Dr. Susan Coleman is an impressive figure even before you get to how she risked her life. In addition to holding multiple degrees and certifications in team and systems coaching, she is also a world-renowned mediator and hosts a peacebuilding podcast. With such an impressive portfolio behind her, you would expect her to do something big – but would you expect her to put her life on the line for team coaching?

The answer is yes – quite literally so.

Set in a country where women are socially restricted, a coaching event designed to empower women sets the scene of our interview with Dr. Coleman. Wielding years of experience, Dr. Coleman travelled to Afghanistan to facilitate learning for senior women civil servants, who hope to become leaders in their community.

In any other setting, this may seem like a normal event. However, in Afghanistan, women who have attempted to teach or take power have been kidnapped, beheaded, or otherwise threatened. The women that Susan worked with had body guards, death threats and even assassination attempts – but it didn’t stop anyone, including Dr. Coleman.

She threw herself into this assignment with her mind fixed on empowering women, not her own safety. Each day that those women went to work, they faced challenges and threats from male colleagues and men around the country, and Susan wanted to show them that they could take power into their own hands. Being a major advocate for equality, that meant there was no room for worry, and seeking out an even playing field meant that they were focused on eliminating danger, not being held in fear.  

There was more grit and backbone to her group than she thought, though – they regularly go to places they aren’t welcome, work with people that don’t believe in them, and somehow, they change minds. It seemed that they weren’t the only ones learning – the power of resilience was something Dr. Coleman took away from the experience, too.

On the Team Coaching Zone podcast, we had the special opportunity to speak with Dr. Coleman about her time working in Afghanistan with two different cohorts of women, and we were lucky enough to be able to speak with her even before her own podcast touched on the topic of working in Afghanistan.

No matter who you are, you can learn from this podcast. The sense of danger will keep you on the edge of your seat, while the facts will instil you with a sense of empowerment. Take a moment out of your day to hear Susan’s story – chances are, you’ll learn something new.


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