Over 70% of tgc readers were either ‘worried’ or ‘sad’ following “Brexit means Brexit”

Following up on our first post “Brexit: In the wake of the UK referendum, how important and valuable is coaching now? Have your say…” we’re really delighted to be sharing some of the views from all around the world including UK, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, United States. 

Over 25% of tgc readers responded through surveys, one-on-one and peer conversations (both face-to-face and virtually), via email, and even a few readers/practitioners have followed up by writing their own post and even one of them making it a family affair.

Many of the tgc readers represent professionals working in a range of industries at different levels, as a permanent member of staff, or as consultants to a range of organisations. Over 70% who responded to the survey were personally 'worried’ or ‘sad’ following the results, and those who were observing from outside of the UK had some very wise words to share about democratic voting,

“We need to do what we can to foster belief in democracy WHILST at the same time making sure that undemocratic forces do NOT highjack the system. But simply not liking the result of a democratic election is not a good enough answer. I would encourage - and do encourage - everyone to go vote…”

“I would strongly push for minimizing the 'they are all racists and uneducated dumbos' reflexes and start a debate on the root cause of the issue - and the unhealthiness of our system in general, where people - like most of my clients - are on the winning straight (albeit believing that they are are also losing out) whilst the people in the north - the areas where there was a strong out vote are indeed and since MANY years suffering from actually being left behind.”

“We (Netherlands) are interdependent. Although the system has failed, it is not wise to wish for the past. This result causes a scar, a separation between the old and the young, between so much more...”

What the good coach has learnt from our readers: Our top 3 learning and reflections 

  1. With a shrinking economy, there could be less work available because coaching isn’t seen as a high priority within organisations. Some do see opportunities to provide more specific services especially around strategic and operational coaching, and potentially collaborating with trusted peers to deliver these new deliveries to work alongside the new business cycles.

  2. Overall there is a strong sense of how each practitioner is offering a glimpse of their coaching approach to support their clients, individuals and/or teams, rather than offering a simple model of coaching to handle complex issues.

  3. A strong learning mindset is unequivocal amongst all who responded. They’ve all responded with the opportunities and potential that coaching can provide themselves, their peers and clients to make sense of all the information and chart an even more meaningful direction that’s absorbing the changing landscapes.

A sample of responses following our survey:

What do you think the impact on your practice might be?

Overwhelmingly over 90% were concerned or very concerned about the impact, and this is what some of them had to say,

 “Less work; delays to projects.”
 “The impact is likely to be economic - less work.”
 “A cut in discretionary budgets will mean fewer contracts. Money is more likely to be spent on relocation, redundancy, consulting...”
 “The search for, and roots, for the causes of why this hashappened coincide with the search for and roots of why this coaching thing matters. This was more a protest vote about something still hidden ( not what it is said to be a protest about.) Such as people lacking the wherewithal, and support, to become something that matters for themselves - compared to how they now perceive others. Previous generations were more happy with their small ' lot ' in life. But now ..... more ambitions and expectations are growing. Sounds like what coaching is about, doesn't it”
 “There may be the need to support more clients in resilience and courage in order to take more risks as they navigate an uncertain future. I hope to be able to work with such people and companies and allow them to find /re-find their strengths and direction.”
  "I do a lot of work for the civil service. I can see potential see more demand for confidential role support in being to safely talk about concerns and take some time to think. That's the situation now - the mind boggles about the pressures for the civil service. Mind you I worked for a department when Gove was put in charge and showed complete insensitivity to people's interests and needs. On the otherhand I can see organisations diverting resources from learning initiatives as a freeze on non-essentials takes place. I see overall the uncertainties facing organisations having a definite short term negative impact. Longer term, who knows?”
  “I am in France so perhaps some expats will come back. For sure main brokers who are in the UK will see their global or UE assignments decrease andtheir will be less work coming our way from there.”
  “The pound devaluing will impact my GBP income, bank charges will go up, the economic unrest in the UK will probably mean fewer international programmes being driven from the UK, UK coaches might even look more outside the UK for work...”
  “Im practicing in HK but there is quite a mood shock and uncertainty here. The impact on the need raised by client on how to manage their work, projects and career in the increasing uncertainty and the irrational voters.”

What would you share with your clients who are going through this uncertainty?
“The impact of Brexit is a vivid example of complex change; I'm likely to draw on it in conversations around change.”
“Insights from complexity science..”
“Call a coach! Talk things through. Crises often provide more intense relationships - use that. Move to the level above tribal differences - be a unifier.”
“Think opportunities, not problems .... become more comfortable with your abilities to learn and progress ....Realise how this will be the real difference between people, going forwards”
“I would share that it is a natural reaction to feel uncertain and different emotions but then to focus on how to harness their energies in a positive and clear direction to find their own resilience and courage. It is critical they support their own people and keep optimistic about what they together can achieve.”
"Depends on the client. If I had a reasonable relationship I'd be prepared to be moreself disclosing. I'd seek to stimulate multiple perspectives, risk assessment, and a 'glass as half full' perspective options. It would be so dependent on the context. If the client wanted to more fully release negative feelings, I'd create that safe space that helped them fully express fears and concerns. I'd also generally feel able to share my perspectives and the evidence supporting those, while being open to and respecting different perspectives.”
“Although it is still not easy for me, I have seen many comments "OK what do we do now?" and "what type of opportunity to change the model do we have here"?”
“First and foremost - take a breath - this isdemocracy! second I would listen to them their fears and help them see where self efficacy might lie for now. third, if it does not lead to war directly - which it won't - it might have less real effect on my clients - who tend to be all rather well off than they fear. we have lived through economic recessions before.“
“Know yourself, your core value and competence. This like the compass helping you to chart your course in the midst ofthunderstorm. be more sensitive to the changes in the external environment though… something that seems distant can have an immediate impact to you.”

