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Unarticulated assumptions about coaching in non-western contexts Dr Phil Smith Hong Kong University School for Professional and Continuing Education 16.

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Presentation on theme: "Unarticulated assumptions about coaching in non-western contexts Dr Phil Smith Hong Kong University School for Professional and Continuing Education 16."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unarticulated assumptions about coaching in non-western contexts Dr Phil Smith Hong Kong University School for Professional and Continuing Education 16 January 2014

2 A (typically) talk- or conversation-based form of form of one-to-one facilitated self- development… for (typically) mentally healthy people who want to develop their potential & possibility… facilitated (typically!) by someone with a relevant level of specialised coaching knowledge and skills. The coaching paradigm

3 Cultural relativism – factors stemming from national or ethnic origin which may affect the depth and quality of connection, or ‘intersubjectivity’, between coach and coachee All coaching relationships face the challenge of intersubjectivity; western – non-western relationships are just an extreme version of this The relevant issues need to be surfaced, contracted for and managed, as in any other kind of coaching relationship You can’t manage what you can’t name, so step 1 is to try to identify the most generic kinds of parameters and anticipate how they might come into play Is cultural relativism a problem?

4 1.The purpose of being & the meaning of life 2.The capacity for self-reflection 3.The capacity for self-determination 4.Social comparison - benchmarking the self 5.Relationships – social maxims 6.Rationality & its variants 7.What leading means 8.The changing Gestalt of Learning & Development 8 Themes for today

5 1. The ‘purpose of being’ varies within and between cultures The ‘meaning of life’ e.g. the place of the self in free market v communist societies e.g. The impact of predominant religious & spiritual world-views ‘Self-importance’ e.g. individualism v collectivism e.g. ‘positive psychology’ So What? – it helps to be sensitive to the impact of ‘worldview’ on the coaching relationship

6 2. The capacity for self-reflection… In my terms, ‘windows & mirrors on the soul’ The capacity for self-consciousness, self-reflection, self- awareness & self-understanding The foundations of modern ontology, phenomenology & epistemology: Arendt, Buber, Heidegger, Husserl, Marcuse, Nietzsche, Sartre The modern psychoanalytic project… Cultural anthropology, social psychology - ‘The Generalised Other’ – Mauss (‘person’); Mead (‘I’ v ‘me’); Cooley (‘looking glass self’); Duval & Wicklund (‘Objective self-awareness’)… Post-structuralism, critical theory, discourse analysis (Derida, Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, Eco)… The Master & His Emissary (Iain McGilchrist, 2009) Thinking Fast & Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2011) So What? – this factor limits & potentiates the scope for non-directive, self-directed learning

7 The freedom to aspire Agency, self-potency & locus of control Drive & self-determination Social expectations & permissions The possibility of self-creation & self-leadership So What? – this factor limits & potentiates the value & impact of action planning & the intention to implement 3. The capacity for self-determination…

8 4. Social comparison - benchmarking the self… The presence of frameworks & standards for self- comparison The Gestalt of identity e.g. varying primacy of work in the work-life equation RBG thinking – the dialectic among here and now ; then and there ; everything else that matters Normative and prescriptive comparisons & pressures So What? – this factor limits & potentiates the richness of gap analysis in the GROW model

9 5. Relationships… Social maxims e.g. self-disclosure to strangers e.g. honesty e.g. one self or many, consistency of self-representation e.g. intention to implement v being polite Authenticity; intimacy; candour; promises Status & its impact e.g. power-distance & what is expected of the coach e.g. what should be covered in the ‘contracting’ conversation So What? – this factor limits & potentiates the quality of intersubjectivity between coach & coachee

10 6. Rationality & its variants… Most basically, cultural variations in the criteria for legitimacy & the processes of legitimation Most of us here today come from rational, secular, progressive, pragmatic and competitive societies These features heavily colour our premises & values in helping relationships, the ‘definition of the project’ We need to consider if & how we are able & willing to negotiate intersubjectivity on some fundamental implicit values: The positive psychology project The virtues of self-determination & self-improvement The authority of the secular The legitimacy of helping relationships So What? – this factor limits & potentiates the impact of different kinds of problem solving discourse

11 7. What leading means… The leadership pipeline (Ram Charan) – is it universal? Are western principles of organisational design (e.g. Mintzberg) viable in all contexts? Do levels of authority & accountability have to be isomorphic with levels of work complexity (e.g. Elliot Jaques)? So What? – this factor shapes practical planning for job and career progression

12 From supply-led to demand-led From batch processing to bespoke The culture of learning is changing very fast in the West (e.g. online-learning) (The Information Age, Manuel Castells) So what? – this consideration helps us to contextualise and ‘position’ coaching in relation to other learning & development options, for ourselves & for our clients 8. The changing Gestalt of Learning & Development…


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