2018 is the fifth year York has responded to the ICF’s (International Coach Federation) invitation to celebrate coaching via International Coaching week (ICW). Whilst the city maintained its tradition of Multum in Parvo (a lot in a little!) over the week, it’s the spirit of the endeavours as much as the breadth and depth of exploration that is noteworthy.

The spirit of giving, sharing and celebrating was evident throughout the week – organisations gave their time, venues and hospitality; individuals, (be they speakers, facilitators or delegates) willingly shared their experiences and skills – and, in so doing, continue to develop the strong community of coaches we have in and around our city; and celebration throughout, greatly supported by generous sponsorship of lunches and evening gatherings all helped in so doing.

Of particular note was the cost – or lack thereof (all events were free). The only cost incurred was time, and I think most would regard the time spent as an investment rather than a cost anyway.

Events  were wide ranging – demonstrations of coaching, exploration of coaching cultures, using horses and guided walks as vehicles for coaching, ‘open space’ approaches allowing multiple concurrent events being examples. Council, University, CVS, and private sector organisations all hosted events throughout the week.

Spirit evolves, and needs to be nurtured. It is pleasing to note increasing initiative for events being taken by these organisations. Over the five years the baton for organising ICW has moved from an initial strong centrally driven approach by Coaching York, through a more facilitative role, to a destination of simply being a portal for these events to be co-ordinated, communicated and delivered.

The spirit to evolve is strong, and already thoughts for ICW 2019 are bubbling!

Peter Lumley, Chair, Coaching York


From Geoff Ashton;

Our ‘Open Space’ events (known as the Coaching Mosaic) were hosted by City of York Council. Here are a few reflections from some of the Group Leaders:

  • Our community-focused conversation explored in detail how coaching could inspire volunteers, maintain their commitment and enthusiasm, and form the basis for more effective matching between organisations needing volunteers and those considering gifting their time to good causes.
  • A mosaic is such an excellent name to describe the varied and informative group conversations throughout the 2nd day of the event.

From Lindsay Cameron;

Our debate around the ageing population drew out useful insights about how coaching can have a central role in supporting executives to prepare their businesses to be successful in a changing economy and inspiring individuals to set their caps at productive and fulfilling lives of purpose and usefulness after work.

This phenomenon affects us all. It’s been approaching for a long time yet come upon us suddenly. It’s a transition into another economic cycle and our solutions need to be informed by the kind of thoughtfulness, reflection and creativity that good coaching, whether with individuals or with groups facilitates”.

From David Britten;

  • Our conversation on the topic of ‘supervision as professional conscience in practice’ featured some lively exchanges about the nature of supervision, its value and relevance for coaches, and the politics of professional bodies. The diversity of experiences and viewpoints was refreshing, and stimulating for all concerned.

From Geoff Ashton;

Our morning with York CVS enabled exploration of the relationship between Chairs and Chief Executives, and the role that coaching can play in developing those relationships. Geoff (organiser), and Chris (coach), reflect as follows:

  • Our Third Sector event involved a select and highly engaged group of Chief Executives and Trustees, exploring the positive impact coaching can make on this vital relationship. John Sargent, Chair of Your Consortium and Director of The Ideas Mine, shared in conversation with his coach, Chris Lazenby, how coaching had impacted his role as a leader in various contexts. This frank and open conversation prompted lively and informed conversation which brought a number of moments of powerful insights as Chief Executives and Trustees reflected on what was good about their relationships, how these could be improved further, and conversations they needed to have but had never explored.

From Chris Lazenby;

  • Continuing a coaching dialogue with a client in front of an audience felt slightly odd. Even though John and I had agreed beforehand about how we’d handle confidentiality, it seemed like I was breaking one of coaching’s cardinal ‘rules’: what goes on between client and coach should be private. In the event, the incongruity faded quickly and we incorporated the new element into our conversation, occasionally turning to our spectators to expand & explain. Otherwise, the session followed the pattern of our coaching – ideas and insights naturally developed.