What would you share with our peers who are going through this uncertainty?

  “Have you ever asked a question which has been as powerful as the leave/remain question has been in surfacing previously ignored or suppressed differences? If so, what was it?”
  “This is an opportunity for growth”
  “Although this may affect chemistry (prospects might explicitly ask your opinions; the young might regard elders with suspicion) once you're coaching, just coach. It's not about us.
  Review and reflect what is it you want to achieve through coaching”
  “This event could really bring forward the momentum we are building for the value to be added through the value to be brought for people through coaching. However, it will become much more important to present this value, in a manner that is really meaningful, and more incisive, which also means to the audience and even each individual, not some general statement which just coaches believe in”
  “That here is an opportunity for us to walk the talk! Also for us, if we are feeling uncertain due to the 'interesting times' to reflect on our own emotional responses, to learn from them and to turn them into something positive with which to support others from a deeper state of empathy and clarity.”
  "With peers, I'd be more openabout my real perspectives and challenges for coaching in particular - typical patterns with clients, any trends / patterns I saw emerging. I'd also be open to hearing others experiences. With trusted peers I would be more disclosing about my thoughts and feelings and be more open to exploring options and potential opportunities”
  “To pay attention to this, thinking and translating how this would impact on their client base. this would be a good context to bring into the next session to anticipate what the client would pop up for help and be prepared to have the right coaching”

What next?

Reading what our readers have shared, I’d like to put forward an idea, even a hypothesis, “Coaching is intrinsically linked to societal development and has happened as part of, rather than an exception to the  evolutionary development of any societies.”

Each relative stage of development has been slow and painful to achieve some form of stability, and what has evolved from each of those stages is an aspiration that everyone can reach their potential. Yet this is not the norm or even the social rules which each individual lives by; its more by exception. And this raises another question, how were a select group of individuals reaching their potential before there were even coaching practitioners?

Obviously, we’re using an example that’s currently happened in the UK, but I’m certain that our peers and readers will have similar examples in their nation they can quickly refer to especially when expressed something like this,

  “One of the most important ideas to emerge from micro-economics - or at least, the one with the most consequences for democratic politics - is ‘loss aversion’. People hate to have things taken away from them. But whole swathes of the UK have spent the last decades feeling that things are being taken away from them: their jobs, their sense that they are head, their understanding of how the world works and their places in it. The gaps in our society have just grown too big.”
   John Lanchester (Brexit Blues, London Review of Books)

And it's those gaps that we think coaching can help to bridge, or even narrow.

This event, as we shared in our first post, informs us that:

“We really do have a mandate from society to support individuals, peers and groups to find and share their voice and to be listened to, and heard in a way that offers fair opportunities for individuals to continually reach and grow their potential.”

After all, this is what we do in coaching. 

And as one of our readers pointed out, “This event could really bring forward the momentum we are building for the value to be added through the value to be brought for people through coaching. However, it will become much more important to present this value, in a manner that is really meaningful, and more incisive, which also means to the audience and even each individual, not some general statement which just coaches believe in.

We agree. 

The comments shared by our readers even in this short and impromptu survey has given us indicators that our approach is relevant and working towards answering this ‘value add’ of coaching by publishing practitioners blog-articles that share their personal and professional experience of doing this thing called coaching. Importantly, they provide (self) evidence and articulation of how they do what they do in their market. 

We recognise that as coaching practitioners, we all do coaching and have our own coaching approach, yet the way we do it and how we achieve our experiences in coaching is unique to each of us which also makes it very hard to replicate. 

It is this sort of information shared as blog-articles that are helpful because it brings the voice and experiences of practitioners, in their own words. Explicitly being able to talk about what it is that they do, and how they engage, and discovering all the different sets of language of how this is done will begin to build that practitioner knowledge base. Having access to this knowledge base and it’s following analysis, whilst limited at the start, shall provide more rigour and objectivity for delivering those coaching conversations that may then be considered of having professional standards that the market and society accept as both enhancing and protecting an individual’s freedom. 

For the good coach, the result of the referendum has provided both clarity and evidence that coaching is a long-term endeavour. There are many opportunities and places for us all to practice, and to recognise (rather than compete with) all the informal and formal ways coaching is being applied. And that starts with understanding how we, as the role models, are able to reproduce the conditions and behaviours that always ensure at least 99.999% of the time produce similar positive results.

Lanchester, J., 2016. Brexit Blues. London Review of Books [Online] vol. 38 no. 15 pp. 3-6. Available from http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n15/john-lanchester/brexit-blues [Accessed 28 August 2016].