Issue 41

UTD Coaching News

The Power of Polarity Coaching   

   by Ann V. Deaton, Ph.D., PCC,

                                     DaVinci Resources

Do you have clients who feel caught in the middle of competing demands? Do they land on solutions that seem exactly right but then lose effectiveness after just a few weeks or months? It could be because your client is trying to solve a problem instead of managing a polarity. Polarities are common personal, interpersonal, and organizational tensions that are ever present in our lives and work.  They are competing values such as Work and Play, Team and Individual, Caring for Self and Caring for Other. Trying to fix polarities by choosing one value over the other wastes time, money, and energy.  

I just returned from a polarities practitioners session in Charleston, South Carolina, which is absolutely gorgeous at this time of year. The two day session was a gift---32 people in community sharing their knowledge and learning about polarities, and helping one another grow and evolve their ideas. I learned a huge amount, and there is much more to learn.

Fortunately, there are some excellent resources for coaches who want to learn more and to be able to better coach their clients to effectively manage polarities. One resource is the classic text by Barry Johnson: Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems. Though it’s been around for nearly two decades, Johnson’s book remains a fascinating and illuminating read. And now it is joined by a book by Kathy Anderson on coaching through a polarities lens. Polarity Coaching: Coaching People & Managing Polarities offers seven vignettes of applying polarities with coaching clients. It’s a wonderful, practical book that coaches in all niches will appreciate.

And if books are not enough, you can learn more about polarities through several upcoming courses, including Foundations in Polarities Management, Coaching to Polarities, and the new Polarities Mapping assessment tool. Learn more at

Once you begin to think in terms of polarities you will discover how pervasive competing values are in our lives, why they produce conflict when poorly managed, and how they stem from our most cherished values and our deepest fears.  Learn how to see problems in a new light and effectively coach your clients to manage their polarities for sustainable results.


Ann V. Deaton, Ph.D., PCC is a Managing Partner of The Bounce Collective Leadership Development and Leadership Coach with DaVinci Resources. The focus of her work is leadership coaching, training, facilitation, and teambuilding with nonprofit, government, and corporate organizations. Ann received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is a graduate of the Newfield Network's professional coaching program. She worked in health care settings for many years before transitioning into her coaching career. In addition to being on the faculty of The University of Texas at Dallas Executive Coaching program, Ann teaches Leadership and Ethics courses for Virginia Commonwealth University in its Community Engagement and School of Business divisions. 




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