Requesting Your Feedback: Leading Coaches’ Playground

Hi!  If you are like me, you’ve been coaching in organizations for more than a decade, working with leaders and teams at various strategic and interpersonal levels of leadership, and you’ve been hungry for the camaraderie of top peers with which to engage in a higher conversation.  Perhaps you’ve sought out and participated in the various communities that exist in the coaching industry.  Or, perhaps like me, you’ve invested time and energy into building new communities.

Are your needs being met?

Do you find that on many occasions the work of coaches who deal with organizational dynamics, leadership, and corporate challenges are lumped into one group with all coaches?  Our work is really different from that of life coaches or sports coaches, and our challenges, best practices, and playing field are unique.  Should we perhaps be a distinct profession?  At the very least, we need a place to come together to support each other, co-create, contribute, and create colleagueship in service to the stewardship of the work we do as coaches in business.  Together, we have the capacity to impact leadership and business and government far in excess of the results we can each create on our own.  That’s why I am setting forth to build a new community.  A new forum for those of us who coach in organizations, with a focus on leadership.  As an executive coach for 16 years, I’ve been seeking a particular tribe or community of like-minded colleagues who aim to synergistically change the face of business leadership globally.
The super-short video below (it’s 2 and a half minutes long) is an introduction to the community I want to build:  The Leading Coaches’ Playground.  Please share your comments below about this concept, this video intro, and what you think it needs…oh, and please share this with anyone you think fits the description!

Comments (22)

Hi Suzi,
I think this is a great idea… curious about the details? Is this a community that generates itself, or is this a community that is generated by you for a fee? Two very different models..
Hope you are well?
Hoping to be in your part of the world in November for STate of the World forum.

Great question, Christine! This playground community will be a free community that will initially be my hand-picked colleagues and then it will evolve into a self-generated model that attracts like-minded, high-caliber, seasoned professionals who coach in a business context. What would you seek in such a community?

Good Luck Suzi, community building is a lot of work! mike

Thanks, Mike! Yes, I know! What would compel you to play, if anything? What needs of yours could a community of corporate coaching “elders” provide?

Very creative and exciting, Suzi. How does this differ from the services, advocacy, and representation of associations like ICF and ICCO? Also, you mention that it will be for “leaders” only? How will that be determined? I like that particular idea but I don’t want to be perceived as “elite.” Cindy

Hi, Cindy. Thanks for taking a look! I don’t actually feel like the ICF does a good job of representing or caring for the unique needs of those of us who are executive coaches who have been in the industry for 16 years, etc. ICCO is good, and has a very important and unique place in the world, and I will continue to participate (as I’m now on the advisory board), however it doesn’t have an advocacy role in defining and distinguishing our work from the rest of the coaching profession, which I think is now what there is for us to do. I expect the conversation will unfold as this launches and builds, and as we see who wants to play in this game with me. For me, the leaders will be self-selected and that will largely happen based on the level of conversation we’re having. I envision it being inclusive, and at a very high level. Those who are not playing at that level of leadership in their coaching business will likely find their needs met at ICF, IAC, WABC, etc.

I like the idea of the tribe you want to build here. I’m also conscious of how much time it takes to really contribute to a tribe, and how many of these sort of things I’ve signed up for and don’t really participate in. You could say I’m something of a non-active member in ICF, CTI, TCE, ICCO, CAM, yahoo groups, not to mention Plaxo, LinkedIn, FB, etc etc. And that’s just coach connectors.
For this to be compelling in that it created active engagement from me not just a passive “this sounds nice I’ll sign up” sort of thing, it feels like I’d need a twist on it, something more specific and more differentiated.

Yes, I have had my own concerns about the time it takes to build a tribe, however I’ve been sort of doing that for the last 16 years in this business without really formalizing it as a tribe, per se. I’d love to bring the great minds together to meet each other and co-create something powerful. I, too, have signed on for all the groups you mention above. What are you seeking? I agree that it must be something more than just being plugged in with other coaches. For me, the possibility of this playground for leaders is that we can create the “something more specific and differentiated” that you speak of. In my mind, I’d love to differentiate coaching in business as a distinct profession, and un-enmesh us from the larger coaching industry as a whole, which I often feel caters mostly to life coaches. Leadership coaches, executive coaches, team coaches, etc.—-we have really unique circumstances and situations and I’ve been seeking a place to learn from colleagues in the same game, and perhaps co-create stuff together, and come together to impact the market as a whole. I’d love to have a conversation with you about what WOULD be something so powerful and compelling that it would create active engagement for you?

