By Lorenza Clifford
Further update on our response to the Climate Crises

Further update on our response to the Climate Crises

During this year of pandemic it seems that coaches have become open to the messages that we have some potency in facing a bigger existential challenge: the current climate and biodiversity crisis.

The interconnectedness of all species and earth systems means this situation requires tackling through collective action and collaboration at local and global levels.  

In a historical collective response to this crisis, coaching professionals have come together and issued a Joint Global Statement: “Coaching, mentoring, coaching psychology and supervision are concerned with developing the potential of human beings, of raising awareness to enable people to take responsibility for their actions and ownership for their contribution. We have a significant role to play in fostering new ways of being in service to a healthy human society and a healthy planet.”

Coaching (and Coaching Supervision) is a broad field, with room for people from differing traditions, philosophies of practice and approaches. We know there’s a broad spectrum of starting places. For some it’s easy to identify how it fits into their practice. And some have never considered this area as relevant and have never considered if and how Climate Conversations might fit into their practice. Wherever people are is where we meet them.

The group of 9 Signatory organisations offered 6 webinars, free to all coaching professionals from any professional body and none; where 2 main questions could be explored:

Climate Crises: How can coaching help?  And how can professional bodies best support us?

6 bodies co-hosted and AOCS was represented by me, Lorenza Clifford, from the Discovery Team.

I offered to chart the responses in a way that could be fed back to all in a piece of transformative action research which can be kept alive and interactive. On the second and subsequent webinars, we fed back an overview half-way through, to show how we are continuing to capture the information and to encourage further sharing.

Below would be an overview of the Miro board used to give you a flavour of the scale of the amount of different comments, questions and responses, clustered into themes. The colours to help us navigate and draw out some useful thoughts and conclusions. However, it is too large a file to upload here, however I compress it!

The proportions of this research kept growing, as people saw the benefit of capturing and sharing real life responses, questions and concerns and how it added richness to the conversations as we went. The Joint Global Statement Group (JGSG) met again yesterday and agreed that a digital report will be written which will include the information, probably with some narrative from the JGSG in a format that can be accessed by all.

Some early themes emerging for working with coaches in supervision:

  1. How do coaching professionals currently communicate their approach and philosophy about Climate Change as they set the scene for the coaching? What might they like to do differently in each of these areas of scene setting?
  • in social media, networking and websites
  • in opening conversations, pitching and corporate contracting
  • In chemistry sessions and individual attraction and contracting conversations


  1. What tone and language does the coaching professional want to use, to fit into their approach and style? At what moments might different tones and styles become useful?


  1. Coaches tell us they need to feel equipped, and some don’t currently (which leads to avoiding responding to the climate and ecological crises through their coaching, a “blind spot”). They need knowledge, quality reference material, tools and approaches, skills and language, as well as the emotional awareness of self and others to enter this space.


  1. Supervision with a well-equipped supervisor can be an ideal place to work through legitimate concerns; to give a flavour of those that were raised:

- What is my role in the coaching conversation, and how can introducing this conversation fit into my contracted role

-  How to introduce Climate Crises successfully in coaching conversations while holding a non-directive stance, especially if it is not on the client’s agenda or if the coaching is delineated very specifically. 

- Leaving the client feeling positive and inspired after a session, and will I switch my client off with these conversations or leave them feeling disempowered

- Another area of ‘unreadiness’ is knowing I haven’t worked through this for myself yet, and feeling that as a rich-world consumer I am not the right person to raise this.

- What if I am aware that I don’t have a policy on climate change and have not acted to reduce my own climate footprint?

- What if people around me are still in firm denial about climate change, and I fear for my reputation? How will I be seen if I introduce this?

- What if I am angry or upset that my professional body has signed this and added to my workload? Am I expected to just ‘suck it up’?

- What if I become angry with my client for having a disregard for the subject when I care so deeply about it? Outrage and frustration is common.

- Feeling differently about the issue on different days of the week and in contact with different clients. How can I maintain a sense of who I am as a coaching professional, and my identity in relation to this topic?


  1. Some of the ways coaches are already incorporating responses to climate crises into their conversations successfully are:
  • Curiosity and interest in the client worldview, paying attention to the deeper meanings
  • Understanding the emotional side of clients’ work and that of their team
  • Context of the moment in history, context of arising problem and well-formed outcomes
  • Wider system and stakeholder analysis for greater systemic understanding
  • Informing and reference sharing and inviting views on that reading and its relevance
  • Reality checking and accounting for future outcomes of current decisions
  • Legacy of leadership and understanding leader the client wants to be.

There is so much more it would be possible to include here, so this is a taster of what is to come. There was clear sense that supervisors, training organisations and professional bodies each have a part to play in creating a ripple effect of positive change. Our ongoing discussions, based on what individuals wanted us to do, have already started. The JGSG (9 signatories) and AOCS Discovery team will each be taking these forward alongside the reports and further activities we want to share.

Please join the conversation: let us know what you need to feel equipped to work with coaches, and what your experience tells you, that will help other supervisors: [email protected]

Thank you.

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