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Community Coaching Conference

Community Coaching Conference
3rd March, Principal York hotel, York

A conference for public sector, third sector and corporates with clear CSR agendas. Let’s extend coaching beyond the workplace and into communities – why should coaching be seen as appropriate primarily for people who reach certain levels of seniority within organisations? Surely the benefits of coaching could be much more widely experienced outside  and inside the workplace.

Building on the research into Community Coaching commissioned by City of York Council and conducted by Coaching York, this jointly hosted conference will table key findings from the research, illustrate some examples of Community Coaching, and provide workshops to explore facets of the subject. Our key note speaker is Professor Bob Garvey, hon President of Coaching York.

Reflections on International Coaching Week 2016

A continental perspective from Patricia Speltincx

I started with a question… Before attending the 2016 edition of the International Coaching Week (ICW), I was wondering if it was just by chance that York was the place where a few dynamic coaches had come together with the ambition of making their city the coaching capital of the UK.

Why I love York!

Patricia SpeltincxI love York and this week, more than ever before, I could feel how much York is conducive to personal quest and to self-fulfilment.  York is at the same time dignified and humble, vibrant and peaceful, wise and bold, soothing and energizing, confident and open, rich with experience and welcoming.  York offers a perfect space for growth and transformation.

Is this not what coaching is all about?

After this week, I know now that is not just by chance that it all happened in York.  York and coaching are just a perfect match.

So what did I think of ICW?

In a mature and friendly atmosphere, the 2016 ICW has been conducive to reflection, learning and growth, both at personal level and at a collective level, as a coaching community.  The experience was so rich that I could write a book on it!  Don’t worry (!). For now, I will limit myself to three main themes that emerged from the week.


The discourse, the language we use is a wonderful tool for organising our thoughts and communicating with others.  Our coaching discourse and its evolution over time has been identified as an indicator of the maturity of our profession, despite the fact that it is still at odds with today’s predominant managerial ethos.

The dangers and limits of language were covered during the week, and reminded us that discourse is nothing else than an imperfect and reductive mental representation of our experience.  It shapes our behaviours and has a massive influence on our experience of reality.  However, it is not reality.  The danger in not recognizing this is to get stuck in our mental constructs and miss what the real experience has to offer us in the here and now.  This is leading us to our second theme…


In a world where separation prevails, the need for integration has been emphasized and tackled from various perspectives: to reunite the being and the doing, to celebrate cultural differences, to open ourselves to new experiences, to investigate the overlaps between coaching, mentoring, counseling and psychotherapy.

It is interesting to notice that, although integration is about bringing together, it requires barriers to be removed, spaces to be opened, novelties and differences to be welcomed.  A condition to make integration possible is our third theme…

Reflective space

With a greater focus on the being rather than on the doing, coaching has definitely entered a new generation.  There is now less exclusive emphasis on pragmatic dimensions (e.g. problem solving, goal achievement, performance development…) and more emphasis on reflective, philosophical, narrative and even spiritual dimensions.  There is more focus on why clients do the things they do and who they become by doing them, than on what and how they do things.

Opening a reflective space for our clients enables them to achieve a higher level of consciousness, to let new meanings emerge from their experience and to redefine their discourse accordingly, to broaden their field of possibilities and choices, to go through a genuine transformation and to reinvent a new life narrative.

To be able to do this for our clients, we need first to do it for ourselves.  International Coaching Week has given us a great opportunity to do so.  A warm “thank you!” to all of those who made it possible, by organising or by participating in this memorable week.

And … rendez-vous next year!

  • Patricia Speltincx-Mann
  • June 2016
  • Patricia is a Coach, Consultant, Trainer and Speaker based in Brussels. Patricia’s passion is the exploration of the boundless human potential. Her goal is to contribute in raising the level of consciousness, wisdom and humanity in the business world.  Her passion and contribution permeate through all her activities: coaching, OD consultancy, conferences, workshops and writing.


