Objectivity or Ponies?

I’ve had a very interesting 2 weeks in Ireland, just returning on Saturday. While there, Ireland announced its need for a financial bailout plan. Everyone was talking about it no matter where we were.  In all forms of news, “Bailout” was the headline.

Photographer: Tina Phillips

During my first day back, a client made a very interesting comment that made me think about organizations, coaching and Ireland.  He said that in his role, he did not have a pony in the race so he could advise his leadership team objectively and ask useful questions to make them think.  What a novel idea!  Having objective input.  Being asked powerful questions to make us think! When do ever we get that?

Almost everywhere, people have something to lose or something to gain when decisions are made – they have ponies in the race.  This means they aren’t objective in their advice and often in their questions. In Ireland, there wasn’t anyone without a pony.  In organizations, it’s the same way. Most people aren’t objective.

I hope that coaching is different. I hope that coaching is a vehicle through which people can ask for and receive objective input and be asked powerful questions that challenge thinking, behaviors, attitudes.  What could happen if we all had partners like that in our lives?

2 thoughts on “Objectivity or Ponies?

  1. I think you are 100% correct Ken and as an Irish citizen I have found the last two weeks to be very intense because we have so much invested in this bailout. I gave a business coach and when he comes to me he helps me to rise above all the negativity in my own business and focus on what will work. Pity I didn’t know you were here. I would have looked you up.

  2. Linda – Very interesting observation. One other thought is that objectivity is not an absolute measure. I look at executive teams and think there is a range from no objectivity (unhealthy) to leave the ponies outside the board room and make the best decision for the organization (rare – but possible).

    Have you experienced the continuum I described? If so – how many people putting the ponies away is enough to help the team be successful?

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