The new film The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush, is a lovely and touching true story of how Britain's King George VI, struggling with a life-long debilitating stammer, ascended to the throne on the eve of England's entrance into the second world war.
Not only is this a worthy movie for any who enjoy a high quality film, but this is one with particular relevance to those in the field of coaching. In fact, you could easily rename this film The King's Coach as it centers on the efforts of one Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia, who is enlisted to work with "Bertie" (as the King was known by his family).
Late in the film, when Bertie is informed by his handlers that Logue is not a doctor and has no credentials, the King is enraged and accuses Logue of being a fraud. Then, in one of the film's most moving sections, Logue explains himself. He never called himself "Dr." Logue. He never claimed to have certifications or credentials. He came to this work, he said, via his experiences helping shell-shocked soldiers to regain their confidence and their ability to speak during World War I.
An HR blogger made the point that even Kings need to do a thorough background check before they hire a so-called expert. Good point. But there is another HR-type lesson here, I believe, about the nature of expertise.
What is expertise? What is an expert? Does a PhD guarantee it? Does a certification ensure it?
The dictionary tells us that an expert is someone who has achieved a level of skill or knowledge in a particular field making them an authority or specialist who is sought out by others for advice and consultation.
Lionel Logue's expertise in speech therapy originated in his love of spoken language. He further developed his expertise through study as well as the creative applications he undertook to assist soldiers. His expertise, rooted in a love of speech, came from doing the work itself, and demonstrating its benefit to others.
Posted by Terrence Seamon on Thursday December 30, 2010. For more ideas on coaching, contact Terry and invite him to your organization.