Coaching in the media

Evan Davis explores coaching and mentoring for

The Bottom Line

In March, Evan Davis sat down with Gavin Patterson CEO of BT Group, Melanie Richards Vice Chairman and Partner of KPMG UK, and coach and mentor Jonathan Bowman-Perks to explore the growing interest among UK businesses in coaching.

The answers for your questions or the questions for your answers?

As a coaching professional, it was fascinating to hear what participants saw as the differences between coaching and mentoring. A nice distinction was that: “A coach has some great questions for your answers and a mentor has some great answers for your questions.” Both, in different ways, help “unravel what you’re thinking and feeling” whilst then “nudging and helping you get perspective.”

Evan Davis 2016 03

Evan asked why, if coaches and mentors have such decisive expertise, companies didn’t just employ coaches and mentors to make decisions instead of senior leaders. Gavin and Melanie were clear that the decisions they made in their managerial roles were very much their own decisions. At senior level there is no shortage of people willing to give advice – the unique value of the coach/mentor relationship is that it’s one where the client is given the space to unpack the issues, evaluate the options, consider the trade-offs and blow away the smoke to allow them to see the landscape into which any decision will be taking them.

Manager decisions are scrutinised by their peers, staff, partners, and stakeholders. Particularly at senior levels every time a manager makes a decision it sends out a signal, and it’s not always easy for them to see the signals they are sending. It’s a point made also by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Microsoft, who is the on the record as saying: “everybody needs a coach” particularly because we are not good at seeing ourselves as other people see us. Coaches really help bring perspective to these issues.

Evan’s guests discussed the value of coaching and mentoring in career transitions. On promotion “People don’t arrive fully baked” and a coach can be immensely valuable in helping build confidence, set priorities, and empowering the client to get to grips with the new relationships and dynamics of more senior leadership.

Success factors in a coaching and mentoring relationship

So what makes a coaching relationship successful? Whilst a lot is down to the skill and competence of the coach, it’s crucial that the client wants to engage in the process. Some clients are keen to engage from the off, whereas others may take a little time to see the value. But engagement is crucial, and a good coaching-client relationship is one where both parties prepare well for their conversations and are open to putting their discoveries into practice.

Coaching for all

Is coaching and mentoring just for managers at the most senior levels? No! All the panelists agreed that coaching was valuable at all strata of a business (KPMG offers coaching throughout its organisation). The focus of the activity will differ depending on the employee’s role, but all can benefit from it.

How Coaching York can help you

For a confidential, no obligation conversation to explore how coaching and mentoring could benefit your organisation, please email us on or call Geoff Ashton on 07735 46 75 98, or any of the other Coaching York Steering Group members.

Coaching in Business Forum

  • Are you a Manager who would like to continue to develop your coaching conversational skills?
  • Are you looking to connect more effectively with your team and colleagues?
  • Are you looking to be more influential and successful?
  • Do you want to motivate and grow your team?
  • Do you want to improve your performance and that of others?
  • Have you completed a coaching skills programme or qualification and wondered how to keep on improving your skills?
  • Perhaps you are someone who runs an internal coaching or mentoring scheme and would value sharing and learning ideas?

Then we are offering you a solution!

We would like to provide a forum for people/managers from businesses small and large to come together and share their coaching experiences, develop their confidence, knowledge and skills and have some fun in the process.

We have ideas about how we might do this but we need your thoughts too.

So we are proposing to facilitate a workshop in September for all those who are interested to develop this idea further.

If you’d like to come along, please let us know of your interest by emailing:

  • Chris Lazenby –
  • Julia Pallant –

Let us know your organisation, role, location and how to contact you and we’ll be in touch

Coaching in response to hate crimes

York Disability Doodle compositeMarije Davidson’s experience demonstrates that coaching can bring positive changes to any area of life. Marije is a volunteer at the York Independent Living Network. She has focused on the impact that hate crimes have on disabled people and their families. Read her article about how coaching has been used to explore the choices disabled people have when responding to hate crimes. You can find it along with other coaching success stories under the community menu at the top of the page or simply click here


A little help from my friends

The idea that is now ‘Coaching York’ was conceived nearly three years ago – a body of skilled coaches in the York area who can individually and collectively address organisational and community coaching needs, and in so doing help people achieve a sustainable and positive way of relating with each other.

