Home Concepts Ethics Coaching For the Greater Good: Interview with Ruth Ann Harnisch

Coaching For the Greater Good: Interview with Ruth Ann Harnisch

2 min read

What does it mean to coaching on behalf of the greater good? How does one help clients be the best possible person FOR the world (rather than just IN the world)? Dr. William Bergquist conducts a 57 minute interview with Ruth Ann Harnisch, one of the legendary stewards of the professional coaching field. In many important ways, this field would not be what it is today without the leadership and thoughtful support provided by Ruth Ann Harnisch and The Harnisch Foundation.

The basic two questions being asked were:

Why do you do what you are now doing in supporting the field of professional coaching?

What are the most important outcomes of effective coaching “for the greater good”?

At the heart of the interview was exploration of a critical human capacity for Generativity: acting in an enduring manner on behalf of that which we care about most deeply.

Following is the recorded interview with Ruth Ann Harnisch:



The following quote from Ruth Ann Harnisch seems to sum up her own perspective on doing good FOR the world:

I work every day to apply my money and my moxie to the biggest problem in the world – untapped capacity. In my coaching, my grant-making, and my donor activities and organizations, I want to help people discover how much they’ve got and how to make the most of it for themselves and for others.

From this interview we can specifically derive several important points regarding ways in which to coach to the greater good. Here are several of these points:

  • We coach one person at a time and believe that any one of our coaching clients can have a major, positive impact on the world in which they live.
  • As a coach, it is our role to be an open and appreciative partner to our client. This sometime means that we must be direct and honest with our clients in challenging their own assumptions and perspectives about the world in which they live and work.
  • As citizens of a troubled 21st Century world, we are all traumatized by the polarizing, threatening and seemingly overwhelming challenges we face. As coaches, we can be there for our clients to help them engage this troubled world with courage and decency.
  • As citizens of the world, we can focus on an understanding rather than condemnation of the perspectives taken by people with whom we do not agree. Certain perspectives and actions, based in racism, classism and insensitivity are never acceptable and we must fight against these perspectives and actions — yet we must seek to move beyond our own anger and fear to find some communality and shared commitment with those who differ from us.
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  1. Rey Carr

    October 4, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    This is a terrific and informative interview. I really appreciated RuthAnn mentioning suffragist, philanthropist, future-thinker, Katharine Dexter McCormick and the influence she had on the research that led to the creation of the birth control pill, often considered the single most element that led to the liberation of women. She was remarkable not just because of her financial contributions, but she did so while coping with an extremely difficult relationship with a spouse beset by mental illness.

    RuthAnn also shares some unique insights (not at all covered by other post-debate journalists) from the recent presidential debate and the comments made. Her views about the role of coaching or how the debate might have been different had the participants been “coachable.” She posits the idea of generativity in coaching and how this can have on-going impact for years in the future.

    A former journalist and person who is known for not holding back in her viewpoints, RuthAnn shares her view on many cliches and events of our social world. These views are provocative, compelling, and worthy of contemplation.

    Every one on our planet should receive education in coaching skills, according to RuthAnn. This is another example of coaching becoming the greater good. Tune in to this interview to listen to a pioneer in journalism and advocate for coaching ignite your thinking about your own role as a coach and leader.

    And thanks to Bill Berquist who provided RuthAnn with key questions and actually listened to the answers.


  2. Suzi Pomerantz

    October 5, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Great interview! Love Ruth Ann’s wonderful acknowledgement of her coach, Renee Freedman in the ripple impact effect of all the lives and impact Ruth Ann has had.


  3. Dorothy Siminovitch

    October 13, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    wonderful interview-and such an inspiring human being, philanthropist. leader and coach.

    Thank you!!!


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