Category Archives: Coaching

Taking A Naval Approach to Culture Change

More on this story:

“Achieving culture change is more about getting managers to change the way they behave rather than frontline social workers.

This is never an easy task, but lessons can be learnt from the Australian Navy. In 2011 it was ordered to improve leadership at every level following reports detailing inefficient and out-dated practices as well as an alcohol fuelled culture across the service.

It’s new chief launched a systematic approach to cultural change, a key element of the programme was peer review: that is asking and telling colleagues if their behaviour had changed.”

Double Listening

I am interested in the coaching possibilities opened up by Winslade and Monk’s mediation technique of “double listening”. Drawing on the work of Michael White, they make note of the “absent but implicit” story of hope that sits alongside the voicing of a story of conflict:

“Mediators can give this story of hope for something better a chance if they first of all hear this absent but implicit hope and then begin to inquire into the story that it is a part of. The story may often by subordinate to the story of the outrage and pain, but it perhaps speaks to the person’s better intentions in relation to the other party. If given the chance for expression, these better intentions can give rise to a different story of the future” (Winslade and Monk 2008:10-11).

The expression of pain and suffering through remembered events and feelings can become a seed for hopeful reflections, not as a utopian aspiration, but as an awareness of the desire for a more positive experience that the pain and conflict reveal. I think the lessons of this “double listening” are not just relevant to formal mediation, but are also helpful in invitations to transformation more generally. What Winslade and Monk’s work draws attention to is how stories of the past also shape our stories of the future. It may be that “double listening” can further open up what John Paul Lederach (2005) calls our “moral imagination”, allowing for even deeper understandings of the complexities, paradoxes, and possibilities of being human.

In very simple terms, double listening opens up the notion that ‘complaint is a window on aspiration’, that every complaint that I utter can also be turned on its head as an aspiration to a better situation, an improvement on what is. Staying with the complaint and hanging out there can lead to a lot of negative energy that can easily suck hope dry. Turning a complaint on its head to work out what it tells me about my aspirations, hopes, and values can provide me with an opportunity for reflection, a window to the otherwise, a doorway to new possibilities.

Complaint or conflict can become, then, a diagnostic opportunity for new perspectives, rather than the direct route to blame and denigration that they can often be.


John Paul Lederach. 2005. The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace. Oxford: OUP.

John Winslade and Gerald Monk. 2008. Practicing Narrative Mediation: Loosening the Grip of Conflict. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Reading to inform, inspire, and ignite your exploration of leadership and culture change (Oct 2014)

David Abrams. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Vintage Books.

Les Back. 2007. The Art of Listening. Oxford: Berg.

Marc Ian Barasch. 2005. Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness. New York: Rodale.

Bernard M. Bass. 1995. “Theory of Transformational Leadership Redux.” Leadership Quarterly 6(4), 463-478.

Gregory Bateson. 1973. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Frogmore, St. Albans: Paladin.

Annabel Beerel. 2009. Leadership and Change Management. London: Sage.

David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, eds. 2012. The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. Amherst, MA: Levellers Press.

David Bornstein. 2007. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. New York: Oxford University Press.

Richard E. Boyatzis and A. McKee. 2005. Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Peter R. Breggin. 1997. The Heart of Being Helpful: Empathy and the Creation of a Healing Presence. New York: Springer Publishing.

Brené Brown. 2012. Daring Greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable tranforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.

Bernard Burnes. Managing Change. Harlow: FT/Prentice Hall. (Most recent edition)

Pema Chödrön. 2003. Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion. Boston: Shambala.

Ann Crittenden. 2004. If You’ve Raised Kids You Can Manage Anything: leadership begins at home. New York: Gotham Books.

Ewen Derrick. 1993. Community Development and Social Change. Auckland: Auckland District Council of Social Services.

Stephen Duncombe, ed. 2002. Cultural Resistance Reader. London: Verso.

David Edwards. 1995. Free to be Human: Intellectual Self-Defense in an Age of Illusion. Devon: Green Books.
___. 1998. The Compassionate Revolution: Radical Politics and Buddhism. Cambridge, UK: Green Books.

Maurice J. Elias, Harriett Arnold, and Cynthia Steiger Hussey, eds. 2003. EQ + IQ = Best Leadership Practices for Caring and Successful Schools. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

G. Elinor, S. Richardson, S. Scott, A. Thomas, K. Walker, eds. 1987. Women and Craft. London: Virago Press.

Fred Emery and Eric L. Trist. 1973 Towards a Social Ecology: Contextual Appreciation of the Future in the PresentLondon: Plenum.

Piero Ferrucci. 2007. The Power of Kindness. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.

John-Paul Flintoff. 2012. How to Change the World. London: Macmillan/The School of Life.

Warwick Fox. 1990. Toward a transpersonal ecology: Developing new foundations for environmentalism. Boston: Shambhala.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Rework: change the way you work forever. 2010. London: Vermilion.

Erich Fromm. 1997. To Have or To Be? New York: Continuum.

Michael E. Gardiner. 2000. Critiques of Everyday Life. London: Routledge.

Daniel Goleman. 2007. The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership into the Science of Results. London: Sphere.

Daniel Goleman, ed. 2003. Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them? A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama. New York: Bantam Books.

David Graeber. 2007. Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire. Oakland, CA/Edinburgh: AK Press.

Keith Grint. 2000. The Arts of Leadership. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tim Hannagan. 2005. Management: Concepts and Practices. Harlow: Prentice Hall/Financial Times.

John Hayes. The Theory and Practice of Change Management. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. (Most recent edition)

Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. 2002. Leadership on the Line: staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Ben Highmore, ed. 2002. The Everyday Life Reader. London: Routledge.