Three years down the track, we have a vibrant coaching community who regularly meet and exchange ideas on best practice; are anticipating our third iteration of International Coaching Week in York next year; have launched our Community Coaching project; have worked with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development on regional seminars; have participated in various local events, and are actively working with the local Council on promoting Coaching Conversations.

It occurs to me that none of this would have been possible without the support and goodwill of many organisations – Universities, Councils, private, public and third sectors, and an army of volunteers.

Of particular note is the support offered by Lloyds SSE (School for Social Entrepreneurs) over the last year or so. This support has provided necessary funding for Coaching York’s various initiatives, and development opportunity for one of our Steering Group members via training, action learning sets and a mentor.

This support has translated into some great guidance for Coaching York in terms of clarity of purpose, values, marketing and determining organisational structure and entity. It was a pleasure therefore to attend the graduation of said Steering Group member, Pam Wells, at a recent evening event just outside of Durham, and to hear the stories of sixteen of her cohort who have shared the developmental journey.

Sue Osborne, Director of the Yorkshire and Humber branch of the School for Social Entrepreneurs set the scene with a reflection on the core ingredients for successful entrepreneurial endeavour – a passion for an idea, and an open mind – which is nurtured by co-coaching and action learning sets through the programme and translated into knowledge, expertise, and a great network of like minded people who are focussing on the things that really make a difference.

The Social Entrepreneurs are diverse in their offerings, but unite under some thoughts and philosophies of their projects, offered on the evening:

  • “We focus on what they can do, not what they can’t”
  • “ Become a Fellow, and give something back”
  • “Grow in confidence and it becomes a joy”
  • “When storms come crashing in all the time, Weebles wobble, but don’t fall down!”
  • “Turning can’ts into cans and dreams into plans”
  • “Exploring untapped potential, and seeing the Mentee become the Mentor”
  • “This is the problem ….. and this is what I’m going to do about it”
  • “Such an empowering model”
  • “People get boxed in by narrow perspectives”
  • “Building confidence and new life skills”
  • “Putting foundations in place”

Plenty there for a half decent coach to get their teeth stuck into! Thanks for an inspirational and heart warming evening.

Peter Lumley

Chair, Coaching York

October 2015

Coaching and return on investment (ROI)

Myles Downey, in ‘Effective Coaching – Lessons from the Coach’s Coach’ reminds us that:

“Coaches are not retained by organisations, and line managers are not expected to coach their direct reports, for fun. The coaching is expected to produce results – measurable returns – so let the ends define the means, let the outputs guide the inputs, let the required results from coaching inform the coaching approach”

It was against this backdrop and exhortation that The York Coaching Group met to discuss the subject of Return on Investment. Three speakers – Steve Gorton of Enabling Development, Andy Chilton of Velresco and Susan Binnersley of New Leaf shared their different (but reassuringly aligned) perspectives on the subject.

Despite the much loved Kirkpatrick model, there is much to suggest that the measurement of ROI has some way to go before it can be said to be a routine, reliable and robust part of the coaching experience – and, of course, until such time as that is the case, coaching will continue to have difficulty in answering the very legitimate question asked of businesses ‘How do I know it works – where’s the evidence?’

It’s easy to measure the things that are easy to measure. Those things that are hard to measure often don’t get the attention they deserve – it’s much easier to measure sales / profit / retention than values / beliefs / behaviours and yet, ironically, the former are dependent on the latter.

Three aspects of ROI were explored – a framework to explore the subject offered by Steve; a balanced view of the threats and opportunities (plus some neat software) from Andy; application of ROI within the Outplacement market from Susan (plus an entreaty to improve career coaching within schools).

