Organizational Coaching Gems, Straight from Wall Street

by John B. Lazar

I seldom give myself permission (nor have the time) to sit back and reflect on the issues we have published over the last eight years. Normally, I’m consumed with getting the next four or five issues moving ahead, completed well, and out to our readers. This piece of reflection is an exception, one made especially for our IAC readers.

I was going through one of my recent favorites, themed “Organizational Coaching in Financial Institutions.” One of the articles, by Art Gingold, was on coaching executives on Wall Street in the midst of the economic meltdown of 2008. In it, he points out that the leaders of these firms were dealing with intense scrutiny from inside and outside observers. They had specific challenges they needed to courageously face if their firms were to survive. Here are some of them:

  • Be aware of the brightness of the spotlight on them and appreciate the influence of their megaphone, especially in a crisis;
  • Accept the conundrum of making decisions in chaotic, uncharted circumstances;
  • Recognize and choose the power and influence that comes from being vulnerable;
  • Make the choice to extend and connect, even though the tendency might be to withdraw; and
  • Articulate the path forward and inspire a vision of the (better) future.

Similarly, a coach of such leaders had comparable challenges, including these:

  • Be a sanctuary (a safe place) and a lighthouse (a place for reflection);
  • Maintain independence and neutrality;
  • Earn a place at the table; and
  • Be aware of (and challenge) absolutes and hyperbole.

To me, it seems that the above insights, though tightly contextualized in Art’s narrative, are applicable to virtually any circumstance. I hope you'll find them useful on your coaching journey.


John B. Lazar is the Executive Editor of IJCO The International Journal of Coaching in Organizations™, published by Professional Coaching Publications, Inc. (PCPI). PCPI was established in 2003 as an enterprise dedicated to the promotion of professional coaching. Find something of value for your development and performance at



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