believe it it possible to PRACTICE impartiality. That is, one can assume a neutral stance for the purposes of enquiry even while having an opinion on something. Coaches and journalists alike trip themselves up on this. In coaching terms, it is important to honour the client’s agency and be directive. But this shouldn’t preclude brining political questions into the conversation. If you do this, people may begin to suspect where you are coming from even if you are trying to be non-directive. But the art as a coach is not to be attached to any particular outcome. Impartiality is about being honest regarding one’s own biases while framing questions as much as possible in a way that supports the client to make their own judgments. Some would go further and say you can bracket out your biases, but I’m not sure.
Such an interesting way of seeing things: how to interrogate an organisation’s understanding of neutrality without undermining trust it’s probably by developing conversations where people in the organisation are encouraged to look at the boundaries between the inside of the organisation and the outside. People often don’t get the chance to think about how the outside world perceives them and their work, how they imagined their work and how it actually is from day to day. I suppose it’s about encouraging all kinds of thinking from many different backgrounds, connecting like with unlike and creating opportunities for like to develop tools for unlike to use and for unlike to develop tools for like (ha ha that’s really obscure language!)
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