Key points that struck me during the evening (in no particular order) were:

Steve (

  1. In response to David Clutterbuck’s provocation that ‘It’s a waste of time, it’s too expensive’, coaching should be focused on the Significant, Substantial and Sustainable. (Big returns warrant effort in evaluation)
  2. We’re after soft skills for hard results, not t’other way round
  3. Design the coaching for value right from the start – 3 or 4 way contracting, clarity of business focus, work with those who can really make a difference
  4. Evaluation doesn’t need to be difficult – weekly assessments, self designed assessment processes, getting the ethos right, working within frameworks, learning logs, 360, informal feedback and end of programme questions – should be within most people’s grasp
  5. The serendipity of the ‘What Else?’ question can flag up some great and unexpected Returns

Andy (

  1. Where every £ has to compete for impact, we need to reposition organisational thinking about Evaluation – It’s not ‘soft and fluffy crap!
  2. But …. demonstrating the impact can be problematic – we can get so absorbed in the measurement we forget the point (It’s about Outcomes, coaching is simply the vehicle to get there)
  3. There are threats if we don’t do it (increased expectations, price erosion, market saturation, over regulation) and opportunities if we do do it (enhanced personal and sectoral reputation, referrals, more 360, reduced admin time if done well)
  4. Ultimately success or otherwise is measured by the coachee – whatever that means to them

Susan (

  1. There’s a spectrum of response to outplacement coaching, from those organisations who don’t offer it, through those who do but are really not interested in the outcomes, to those who do and care
  2. It should be made accessible to everybody, not just senior people
  3. The four stages of the process – Stabilise / Explore / Secure / Perform – provide a great framework for evaluation
  4. Whilst the quantifiable outcomes (x% back in work within y weeks) are tangible and pleasing, it’s the qualitative outcomes – increased confidence, greater resilience, more positive attitude that enable the quantifiable outcomes.
  5. Sometimes a fair amount of work is required at the ‘Stabilise’ stage before moving on – there is an art in knowing when people are ready to move on
  6. The result of getting it right is enabling people to ‘Grow old with no regrets’

What a lovely epitaph!


Peter Lumley

September 2015

Leaders: born or made?

“It’s an age old question. Are leaders born or made. And if they’re made can we return them under warranty?” (Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle)

“… and, if they’re made, how do we keep them in top condition?” (Steve Gorton, Enabling Development)

Reflecting on Leadership

If leadership is so important, why are effective business leaders so rare?
Who can you identify as a truly effective leader in your own experience?
What links Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher?
Why do people so often separate the act of leadership from the leader?
Is leadership as something people do rather than who they are?
Are we now experiencing a greater culture of managerialism than leadership across practices and politics?
As business and society moves from the machine age through the information age towards the biological age, how fit for purpose are the traditional methods of “leadership” through position power and command and control? (Think dictatorship in business and government)
Can we become leaders through academic study or is it a “contact sport”?
Is a more holistic and balanced approach the way forward?

Inspirational Leaders

• know who they are
• direct rather than dictate
• recognise sensitive points in the system
• make choices – palatable and unpalatable
• bridge the gap between reality and vision

Powerful voices and profound contributions

Inspirational Leaders understand who they are, tend to have a more powerful voice and make a more profound contribution any organisation. My own script has two versions:

Academic – “Leaders lead by virtue of who they are. If leaders want to be more effective with others they first need to be more effective with themselves”.

 Real life – “Until you get your own act together, how can you help anyone else get their act together?”

So what does this mean in your context?

  • What do you exhibit to your colleagues and clients?
  • Would they follow you – even just out of curiosity?
  • What more do you now want to do to enhance your leadership style?

