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Chapter Four - Introduction to the Coaching on the Axis Framework

Marc Simon Kahn Karnac Books ePub

Coaching on the Axis (Kahn, 2011) is a systemic and integrative framework for business coaching that aligns the practice with marketplace reality and organisational culture. It is offered as an overarching approach that helps orientate coaches to the challenge of business coaching. Therefore, coaches may use whichever coaching models and techniques they like, as long as they are orientated within the axial framework.

This overarching approach positions coaching in a way that promotes success of an organisation as a whole, as opposed to just that of the individual being coached. It does this by systemically bringing personal, interpersonal, and organisational realities into an improved state of relationship through the coaching dialogue.

These relationships are articulated on an axis that stretches across two dimensions: the environment (incorporating the organisation) and the individual. At the centre of this axis sits the coaching relationship, which constitutes as the narrative bridge between the two and forms the third dimension. The notion of an axis is used as a relational metaphor to orientate the coach to their primary focus—relationship, thereby steering the process away from a remedial and individualistic orientation typical of counselling and psychotherapy.

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CHAPTER NINE Case study

Marc Simon Kahn Karnac Books PDF

CHAPTER NINE

Case study

The first meeting

Des, a newly appointed executive in a multinational company, engaged my services as a business coach based on a referral from another client.

Des contacted me directly and said she needed coaching to help her

“step up” in her new senior executive role.

In our first meeting, she explained that she needed to move from her preferred task-based, managerial mindset into more of a relationshiporientated, leadership mindset. She said that an ability to influence and empower, as opposed to direct and control, was necessary to achieve the kinds of business outcomes she was now tasked with.

Although these goals were initially articulated as individual development outcomes, they were actually environmental requirements for her role. Des explained that her manager, the CEO, and her job description made it clear that “leadership through influence” was a role requirement, and she added: “My boss emphasised that success in such would be an important consideration come bonus time.”

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CHAPTER SEVEN The coaching relationship

Marc Simon Kahn Karnac Books PDF

CHAPTER SEVEN

The coaching relationship

T

he coaching relationship constitutes the centre of the coaching axis, and is its core. This dimension brings the individual and the environment into dialogue in a way that promotes alignment, integration, and improved performance. As Oliver (2010) explains:

“A systemic orientation to coaching highlights the detail of coach/ client conversation as a core site of interest and as the place for analysis and the beginnings of change” (p. 108).

In the metaphor of the tree, the trunk, which connects the roots with the branches and leaves, symbolises the coaching relationship. This is used to reflect the idea of an “axis” where the continual focus is relationship between the parts—the individual (roots) and the environment (branches and leaves). A tree trunk channels nourishment in both directions, first, facilitating energy from photosynthesis in the leaves down to the roots and, second, channelling nourishment from the soil through the roots up into the branches and leaves (Evans, 2000).

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Chapter Eight - Coaching on the Axis: Technique

Marc Simon Kahn Karnac Books ePub

The Coaching on the Axis approach does not strictly prescribe one particular model or set of techniques for its implementation. It is rather an overarching approach or framework that helps orientate coaches to the challenge of business coaching. It is therefore possible to use this approach as a general framework, and to use many different coaching techniques and models in its application.

For instance, perhaps a coach is partial to using structured sequential questioning typical of the popular GROW (Whitmore, 2009) or ACHIEVE (Dembkowski et al., 2006) models of coaching. Or maybe he or she prefers employing reflective interpretations typical of psychodynamic psychotherapy (Malan, 1995), or anchoring and reframing techniques from NLP (Bandler & Grinder, 1983), or reality-testing methods from cognitive therapy (Beck, 1979) or role-playing from Gestalt therapy (Woldt & Toman, 2005). All of these, and many others, can be applied in the Coaching on the Axis approach.

The following chapter offers only some of many possible techniques and practices that a coach may use within the Coaching on the Axis approach. In most cases, a coach works best with a set of techniques he or she has trained in, refined, and personalised over many years. In this chapter, coaches may simply find some useful methodologies for integration into their existing technical repertoire, or be inspired to pursue new practices.

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Chapter Five - The Environmental Dimension

Marc Simon Kahn Karnac Books ePub

The environment reflects the systemic reality within which the individual being coached operates. This is characterised by the company's organisational culture which, as explained in Chapter Two, not only refers to its mission and values but includes phenomena such as its business model, strategy, structure, systems, history, rituals, myths and symbols, and importantly, the basic assumptions that underlie them. The environment also includes the market supra-system that mediates the company's survival. All these elements are seminal in appreciating the context within which the individual being coached is required to succeed.

In the visual metaphor of a tree (Figure 3), the environmental dimension is located in the leaves, branches and atmosphere. The physics of photosynthesis (Bidlack et al., 2003) is useful here in reflecting the chemistry between the individual and his or her environment. In the same way that the leaves of a tree convert light from the environment into chemical energy which nourishes the tree, facilitating its growth, individuals take up roles in an organisation to convert market energy into profit, facilitating economic growth. In this metaphor, the individual is not the leaf, the role is the leaf, and the individual is required to take up the role to facilitate interaction with the market. The various roles in a company are like different leaves, and the branches are like departments that channel energy through the system in an integrating way. Some organisations, as with some flora, have only a handful of leaves and branches that do this, whereas others have thousands that work together growing larger or smaller organisations. And as a tree depends on its position in relation to other plants competing for the same sunlight and environmental nutrients, so does an organisation compete with other organisations for market share.

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