by Richard Boston (UK)

What if three seemingly-simple words could open new doors in your coaching – not just for your clients, but for you as a coach?

ARC has come full circle for me. It started as three words that summed up my own coaching approach. Then I realised those same three words summarised the challenges most leaders were bringing to our coaching sessions, action learning sets and leadership programmes.

Think about it: what coaching challenge isn’t, at its heart, a difficulty relating to one of these three things?

  • Being Authentic – e.g. living up to our values, being our ‘true’ selves at work
  • Being Responsible – taking on too much or too little, handing it to others, competing priorities, etc.
  • Being Courageous – overcoming our doubts and fears to do what needs to be done

And then there are the challenges that involve more than one of these ARC Qualities, or the tensions between them. For example:

  • ‘Do I take bold, entrepreneurial risks or tread the responsible path that protects what we already have?’ – Courage vs Responsibility
  • ‘Do I tell the boss what I really think or keep quiet so I don’t risk the job I rely on to feed my family?’ – Authenticity vs Responsibility

The more ‘VUCA’* the world gets, the more relevant these three ARC Qualities have become. In 2020, when the world was first reeling from the spread of Covid-19, I ran a session on ARC for members of the European Coaching and Mentoring Council. They cited a whole range of reasons why Authenticity, Responsibility and Courage are particularly relevant in such challenging times.

One key reason, they said, was because of the role these three ARC Qualities play in building and maintaining trust and psychological safety – particularly important in a world where so many people are working from home, juggling competing professional and personal Responsibilities, and feeling anxious and vulnerable.

We need Courage to weather uncertainty, the coaches said, and to adapt to new ways of working and come up with new business models. And it’s when we are at our most Authentic, Responsible and Courageous that we and our clients stand up for what we feel is morally right in the face of opposition or callousness at work. It’s that same blend of Authenticity, Responsibility and Courage that prompts clients and coaches alike to ask themselves tough questions about the ways they have been living their lives, and make some big choices about the way they want to live in the future.

Source: iCN Issue 32  (Coaching Tools, Techniques & Models for Coaching); pages