Steve Gorton
May 2015


Steve Gorton works primarily as an executive coach to help people start thinking again, bake bigger cakes and make that change from management to an inspirational leader. He is a founder member of Coaching York.
After his MBA he founded Enabling Development and is a visiting lecturer at Hull, Manchester and the Open University Business schools. He can be contacted via Coaching York or +44 07939 023285


Ting and the art of listening


The sound of Listening

A cup of coffee with a new colleague recently introduced me to the Chinese word for ‘Listening’ – always good to add some depth to the core skills of coaching, training or consultancy – all of which disciplines happen to contribute to the Lumley weekly crust.

Now why would I be interested in some Chinese linguistics? After all, I am well versed in tried and trusted Western models based on identifying various layers or levels of listening (from Ignoring through Pretend, Selective and Attentive to Empathic Listening).

The Ladder of Listening

One way of capturing these ideas in a practical way is through mnemonic acronyms such as the Ladder of Listening. It goes like this:

Look at the person
Ask questions
Don’t interrupt and
Don’t make assumption
Emotions (be aware of yours!) and finally

Now helpful as this acronym is, it’s built around a sort of process, reminding you to build six elements into a conversation. Like many acronyms it has its complications – you have two letters referring to the same word (don’t) which actually isn’t what you’re trying to remember (don’t…. what was it again?). And the last letter is a bit of a fudge. It isn’t so much that you want to “repeat” what you have heard so much as “summarise.” But “summarise” wouldn’t work with the acronym.


So what is this Chinese word for listening and why do I find it so attractive and intriguing? The word is ‘Ting’, which sounds like it should have something to do with listening anyway (I hear the tinkling of a small brass bell) and, as you can see from the Chinese character below, it constitutes four elements – an ear, ten eyes, a heart, and a king.

ting v2

Loosely translated, it reads ‘listen with your ear – but with ten eyes, your whole heart and as if listening to your king’. Now that summarises the whole idea in a single visual image. Powerful and compact I would say.

‘I give you my ears, my eyes, my undivided attention and my heart’ has, to me, rather more of a flow to it than negotiating a ladder.

One of the more useful cups of coffee I’ve had in a long time!

Peter Lumley
April 2015



Peter Lumley is the Chair of Coaching York and the principal of Realise Change, a consultancy that specialises in realising personal, team and organisational change through coaching, training, and consultancy. His website is

Spotlight on Supervision

Several local events and a blog about coaching supervision by Steve Page…

The proportion of coaches in the UK who report having supervision of their work has more than doubled in the last eight years, from 44% in the 2006 to 92% in 2014 (according to a presentation by Eve Turner and Peter Hawkins of their 2014 survey findings at the Oxford Brookes International Coaching Supervision conference).

The main reasons for coaches receiving supervision are that:

  • Supervision supports the development and the continuing learning of the coach,
  • It acts as a quality control mechanism, safeguarding the interests of coach, coachee and, where relevant, their sponsoring organisation,
  • Many organisations that employ coaches consider supervision to be a mark of best practice. In the Turner & Hawkins survey, 66.7% of organisational respondents said they expect their coaches to have supervision.

There are coaches who question the value of supervision, some seeing it as an unnecessary and money making oriented activity. Having come into coaching from a therapeutic background in which regular supervision is a professional requirement, I am entirely satisfied that supervision continues to enhance my coaching and therapy work and forms an important part of my self-care. Working as I do from a relational perspective I know that at times I need an ‘external’ reference point to enable me to make sense of the layers of dynamics that may be present in a coaching encounter.

If you would like to find out more about supervision there are a number of opportunities to do so, some in the York area:

July 13th – 17th is International Supervision Week, with a variety of live online events being hosted by

October 3rd a national supervision conference is being held in York;

October 12-13th a two-day introductory coaching supervision training workshop is being offered by Chapel House training and consultancy. For more information email:

Finally, in June, Bernadette Cass and I ran an evening workshop on coaching supervision, as part of the masterclass series Bernadette hosts. We are considering running another and also offering a coaching supervision group. If you are interested in either and would like to be on our mailing list please email or

Steve Page