CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 14 June 2002

Brought to you by the Brefi Group: "Developing your business through strategy, facilitation and executive coaching – internationally."

Web site:
Editor: Richard Winfield,
Subscribers: 2450 copies, worldwide

Welcome to this issue of CorporateCoach – a free newsletter for senior executives and teams in organisations interested in using coaching to improve corporate performance. Please share it with colleagues and contacts who will benefit from reading it.

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HOT NEWS: Wheel of Life. The starting point for any coaching is a quick review of the various constituents of your current lifestyle. Maybe just a look at the balance, or – for a life coaching session – a rather more in-depth review. The Brefi website now has an interactive Wheel of Life. Please check it out and let us know what you think.

Do you have a web site that could use a Wheel of Life? Contact us to add ours to your site – fully customised to fit on your page in your style. No charge!


  1. Editorial: The value of reflection
  2. Coaching notes: Family roles at work
  3. Book review: The Psychology of Executive Coaching
  4. Tools notes: Powerful coaching questions for all occasions

CLIENT COMMENT: "My mind was blown when I realised the difference between teaching and coaching. And then when I started to address the process of meetings with questions (rather than providing solutions), my communication and relationships improved."
Nigel Berridge, Head of Multi Media Marketing, Orange.

1.     Editorial: The value of reflection

I had to get up early recently to take part in an interview on Radio 5 Live on time management. The theme of the programme was "What would you do with an extra hour each day?" I answered "I would do nothing. I would use it for quiet reflection".

I have been publishing the new eNewsletter 'Career Coach', edited by Margaret Stead. In the May editorial she describes a phone call to her mother in hospital. Her mother said she was enjoying her stay because it was giving her more time to 'reflect'.

Margaret says that in years of interviewing senior people and asking them to look back, they say that if they could lead their lives again they would be more 'reflective'. They got so caught up in the doing that they often lost sight of the meaning.

What would you do with an extra hour? Would you use it to achieve more – or to improve the quality of your life? Is there a difference? Your choice, your life.

Executive coaching is getting an increasingly high profile. It is interesting to report what others say. Here is an extract from the Sunday Telegraph Business File: -

"Coaching can be useful when:

  • you are newly promoted to the board
  • learning to chair meetings
  • addressing staff
  • making board decisions
  • directing change
  • dealing with tension at home
  • handling tricky staff
  • managing stress."

WORKSHOPS: Next executive coaching workshops in Birmingham

"The exercises were very enlightening. Very useful."
Robert Stead, Creative Support Ltd

These regular workshops at the IoD hub, Birmingham, UK, introduce the key techniques used in Brefi Group Corporate Coaching. Suitable for all senior and HR staff.

Book on-line now for the next workshops: -

Tuesday 18 June, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. (15)
Tuesday 18 June, 5.30 p.m. – 7.30 p.m. (15)
Tuesday 16 July, 2.30 p.m. – 4.30 p.m. (15)
Tuesday 16 July, 5.30 p.m. – 7.30 p.m. (15)

Or recommend a colleague.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to talk to one of our consultants or arrange an in-house workshop or individual coaching, then call 07970 891 343 or contact us.

2.     Coaching notes: Family roles at work

Family therapy and systems thinking transfers powerfully into corporate coaching. Family therapists examine the system, not the individual.

Similarly, a corporate coach examines the system and the roles that executives take on in the workplace.

Individuals may be assigned too many different and demanding roles in an organisation, sometimes expectations of different roles may pull a person in different directions, and sometimes they are assigned roles that are intrinsically incompatible.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice the rules and norms. The person is not the role, and a coach can often say things that could never be spoken by employees or team members, but when the coach speaks them, they can then be heard and acknowledged, and no insider has to take the blame.

Here are some definitions of roles you might be able to identify in your own organisation (taken from our book of the month below):

Star:This person is accorded star status in the organisation. He or she is treated as special, and generally performs at a very high level. Inadequacies are minimised and mistakes are ignored. The star's future is assumed to be quite bright.

Blamer: This person always seeks to blame someone for everything that goes poorly. When things don't come out the way the organisation wants, someone must be to blame. This person reliably points this out.

Hero: This person's job is to "save the day". Whenever the organisation is in a tight spot, he or she gets involved and makes things work out. The hero makes the big sale or gets the team through an accreditation or inspection.

Rebel: These people don't quite fit in. They are highly autonomous, and they usually don't follow the rules. They dress differently, think differently, and behave differently, and they get away with it, for the most part. Top management finds them annoying, but they are often good at what they do.

Martyr: This person endures constant suffering on behalf of the organisation or its members, typically to get and keep a certain kind of attention.