If I were to put my finger on the reason, it would be the quality of our relationship. During our work together, John and I had built a good rapport. Each time we met we were open and thoughtful, really listening to one another. Taking sufficient time to explore thoughts and feelings allowed us to get clarity about what was important in the coaching. Alongside that understanding, our conversations led us to know and value each other as people. Our relationship developed as we shared our thoughts, explored our different perspectives and, despite very different backgrounds, discovered common ground. In parallel with John developing his ideas about the changes he wanted to make, we grew to understand and respect each other. Maybe that’s when coaching works best – when people take the time to develop a mutual trust…

From Peter Zoeftig;

An evening with York Associates, long time supporters of Coaching York, saw Peter Zoeftig, a new member of Coaching York, explore the relationship between language mastery, awareness and coaching:

  • During the York ICW, it was tremendously inspiring to meet – and renew acquaintance with – great coaches, and discuss how to be more agile in our work. How though can we help others to be more agile? My workshop explored the importance of language mastery, and the cross-overs between language coaching and awareness, using topic/problem-based or situational-based coaching (and mentoring) centred around one’s personal and company goals and culture.

I covered how more effectively to understand one’s physical response to a range of scenarios and thence embody purposeful and harmonious behaviour that is also conveyed in language. By looking at the principle of “outcomes-based” strategies I drew attention to the question of how, in the very process of coaching, the fixed or negotiated outcomes may significantly evolve and an understanding of what is really going on, acquire a new kind of language. By focusing, in this way, on how we process situations, compose ourselves and perform, we confronted the inevitable paradox that people are in reality doing the opposite of what they are meant to do, or say that they are doing!

The workshop touched upon personal and corporate “meaning” and dwelt in some depth on the theory of chao-dynamics, viz. the way in which systems tend to dissipate and collapse over time; looking at how creative outcomes emerge by dint of the skilful ways in which communication is embodied allows us to overcome demotivation, and other destabilised states, using also coaching scaffolding methods – a structure of “support points” –  and thus we reverse the downward spiral, empowering others to be agile in their thinking and acting.

From Debbie Connors:

We were part of the Coaching Mosaic – a space for people to gravitate towards topics of interest to them and then participate in a discussion about that topic.  My table topic focused on coaching and communication from an NLP and brain science perspective.  Much was discussed and the highlights and key points are summarised below:

When considering ‘outcomes’ or ‘end goals’, people think in terms of ‘away’ or ‘ toward’ goals ie. to move away from the ‘pain’ of what they have, or ‘towards’  what they want.  It was reflected that it’s often easier to know what you don’t want than to identify what you do want.  The reason for this is because as humans we are conditioned to focus on past experiences and protect ourselves from the ‘unknown’ future.  But that doesn’t help a person to move forward, instead it keeps them safe and in their comfort zone.

Once you’ve moved past that and you know what you do want, it’s helpful to spend time thinking about that future state because the brain likes pictures.   The more you can create a ‘picture’ of what you want, the more   information you give to your brain; in doing so it can get you what you after, otherwise it’s like having a map but no coordinates of where you want to end up.  Help your brain to help you!

We discussed behaviour flexibility – the ability to step into another persons shoes and see what life is like from their perspective, to notice their body language and physiology.  In NLP this is a big part of being able to get into rapport with another person, rapport being the ability to reduce perceived difference between you and another person.

The discussion around beliefs and our stories about ourselves and others provided much food for thought.  We reflected on how our beliefs can help or hinder, that they are a version of reality but not reality in itself.  For example, if you think the world is a dangerous place then your brain will find evidence to support this, if you think it’s an amazing place, your brain will provide evidence to support that also.    Beliefs are very powerful and when coaching, it’s important to understand what the person is believing about themselves or a particular situation.

And then our time was up!

From Nigel Burchell:

City of York Council hosted the day long series of ‘Mosaic’ events. Here, Nigel Burchell, Workforce Development Manager for the Council reflects on the reasons behind supporting Coaching York in our endeavours

Public Services are in a state of flux and change. They are adapting to meet social and technological changes, challenges and opportunities. They need a coaching conversation with themselves!

Just as importantly they need a coaching conversation with their stakeholders, customers and communities. A conversation based on trust and honesty that seeks to encourage us all to look for alternatives to traditional solutions, be more independent and take responsibility for our own futures. City of York Council is on this journey and using our approach to Creating Resilient Communities to test and review the proposal that if we change the way we engage with and converse with our clients we change the outcomes for them (and us).

As part of that journey we have encouraged and supported Coaching York to grow themselves into a social enterprise – A Community of Coaches serving the Community. For the fifth successive year we were pleased to offer space at our offices to allow the conversations to continue to flourish and develop.