Ten tensions 10: authentic and flexible

10. Having a signature presence and the flexibility to be what the client needs

How we are professional and authentic is one way we express our signature presence. That will be individual for each of us. But clients need different things of us and we need to flex and draw on our repertoire, including those aspects of ourselves where we are less comfortable. Our signature presence is a product of how we manage all of the above tensions; it’s our individual balance. This is reflected in how we work, in how we embody our learning from the three paths. So in some ways, having both signature presence and flexibility is the culmination of how we work across all of these tensions. And as we each become sufficiently aware of how we do this then we can express who we are as coach. We can find our voice and let it be heard.

Embracing the tension

The ability to work with these tensions underpins a coach’s skill and their ability to work with a client. It is the bedrock of the relationship because it not only demonstrates the coach’s confidence and relaxed authority, but it also shows a way of being that engages with the world as it is: complex, contradictory, contingent and changing. It represents a new modality that cuts through and unifies what could be posed as choices-to-make or problems-to-solve. We see how they are a product of our usual “either-or” thinking, reflecting the limits of our language, and our attempt to make the world a simple, stable place.  So these apparent paradoxes disappear in the practice of the expert. When we do this well, we not only coach well, but we embody and model a way of being that cannot be taught but which our clients can learn and apply to resolve the tensions, paradoxes and contradictions that they encounter in their lives.

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