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Edie Seashore: On Coaching

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Coaching was now a formalized system now—something that had just been an expectation we carried with us wherever we went as group trainers or group facilitators or as OD consultants. Our values as OD consultants were to some extent part of the coaching field, that is the values of  collaborating with the client; building personal and systemic support systems; working off of sound and current data; engaging recipients in the change process; contracting for continual feedback; working effectively with differences of all kinds, approaching situations with curiosity; intentional, conscious use of self; empowering myself and supporting others to empower themselves and thinking systemically.

Douglas McGregor [who wrote about theory X and theory Y]  was [another one of my mentors], and he did a lot of informal coaching for me.  Informal, I mean, we’d have dinner and talk.  That was coaching.

Dorothy:  Absolutely.  The “coaching conversation” as the vehicle of dialogue, meaning-making and possibility.

Edie:  Totally.  And to these days I use some of those as my marching orders.

After that, Hal Kellner was another mentor when I went out in the field. Hal was a member of NTL. He and I did a lot of work together.  But, he was way ahead of me in the way he was able to perceive what was going on. Cathy Royal and Fred Miller coached me about the critical role of diversity and inclusion in the world. My African American colleagues have taught me so much. They have coached me.  “Oh, my God, Edie, how could you possibly have done that?”  And to this day—just a month ago—I had a whole day with one of these colleagues. She and I were trying to write an article about the way that white women and women of color, or really African Americans, see the world that gets us into trouble rather than collaborating elaboratively. An incident came up that was very critical back in the mid-80s, when my colleague and I were working together. She offered me an insight. If I’d had this insight during the mid-80s my history would have been in a different place I think.

Dorothy:  And what was that insight?

Edie:  She said something very interesting.  She said, “I always observed that all of the African American women you were mentoring often stayed at your house.” Then she named off about 10.  She was dead right about all that.  And she said, “And I was one of them.”  I said, “That’s true.”  And she said, “So, you go from mentoring to a colleague, from mentee to a colleague to a coworker to a co-leader, and then in the end, Edie, you own the store.”

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