In The Future of Coaching we endeavor to present a wide variety of topics—ranging from an issue on the evidence for coaching to an issue on coaching and vulnerability. We are also beginning to offer issues that come in diverse formats. The issue that immediately preceded this one, for instance, consisted completely of coaching tools and strategies. In the current issue, we are offering yet another format: essays that are all authored by one person (often as a prelude to publication of a book). In this case, the author is one of us (WB) and the essays are prelude to publication of a new book.
William Bergquist has written many books over the past forty-five years—one of the most noteworthy being The Postmodern Organization (1993) (which has been identified by some observers as one of the founding publications in the emerging field of postmodern organizational theory). Bergquist has recently decided to move beyond postmodern theory as it applies to organizational interventions and organizational coaching and consulting. He has engaged the perspectives of a noted philosopher, Richard Rorty, and his focus on irony and contradiction in contemporary life.
For Bergquist, this has meant an exploration of the way in which irony and contradiction plays out in 21st Century organizations – and, in particular how contemporary leaders work with irony and contradictions. The implications for those doing professional coaching in organizations are abundant. This issue of The Future of Coaching is all about these implications.
The first essay “Living in a World of Irony” briefly introduces the topic and Richard Rorty’s perspective.
In “Multiple Perspectives and Multiple Truths” the challenge of irony and contradiction are further explored making use of insights offered not only by Richard Rorty, but also by the noted psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. Implications for coaches are introduced.
The third essay moves directly into the challenges of leadership midst complexity, uncertainty, turbulence – and contradiction.
A continuing focus on leadership is to be found in the fourth essay. The implications of irony and contradiction for leaders are identified for each of three specific styles of leadership.
In Essay Five, the author turns to broader organizational dynamics – those involving the role played by character and culture in organizational settings. What happens when there are contradictory and often competing cultures operating in an organization? How do we as coaches and leaders address these contradictions.