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Ep 77: The Light and Shadow of Coaching – A Conversation with Tunde Erdos

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Introduction:  Tunde Erdos holds a PhD in Business and Organisational Management, A Masters in Executive Coaching, A Masters in Translation & Simultaneous Interpreting and a Bachelor’s degree in Law. She is an author of 3 books, a prolific speaker at conferences and has published articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and professional coaching magazines. Tunde’s latest endeavour is a documentary on the Light and Shadow of Coaching and she produced this to raises funds for a Social Impact Initiative in Kenya. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the many facets of Coaching, our relationship to it and the often and many unexamined shadows that exist for coaches and the coaching profession. The phenomenon of Coaching Presence and our collective understanding on what Presence is and could be for coaching is discussed. The words, curiosity, relationality, power, presence and energy surface several times across this provocative conversation. 

Points made over the episode

  • Tunde when asked to share a different story of her than the one I introduced is quick to share that she is joy, playful and full of expansion more than the knowledge perspective I shared with the listeners.
  • There are so many facets to a person, so many selves that we approximate a diamond. Coaching does too. 
  • We are interactional human beings resonating, being stimulated and responding differently to whomever is present and in differently too depending on the contexts we live
  • Tunde was quick enough to notice her own shadow operating her in the moment, where she was walking away from the direct question posed. 
  • Tunde recalls a dark moment, shameful moment in Coaching where her client was more present than she and it prompted her to explore Presence, Movement Synchronicity, and non-verbal communication in coaching through her PhD
  • Some of the results from her research were surprising. Coaches with more education, more advanced training are more reactive and defensive of their practice. 
  • Tunde’s process research, which  looked at the energy between coach and client, the coaches self-regulatory capacity after a coaching session, and the many interviews with coaches and feedback sessions given on various noted observations from video recordings, showcased this phenomenon that was surprising. 
  • Another research finding and a shadow of coaches, Tunde calls the Snow White Phenomenon where she reframed the famous expression the queen uses in the movie, Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all to, Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the most present of them all.  
  • The light of coaching is well documented and researched. We know Coaching is a powerful tool for growth, development, learning, change and transformation. We know and understand this. 
  • We are in love with Coaching, so in love that is too is a shadow. 
  • We have to be willing to be curious about our attachment to coaching in this direction.
  • Some coaches like to think they know the “Ideal Client” but Tunde’s research found that often the energy between coach and client in an “ideal” scenario was asynchronistic. 
  • In terms of our understanding of Presence, it diminishes over time. Coaches put a lot of effort at the beginning of a session to be present but they confuse the relationality of presence. 
  • Curiously the effort we expend in this way to show up creates a lot of energy but also a lack of dissonance. 
  • The ICF Ignite program aims to anchor coaching beyond 1:1 Coaching, beyond Team Coaching to be seen as a social impact tool 
  • Tunde’s documentary’s main purpose is to raise funds for a Social Impact Initiative she is developing to support women in Kenya, through coaching to become entrepreneurial.
  • The documentary also serves another purpose, to shine a light on the shadow side of coaching by way of several hundred interviews,  exploring the contributions made by coaches and leaders in the field. 
  • Interestingly one contributor shared that he thought Coaches were too serious and then he himself refused to have a vignette of him practicing joy and presence be featured on the show. A Shadow, what we espouse we do not live. 
  • We are not very trusting of ourselves in this field. Another Shadow. 
  • We are also very disconnected from our humanity, from ourselves and whilst we are starting to use this wisdom we are very pre-occupied with ourselves as Coaches, trying to understand it from a cognitive space. 
  • We underestimate or we do not understand the power we wield in organisations and the negative consequences of our work. 
  • We do not fully appreciate the dynamic nature of organisations, the living systems we enter despite using several slogans in our literature. 
  • We have to question how responsible we are as Coaches in the way we use our power in systems. 
  • Some examples of this power include team members leaving a team when they discover they don’t fit, or a team dissolving after coaching. Other examples of power include coaches asking clients to “take a deep breath’ or similar when the same understanding around presence and mindfulness is not shared. 
  • There has been a huge growth in the use of internal coaches in organisations and a corresponding growth in the building of coaching cultures. Often these cultures do not protect internal coaches from the very systemic issues they are dealing with in coaching,  parallel process for example.  Supervision by an external supervisor is required. 
  • Tunde shared many wishes she would want for coaching and coaches. 
  • To have conversations and be curious about our shadow side
  • To watch our pre-occupation with the future when the present is not well understood and where our understanding of concepts like presence are burgeoning. 
  • Words create worlds, are we too attracted to the future instead of the present, what drives this preoccupation?
  • We pay attention to language in coaching and the words a client uses but we also need to pay much greater attention to the ways we are with each other. 
  • Tunde left the conversation grateful for the opportunity to share the social impact initiative she is about to launch for women in Kenya for my interest in it and also for the relationship we developed over the conversation. 

Resources shared 

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