Hi, Suzi! I applaud your commitment and willingness to invest in our field of endeavor. Am not clear about the model – even seeing your response to Christine above, and agreeing with Mike that this sort of thing can take a huge amount of time and effort – once the initial group has expressed interest, what happens from there? Is there an expected time or money commitment? How do the resources get generated? Coaches are a funny lot, even at the top of the pack – we need lots of choice and flexibility, but from your perspective it will be hard to build something that adds consistent and ongoing value unless there’s some predictability about what it offers and who’s involved. And how do you get compensated for your own efforts? So many questions!! I agree in principle that there isn’t currently a community or forum dedicated to our work, although WABC is creating something that has aspects of your intent, I think. Personally, I do love the opportunity to talk with and brainstorm with people like you who are at the top of this profession. That said, I don’t know how much more I could add into my already busy world, so I worry about whether I could participate in such a community as a contributor in a meaningful way. So in response to the general idea, I think it would be terrific to have access to a brilliant group of people who do what I do, but I’m not clear enough on the specifics of the concept to say whether or not I would see myself participating. And finally, if the community is intended to represent these coaches publicly, I’m not sure I’d call it a playground – that’s a fun descriptor for internal purposes but might not present the appropriate tone if used for external communications. Happy to chat further any time – let me know if I can help.

Thanks, Karen! The model for this playground community would not require any expected time or money commitment on the members’ part. So far, I’m footing the bill! 🙂 I have played on the outskirts of WABC as I have with all the other coaching communities out there over the last 16 years, and while they are all fantastic groups of people with great stuff to offer, many of them come close but so far I’ve yet to find one community that really meets my needs, so that’s the impetus behind this new venture. It’s all about my needs! 🙂 Just kidding. I figure, if I haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for, there are others with the same needs, and why not play together? That said, what WOULD compel you to participate? What needs of yours haven’t yet been met in any of the existing communities for coaches? I still plan to participate in all that I already do: ICF, IAC, TCE, ICCO, CAM, IJCO, ECS, and various coaching groups on Linked In, yahoo, etc. For me this is about stewardship on steroids. Let’s BE the leaders we create in the world, and let’s make coaching in businesses a distinct profession. It’s not that the playground language would be used to represent coaches publicly (I agree with you there!), it is that the playground would give way to real leadership of a differentiated profession for executive coaches et al.

Great visual presentation! I love your spirit of growth and stewardship for coaching! My immediate reaction is that it would be tough for me to see taking more time for another coaching organization – I think my needs are met for networking and best practices – where I do think collaboration and “play” are really relevant for me as a leader in this category are in writing and speaking about leadership and leadership development. If you were putting together an online speakers bureau or expert bureau I would be more inclined to pay attention. I also think limiting the size of the group would make it more compelling. Hope this is relevant/ helpful! 😉

I am interested in the possibility. I would like to expand my community of excellent executive coaches so I have more people to learn from, contribute to, and decompress with. (That’s three prepositions with which I ended a sentence! A triumph of clarity over correctness or evidence of my subversive tendencies?)
What’s next, leader of leaders?

Thanks, Tony! I give you full permission to use prepositions at the end of sentences. 🙂
Thanks, Karlin…very helpful! I’m looking to engage a small handful for starters to further define, clarify, and identify what’s needed. Definitely a focus on leadership and leadership development resonates. That’s likely one of the key differentiators. Looking forward to our call on Thursday!

I am impressed with your energy and follow through and the way you present your ideas. Yes, I am definitely interested in a group that speaks to the executive/leadership development coach and to raising the bar on the level of conversations among coaches in this arena. I appreciate some of the comments from others about structure and time, but maybe people interested in making this distinction in the coaching field can create a different space and construct these structures as they come together. However, one aspect of your presentation that I’m not comfortable with (and this is stylistic but important to me) is the choice of wording about playground and some of the visuals you’ve used. I’m interested in elevating the executive/leadership coaching conversation to a more professional, educated, credible level based on research and data that demonstrates value. So the “play” concept doesn’t do it for me, but I also acknowledge that’s because of my style. Yet, it makes me hesitate because there are other coach organizations that use “play” and “fun” language to the degree that I get turned off. I’m not looking for learning and connection that’s advertised as “cool” and fun; I’m looking for learning and connection that deepens my understanding and elevates my performance as a coach.
Ginny O’Brien

Dear Ginny,
Thank you for your comments and feedback! It is very helpful. I completely agree with you as to the purpose and elevation, and the language of playground for me is just “internal” language for us to use as we come together. It wouldn’t be the face of what we present to the business world as our work product, of course. And yes, I would expect professionals of this caliber to be able to create a different space and construct the structures together. I certainly don’t have any answers! I’m just so ready for this kind of a community for my own learning and growth, that I want to start the conversation and create/hold the space for it to take shape. Where it goes from there is up to the leaders who come together to create it! 🙂 To me, that kind of work is play, and perhaps this is having me re-think the concept of what play means at this stage of our careers? Truly it’s about stewardship and excellence in the results we produce for leaders. Am I demeaning that in some way by calling play? Hmmm. Thanks for making me think!