Scapegoat: This person bears and accepts the blame for the team when things go poorly.

Distractor: This person does things that take attention away from the team's problems or difficulties. He or she finds other things to which the team should attend.

Cheerleader: This person stays on the sidelines most of the time and encourages others to take action. He or she does not take risks or get directly involved in anything difficult.

Jester: This person creates humour compulsively. Jokes and laughter distract the team from difficulties and problems. This can be delightful and it can be annoying.

Invalid: This person is often sick or damaged in some way, so that he or she cannot always take on or complete difficult assignments. Additional stress is too much for the invalid.

Placater: This person can be counted on to appease people when things get difficult. They never confront things. They always back down.

Oldest/Favoured Son: This person is given special treatment and has extra responsibility. He or she often serves as a trusted go-between for leadership and other layers of an organisation. He or she gets subtle benefits and opportunities that others don't get, but is expected to take some responsibility for the behaviour of the "younger siblings."

Mascot: This person is kept around for good luck. Mascots are treated as if they were cute and somehow good for the team, but they are not actually expected to contribute much of substance.

Saint: These people never think, say, or do anything wrong. They are above it all, and behave virtuously, even when such behaviour is not completely appropriate or realistic. They behave as if they are better than others. People treat them this way.

Sceptic: This person can be relied upon to cast doubt, especially when optimists or creative people come up with new ideas for the team. The sceptic will throw cold water on them every time.

So. Look around you and notice the roles that you and your colleagues play. Then notice how the behaviour of others, the habits of the organisation, reinforce the role playing. Is everybody happy with the expectations and duties associated with their roles, and how they are expected to behave in them? Are they most effective when behaving within these roles? What would have to be different for them to behave more effectively?

3.     Book review: The Psychology of Executive Coaching

Normally I review books that I have discovered, and have bought for myself. The Psychology of Executive Coaching: theory and application by Bruce Peltier was sent to me by the publisher. (Definitely a habit to encourage!) Further, whereas I generally read business books, this is an academic book, packed with references and recommended readings. It was written to help psychotherapists and other mental health professionals find ways to break into the field of executive coaching, and blend their skills with the corporate environment.

I come from the corporate environment and have learned my skills through NLP and a wide reading in other applied fields, much of which has been built on the application of psychology to organisations and personal change. What Peltier has produced is a book that reviews the whole range of therapeutic psychology. In fact for a business reader it does the converse of its defined purpose and places executive coaching in the context of the source psychology. It brought me little that was new, but acted as a fascinating consolidation and revision.

For coaches interested in learning how we got to where we are, or developing or revising their coaching skils, this is a fascinating read. As well as dealing with the psychological fields of the person-centred approach, cognitive psychology, family therapy and systems thinking, hypnotic communication, social psychology and the existential stance, it covers the difference between coaching and counselling, lessons from athletic coaches, ethics in coaching and making the transition from the world of therapy to the workplace world of the corporate coach.

This is a serious, but not a difficult read. Not for the general reader, but well worthwhile to anyone who takes executive coaching seriously. It could well become a standard text on courses for executive coaches.

HOT TIP: The Brefi Group web site is packed with information – over 350 pages including 80 pages of downloadable forms and learning resources. Remember to use the site search facility. You may be surprised just how much you will find about what you are looking for.

4.     Tools notes: Powerful coaching questions for all occasions

A coach's job is to help clients stand back and take an introspective look at themselves. It is about thinking laterally, getting a confidence boost with an independent third party. It is also our job to teach the process so that the client can both self-coach and coach others.

A lot of coaching involves asking questions, exploring situations to understand them better or to generate another perspective.

Here are some standard questions that you can use to discover more: -

  • What does this mean for me?
  • What might it mean to others?
  • How might other people see it?
  • How will it appear to me in three years' time?
  • How does being like this help?
  • How does being like this hinder?
  • What would be better than this?
  • What would be even better still?
  • What did I do to get this way?
  • What causes it? What drives it?
  • How is it a function of the system in which I operate?
  • Who are the key players in this environment/system?
  • What other environments/systems do I operate in?
  • What would be the best question to ask now?

If you have any more questions that you find useful, please let us know.

We aim to make the Brefi Group web site family the premier UK developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.

THIS IS A FREE PUBLICATION! Please SHARE it willingly with a friend or colleague who could benefit from knowing more about corporate coaching.

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If you enjoyed this newsletter, you might also enjoy Career Coach for those interested in using coaching to improve their career performance.

Brefi Group is a change management organisation that provides corporate coaching, consultancy, facilitation and training. We can also advise you an your Internet strategy and design web sites.

Be sure to visit the Brefi Group web site at

We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

Telephone: +44 (0) 121 288 3417