“To have a foot in an activism movement, a foot in professional life, and a foot in different forums, we Coaches can really be a useful conduit and bridge,” noted Executive Coach Zoe Cohen, of Shine Coaching and Consultancy. In recent years Zoe has taken steps to bring her personal passion regarding climate change to a broader audience and bring professional Coaching skills to her climate and sustainability related activism and activities.
“In the last 18 months… I’ve been focused really on breaking the wall down between that kind of professional self and the rest of my true self, my values in terms of what I care about most which is fundamentally the biosphere,” Zoe explained. She searched for ways to merge the two while maintaining coaching ethics, especially the ICF Code of Ethics.
By late 2018 she had become frustrated to the point that she wanted to go public with her concerns regarding the seriousness of Climate and Ecological Breakdown . She did so in an article she wrote on LinkedIn January 30, 2019 called ‘Where were all the coaches when the planet warmed by 3 degrees?’ –https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/where-were-all-coaches-when-planet-warmed-3-degrees-zoe-cohen/ . “I got lots of comments and responses, and conversations off the back of that,” Zoe recalls. Now she strives to be “much more open and explicit about what we actually do as coaches and the impact we make for good and for bad, bringing a kind of activism flavor to what we do and how we do it.”
Zoe notes that there are many coaches out there involved in various social change organizations who seek the same balance and who have developed appropriate approaches. Zoe makes her values and activism clear and transparent to all potential clients in the initial chemistry conversation. Acknowledging a wide range of ways to bring the climate and ecological crisis into the client’s awareness, Zoe is very clear that this is not about bringing in the ‘coach’s agenda’, but rather just raising her client’s awareness of reality. When clients are examining their purpose, values and goals, she might for example, connect their conversations to their role as parents and the needs of future generations. “Thinking about the kind of world my client’s children are going to grow up in can lead to the broader conversation,” she explains.
Zoe has developed her own model for how to be a ‘Climate Conscious Coach’ and has delivered a series of webinars for UK ICF, which are free of charge for all to access. She regularly spends volunteer time presenting digestible summaries of the essential climate and ecological science to a wide range of audiences. She also seeks opportunities to bring coaching skills to the social/activist organizations as well, including in her role as a member of Extinction Rebellion. She also cites the ICF Foundation’s Ignite pro bono Coaching as an example of where partner organizations can benefit from the coaching. “We can use our skill sets in a whole range of ways within our networks and organizations as well as in our coaching,” says Zoe, encouraging coaches to find their best approach for building bridges.
Zoe Cohen, PCC, of Shine Coaching and Consultancy, has been a full time external Executive Coach for more than a decade and lives in United Kingdom. After graduating in Human Sciences at Oxford, Zoe went into management in the NHS, and then studied Public Health at the University of Liverpool, and working 18 years in UK public services, she pursued her Coaching Masters at Ashridge Business School, making the career change in 2009. Below is a list of resources for further information from Zoe on climate issues and becoming a climate conscious coach:
Zoe Cohen’s article in AC magazine, Coaching Perspectives, January 2020 – “How to be a Climate Conscious Coach”- https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JOlqQHnfIdGrSQjw1y6QqhjwZ-xzO-pM
Webinar on an overview of the science for coaches – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwlVVxhrI8w&t=3474s