Rob Hopkins. The Power of Just Doing Stuff: how local action can change the world. London: Green Books.

N. Horney, B. Pasmore, and T. O’Shea. 2010. “Leadership agility: A business imperative for a VUCA world.” People & Strategy 33(4):32-38.

Lewis Hyde. 1983. The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. New York: Vintage Books.

Derrick Jensen. 2000. A Language Older than Words. New York: Context Books.
—. 2004. Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Steven Johnson. 2010. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. London: Allen Lane.

Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. 2009. Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Herbert C. Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton. Crimes of Obedience: toward a social psychology of authority and responsibility. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Hwee S. Khoo and Giles St. J. Burch. 2008. “The ‘dark side’ of leadership personality and transformational leadership: An exploratory study.” Personality and Individual Differences 44:86–97.

Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad. 1993. The Guru Papers: masks of authoritarian power. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Louis Kriesberg. 1998. Constructive Conflicts: From Escalation to Resolution. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Donna Ladkin and Chellie Spiller, eds. 2013. Authentic Leadership: Clashes, Convergences and Coalescences. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Charles Leadbeater. Innovation in Education: lessons from pioneers around the world. Doha: Qatar Foundation.

Jonah Lehrer. 2009. The Decisive Moment: how the brain makes up its mind. Edinburgh: Canongate.

Michael Lerner. 1991. Surplus Powerlessness: The Psychodynamics of Everyday Life and the Psychology of Individual and Social Transformation. London: Humanities Press.

Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman, eds. 1999. The Social Shaping of Technology. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Herbert Marcuse. 1965. “Repressive Tolerance.” In A Critique of Pure Tolerance. Robert Paul Wolff, Barrington Moore, Jr., and Herbert Marcuse. pp.81-117. Boston: Beacon Press.

G. Matthews, M. Zeidner, and R. D. Roberts. 2004. Emotional Intelligence: Science and Myth. Boston: MIT Press.

J. McNiff. 2001. Action Research: Principles and Practice. London: Routledge.

R. Metzner. 1999. Green psychology: Transforming our relationship to the earth. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.

J. Mezirow. 1994. “Understanding transformation theory.” Adult Education Quarterly 44(4):222-232. URL:

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.1997. The Witch Doctors: what the management gurus are saying, why it matters and how to make sense of it. London: Mandarin.

Carla Needleman. 1993. The Work of Craft: An Inquiry into the Nature of Crafts and Craftmanship. Tokyo: Kodansha International.

Ray Oldenburg. 1999. The Great Good Place. New York: Marlowe & Co.

M.B. O’Neill. 2007. Executive Coaching With Backbone and Heart: a systems approach to engaging leaders with their challenges. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

E. V. O’Sullivan. 1999 Transformative learning. London. Zed Books.

E. V. O’Sullivan and M. Taylor. 2004 Learning towards an ecological consciousness. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

E. V. O’ Sullivan, A. Morrell, and M. A. O’Connor, eds. 2002. Expanding the Boundaries of Transformative Learning: Essays on Theory and Praxis. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Parker Palmer. 1999. Let Your Life Speak. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons.

Nick Petrie. 2011. Future Trends in Leadership Development. Greensboro, NC: Center for Creative Leadership. URL:

Cormac Power. 2006. Presence in play: a critique of theories of presence in the theatre. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow. URL:

Herbert Reid and Betsy Taylor. 2010. Recovering the Commons: democracy, place, and global justice. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Mary Caroline Richards. 1989. Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Carl R. Rogers. 1961. On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Marshall B. Rosenberg. 2003. Nonviolent Communication: a language of life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

Jonathan Rowe. 2013. Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

W. Sattmann-Frese and S.B. Hill. 2008. “Learning for Sustainable Living: Psychology of Ecological Transformation.” Lulu:

C. Otto Scharmer. 2007. Theory U: Leading from the Emerging Future As It Emerges. Cambridge, MA: SoL Press.

M. M. Schlitz, C. Vieten, and T. Amorok. 2008. Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life. Petaluma, CA: Noetic Book/New Harbinger Publications.

Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. 2005. Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Richard Sennett. 2008. The Craftsman. London: Allen Lane (Penguin).

M. Q. Sibley. 1963. The Quiet Battle: Writings on the Theory and Practice of Non-Violent Resistance. New York: Anchor Books.

Doug Silsbee. 2008. Presence-Based Coaching: Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body, and Heart. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Simon Sinek. 2009. Start With Why: how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. New York: Portfolio.

Patrick Shade. 2001. Habits of Hope: A Pragmatic Theory. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.

E. W. Taylor. 1998. The theory and practice of transformative learning: A critical review. ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Center on Education and Training for Employment, College of Education, the Ohio State University.
—. 2007. “An Update of Transformative Learning Theory: A Critical Review of the Empirical Research (1999-2005)”. International Journal of Lifelong Education 26(2):173-191.

William R. Torbert & Associates. 2004. Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming leadership. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia McCauley, and Marian N. Ruderman, eds. 2010. The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development. New York: Jossey-Bass.

Margaret J. Wheatley. 2009. Turning To One Another: simple conversations to restore hope to the future. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

David Whisnant. 1983. All that is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Diane L. Wolf, ed. 1996. Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork. Boulder, CO: Westview.

S. B. Woolpert, C. D. Slaton, and E. W. Schwerin, eds. 1998. Transformational Politics: Theory, Study, and Practice. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

David Wright, Catherine Camden-Pratt, and Stuart Hill. 2011. Social ecology: Applying ecological understanding to our lives and our planet. Gloucestershire, UK: Hawthorn Press, Hawthorn House.

M. Zournazi. 2002. Hope: New Philosophies for Change. New York: Routledge.