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Message from Kellie Garrett, PCC, ICF SK Board Chair

Spring has sprung – well, it has on the calendar anyway. My gardener’s soul is itching to get out there …

On March 22, our Chapter hosted Dr. Marcia Reynolds, MCC, who is also a global ICF Board Director. Marcia is the author of The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs. Her topic at our Regina event was The Rise of Leadership Coaching. Here’s a synopsis of her presentation:

Young people are looking for a leader who will listen to them, honour them, and partner with them to reach their goals. They’re not interested in anything resembling command and control. (Aging Boomers like me weren’t interested in that either, but apparently we were less vocal.)

Marcia referenced the work of Dr. Stephen Bungay, who has elaborated on The Executive Trinity (originally conceived by John Adair). Modern leadership theories tend to focus on whether people are leaders or managers, when in reality, both skills are required, in addition to ‘directing’. Bungay suggests that the skill sets required of an executive can be grouped into three major buckets:

1.     Directing - dealing with concepts (intellectual); authority, responsibility, and duty of direction

2.     Leading - dealing with people (moral); getting people to achieve objectives

3.     Managing - dealing with things (physical); organizing and controlling resources to achieve objectives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more on this topic, visit http://www.stephenbungay.com/ExecutivesTrinity

Coaching is about focusing on the ‘leadership’ aspect of the trinity, i.e. helping individuals to expand their own capacity as leaders. Coaching helps develop the leadership pipeline. Leaders are good at inspiring others. Author Dan Pink says we spend our days trying to move others. What does it take to really move others?

Marcia argued that new leadership competencies include using a coaching approach to conversations.What’s the difference between a coach approach and coaching?Coaching is about more than asking questions. Coaching is a reflective inquiry process.

She then cited ICF research onthe most important indicators of coaching impact:

  • Improved team functioning - 57%
  • Increased productivity - 51%
  • Faster leadership development - 36%
  • Increased emotional intelligence in employees - 27%

Strong coaching cultures use all three of the following modalities:

  • External coaches for senior leaders/high potentials
  • Managers/leaders using coaching skills/approach and all employees can define and receive
  • Internal well-trained/certified coaches

Documented 5x ROI of the financial investment, sometimes even more

Top five impacts reported by consumers of coaching:

  • Improved communication skills 42%
  • Increased self-esteem/confidence 40%
  • Increased productivity 39%
  • Optimized individual/team perf 38%
  • Life balance 34%

Marcia referenced ICF’s definition of coaching as partnering with clients in a thought- provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. She went on to stress that we are not to give them solutions. We can, however, give them information.

Marcia supported psychologist Alfred Adler’s view that coaches honour the client as the expert in their own life and work, and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. In other words, the client isn’t broken. In the workplace context, what if all leaders thought their employees were creative, resourceful and whole? What shift in their leadership would occur? How would employees respond?

The expert presents information, clarifies context, shares experience – all of which pacifies the brain.On the other hand, the coach guides reflection, asks questions, clarifies beliefs – which activates the brain.

When a competent person is stuck, they need a transformational conversation (shift in thinking). They don’t need to weigh known options, pros and cons, etc.

Coaching = transformation

We have cognitive, social and primitive brains. Each brain has different memory centres. Which memory centre do you want to reach? We put great stock in the cognitive, yet it is not the best place to focus if transformation is the desired outcome

How Humans Learn New Behaviours

Cortical/thinking brain:Fact-based learning, analysis, synthesis, making meaning.

If an emotion is attached to something, it sticks in our memory. The most inefficient way to get people to change their behaviour is by telling them what to do. Emotions tell the brain, “Look at me! Remember this!” Convincing isn’t the same as influencing.

Reptilian/primitive brain: threat and reward. Do this or else! What we learn from fear is nearly impossible to change.

Mammalian/social brain (our middle brain): long-term memory, emotions, creativity.

Ego is our sense of self, who we are and how we see the world. We protect it dearly. When we get defensive, we are feeling a threat to our sense of self. Ego is the world according to me.

In coaching, when we hold up the mirror, the client may reflect in a different way. Question their assumptions and beliefs.

Hold mirror up, ask questions. When client says, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that before,” ask “What are you thinking?” Get client to articulate it so it sticks in his or her memory. This is more powerful than telling the client what to do, based on your past experiences.

The ‘aha’ moment is insight-based learning. As coaches, this is what we’re aiming for.

Anais Nin: we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

What triggers behavioural learning? A surprising fact, a disruptive reflection or a powerful question.Transformation occurs when the light of awareness breaks through; you see a new truth or gain a new insight about yourself and the world around you.“What I thought I knew I now know differently.” A new truth, new meaning comes from a break in knowing (breakthrough) so learning can occur.

The brain is a meaning-making machine: if something doesn’t compute, the brain will go offline and try to make sense of it. It’s important to be quiet and hold a safe space while the client goes through this. Don’t save them. Don’t fill in the silence.Don’t fix, sympathize or backtrack. Do NOT try to fix your client. It stops their growth.

Ask leaders: Can you give up being the expert in order to be the coach?

Coaching is about asking about assumptions, beliefs, values, desires, needs, fears and attachments that create the barrier for seeing other possibilities. Unlock the door that protects meaning.

Marcia spends a lot of time on the coaching agreement: what is the desired outcome?

Engage in direct communication, e.g. “It sounds like you’re struggling with not being the expert” (i.e. paraphrasing).

If there’s a shift in emotion, always call it out.

To create environment for transformation, you need to create safety. Create a safety bubble:

  • Full body presence (head, heart and gut)
  • Emotional intention
  • Highest regard

Curiosity is an emotion. Clients need you to be curious and care about them.

Positive regard: Believe in employee’s potential, what they’re capable of, etc.

Typical topics in leadership coaching:

  • Creative problem solving
  • Improving decision making
  • Dealing with difficult people and change

Marcia ended her talk by saying that coaching is good for mind expansion. It was great was to have our minds expanded at her session!


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