Hi Suzi,
I am interested in participating. Keep us apprised as your thinking evolves. How about an online format for group brainstorming?

Hi, Stephen! I’m so delighted you’re interested in playing. My thinking will evolve as it becomes OUR thinking. I do think an online format for brainstorming is a great idea. For now we can use my blog, and once we build the next phase of this leaders’ community, we’ll have a website that will incorporate some platform for streaming conversation. That is my dream…a twitter-like conversation for leading coaches to engage in real time, sharing best practices, co-creating, advancing and advocating for a distinct profession, etc. Hmmm…executive coaching 2.0? 🙂

Hi Suzi,
Thanks for contacting me about this. Agreeing with you that none of the current organizations adequately meet the needs of senior and leading executive coaching, I have some of the same questions about potential benefits (publishing and speaking, library resources, etc) but I do not think all of this needs to be spelled out in advance. What would attract me is the quality of the people involved and knowing who they are, as well as having it be select in the sense of discerning. There is a distinction between wanting to work and play with peers and being elitist.
What I don’t see in any of the comments (and this may be intentional and have a good reason behind it) are: any references to global work and competencies associated with companies profoundly affected by political, social, regional economic and culturally diverse trends and issues. This appears to be primarily a North American focussed group…or am I perhaps missing something? I train global executive coaches, and we also feel that our profession is distinctive. Those of us who’ve been in the field for several decades also feel that much of the current “diversity” or “coaching across cultures” is missing some of the more complex issues in coaching global organizations and companies. The competencies involved in our field are far more complex than any of the coaching organizations have addressed, and we don’t feel it’s likely they will be addressed by organizations attempting to be all things to all coaches. So, I see what you are proposing as part of an emerging trend – high level think tank groups that are discerning in the members they invite so that their very precious time can be well used. Most of us who’ve been around for a long time have volunteered many, many hours, with varying degrees of ROI for ourselves or the profession. And, some of the larger organizations with huge memberships actually operate in a fairly elitist way, featuring the same people over and over, not paying attention to member input in a democratic way, and so on. I’m getting ready to write a few books, so that’s my focus at the moment (on Global Executive coaching) and just married so am settling into a new life in a new part of the world (UK and Europe, with a global perspective) after operating globally from North America. So, there’s very little “play” time in my coaching schedule. I’m getting very selective about where I spend it and where I contribute. Make sense?
Keep me in the loop….!

Thank you, Hannah, and congratulations on your marriage! 🙂 I appreciate your perspective on the global angle, and would love to have you engaged in this conversation ongoingly. I completely appreciate and respect the need to be selective, both with who we invite as well as where we spend our time and contribute. Given that, what would you want to see in a high level community of peers? What would really be a big enough, compelling enough vision to engage the time and attention of seriously busy folks with lots to offer?

Hi Suzi,
You know me. I was watching the video from a technical perspective first — I believe people will want to see more of YOU in the video and have it less scripted — the message is much “stickier” when it’s more natural.
I love the concept and I’m on board with anything Suzi Pomerantz is a part of!

Hi Suzi,
Love your initiative here taken with your usual infectious energy. I think it’s a great concept — especially if the filter for membership really produces a community of leaders who are seriously committed to mastery as coaches and significant impact in the world, not just marketing their services to each other. Not sure yet about my involvement — I am currently deeply involved in two master mind groups, a men’s group, the Newfield Network community, ICF, and just signed up for CAM 2010. If your concept could be a model for “social networking” among our particular tribe, using the latest technology to advantage and leveraging our time, I would be interested. Thanks for innovating on our behalf.

Thanks, Don! I have been leaning in that direction, yes. We are all over-involved in multiple communities, like you, and the last thing we need is just another place to connect without a clear, compelling purpose. Still working on that! 🙂 And, I’ve also signed up for CAM10, so I’ll see you in NM!

Leave a comment