Joan Bragar, EdD

Coaching for Happiness in Love

It was always about relationships – in leadership and in life

by | Aug 5, 2018 | Leadership Development, Love | 1 comment

It was always about relationships…

I have been pondering how to explain my new emphasis on Relational Coaching and its link to to my Leadership work.

I think I’ve found a way…

I was talking with Robert Waldinger, my friend, gym buddy, and director of the 76-year old Harvard study of men – the study that found that when men get into their later years, they begin to see the enormous contribution that relationships have made to their health and to the quality of their lives.

[You can see the results of this study in a TedTalk What Makes a Good Life?, that Bob masterfully delivers.]

At the gym the other day, reflecting on this,  I said to Bob, But women have always known that relationships were important!”  He agreed, and said that the study was finding something that we already knew.

Women, who until the past century did not have significant access to formal power or authority, and who had full responsibility for developing other human beings, have always focused on the importance of relationships.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s with the work of Jean Baker Miller, Carol Gilligan and other research psychologists, that women were included in research studies of human behavior. What emerged, when women were studied, were the relational practices – including caring, connecting and responding.

The inclusion of women in psychological research literally balanced out our understanding of human behavior.

My own research at Harvard* found that the most effective leaders are those who use interdependent (relational) leadership practices AND autonomous(positional) leadership practices. My study found that: Women and men who lead successfully use both relational and positional leadership practices.

I have used these findings to design leadership development programs that have been delivered in the private and public sectors around the world.  You can read about these programs and their practices in my book, Leading for Results .

I am now working with the best person I know in the field of personal relationships, Katherine Woodward Thomas, the family therapist and author of two New York Times bestsellers on this subject.

Katherine is the creator of a transformational coaching process that is a guide to unwinding the unconscious and persistent patterns that keep you from happy healthy loving relationships.

I have worked with her for several years to become certified in Calling in the OneTM and Conscious UncouplingTM Coaching. (And to bring in my own happy healthy loving marriage to Marc!)

You can see result stories from this coaching in my blog.
(My website is undergoing an improvement process so suggestions are welcome!)

It was always about relationships! 

All of the leadership coaching, teaching, and program design that I have done over the years has always been about the importance of relationships to effective leadership.

When I teach my leadership courses at Boston University School of Public Health,     I ask students to not use laptops or phones in the classroom so that they can get to know each other, and talk with each other about what is really important to them.

They learn that building and strengthening relationships is essential to effective leadership.

The relationships that are most important in our lives are the healthy intimate relationships that sustain our health, wellbeing and happiness.
I am now coaching people to bring these happy healthy love into their lives, at any age, no matter what has happened in the past.

I am also working with people if they are in relationships that are coming to an end, for any number of reasons, to “uncouple” in healthy, conscious and respectful ways – so that they can learn and move their lives forward in a positive direction.

Its all about relationships!

My client, a research scientist, who has done both Leadership Coaching and Relationship Coaching with me says,

“Joan’s coaching itself has helped me to learn how to develop a meaningful relationship. She has put in significant time and effort to get to know me and personalized her coaching to best fit my growth and development needs.”

And for this, I am glad.


*Effective Leadership practices for managers, Balancing interdependence and autonomy“, (Harvard University, Graduate School of Education Dissertation, 1990)