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Edie Seashore: On Coaching

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Interview of Edie Seashore by Dorothy Siminovitch

Note: Several days after this extraordinary interview was posted in the Library of Professional Coaching we were informed of the passing of Edie Seashore. This very sad event (occuring soon after the passing of Edie’s husband, Charles Seashore) makes the wisdom conveyed by Edie Seashore in this interview that much more poignant. We have lost a pioneer and explorer in the fields of human relations training, organization development and professional coaching. Fortunately, she has left behind a legacy through not only her writing (including this interview) but also the many women and men she trained, educated, coached and mentored. We will long remember and appreciate this legacy.

Edith Whitfield Seashore, M.A., 84, has more than fifty years of experience in training and consulting with governments and corporations in organizational development and behavior. She is a past president of the NTL Institute and has served as faculty of the Johns Hopkins Fellows Program in Change Management. She is the co‐founder of the American University/NTL Institute Master’s Program in Organization Development and continues as a faculty member in that program. She has co‐edited The Promise of Diversity as well as the book co-authored What Did You Say? The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback. and Triple Impact Coaching.

Edie and DorothyDorothy:  Edie, I take the honor of interviewing you, with particular reference to the great Kurt Lewin who said that “there is nothing as practical as a good theory”.  Long before there was research on female leadership which pointed to the practicality of women in leadership, or academic studies of mastery in practice, or the concept of generativity applied to leadership, you have embodied all these concepts.

As President of NTL (National Training Laboratory), and a steward of OD field , you have seen the field evolve over these last fifty years. You have stood as a pillar of practice and mentored many leaders in the field of OD. You have also been witness and agent to the practice of coaching in the OD field and a pioneer in using “feedback” conceptually and practically to assist professional development of practitioners and executives. I say these large accomplishments to “set the ground” for our interview and formally ask: “From your perspective of the evolution in the applied behavioral sciences, where do you start with your understanding of coaching?

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