VUCA Uncertainty and Coping with our anxiety-management system

Great video from Dare on Change (Ad for Clothing Brand Saga - "Dare" (Take it Easy Films) and facing our demons, our inner shadows, competing commitments that stop us from doing what we want to achieve in the first place. Most of the times, the reason why we are not achieving our improvement goal, whatever that may be, is that doing what it would take to achieve this goal, would be too uncomfortable. From experience, engaging this uncomfortable, hidden unconscious place through reflection is where coaching can be highly effective. Reflection is an ongoing practice that takes time to cultivate. We always recommend our clients to really take their time for this process in this ever 'doing' working life. *A mental process “by which an individual rationally examines their assumptions” with the outcome of clarity, reflection can occur simultaneously with action, or in arrears after an action has taken place. In the field of coaching, awareness and self-awareness have been shown to be both an outcome of and a process for enhancing outcomes in coaching. Identifying the worries/fears (beliefs & needs) that may be preventing you from achieving your goal helps to see your change-prevention system (how your competing commitments systematically generate the very behaviours that prevent progress on your goal) and your anxiety-management system (how generating these behaviours helps you ward off some of your worst fears). During these unprecedented times of uncertainty and ambiguity, dancing between the new and the old, between a hard rock and a place, managing complexity as well as ambiguity facing your demons as we all strive in simplicity and clarity, will have the single biggest impact on the way we work over the next years. This requires an adaptable brain that can respond with flexibility and creativity, while still being thoughtful and applying logic. Coaching helps people identify limiting beliefs and move into more open and responsive mindsets. Think of several commitments that are currently competing in your own (or client) organisation. How are people in your organisation currently dealing with the situation? What are the consequences, positive and negative, of this way of coping? Please leave a comment below or contact us for more information on working with your inner-self or your team in order to achieve a deep level of psychological reflection and understanding. *Hullinger, A. M., DiGirolamo, J. A., & Tkach, J. T. (2019). Reflective Practice for Coaches and Clients: An Integrated Model for Learning. Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal, 4(2), 5-34.

How to Unlearn – the Art of non-attachment - What Got You Here Won’t Cut It Moving Forward

Lately, I stumbled upon an interesting article from one of my mentors on the practice of non-attachment and the roles we take-up in life “Non Attachment requires you not only to let go of your roles and your stories, but to also let go of the part of yourself that identifies with these dramas”. I remember an exercise we had to perform where the instructions required us to make a mandala in nature representing all the labels, stories, roles – our life cosmos - we’ve stuck to in this lifetime and burn each symbol in order to release the hook-up narratives. This implied all the identity roles our ego is attached, such as father, student, executive coach, brother, teacher, and the like…I had to let go of my preconceived notions about who I was, and found it difficult due to the numerous pigeon-hole descriptions of one’s life. Letting go is not an easy process and I experience this with our Transition Leadership coaching programmes, where executives need to embed new micro-leadership competencies (i.e. delegation, feedback, strategic skills) moving from an individual expert’s to higher levels in the organisation. As in Barry O'Reilly’s book (Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results) · Unlearn the behaviours and mindsets that keep you and your organisational roles from moving forward. · Relearn new leadership skills, strategies, and innovations that are transforming your ecosystem · Break through old habits and thinking by opening up to new ideas and perspectives while achieving extraordinary results. Experts usually try to exercise control by perfecting their technical knowledge and exercising watertight thinking, clinging onto things— knowledge status, technical power, PhD titles —simply does not make sense considering their evolving nature. These things add to your life, but they are not your life. You’re all that’s guaranteed, and even you grow and change, physically, emotionally and spiritually. What if, what we perceive as reality is not actually reality at all? What if, it is simply what our mind's eye has led us to believe? There is a story of two Zen monks, an elder and a junior, both committed to celibacy, who were travelling across country and reached a rushing river. On the riverbank was an attractive woman who was nervous of the water and asked for help in crossing. Without hesitating the older monk picked her up, carried her across, lowered her gracefully on the other side and then carried on with the journey. A few hours later the brooding young monk could not contain himself anymore. He was upset by his elder’s actions and, under the guise of politeness, enquired: ‘Do you think it was appropriate, considering our oath of celibacy, to carry that woman across the river?’ ‘I put her down,’ the elder replied, ‘as soon as I reached the other side. But you, my young friend, are still carrying her.’ This is common, isn’t it? We all carry things in our minds that we have trouble unloading. We carry stories for too long. Our monkey minds can’t let them go. Tao of Leadership - The Paradox of Letting Go: When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. Article reference :

How can we learn to learn more quickly?

“Nothing that was will be Again the way it once was Everything passes, everything will always pass Life comes in waves Like a sea In infinite coming and going (...)” Lulu Santos song It seems obvious, but the obvious always needs to be remembered: the only permanent thing is change. Currently, the changes in the external environment (VUCA) are even faster, given the countless technological possibilities. But are people prepared to learn at the same speed as change? And how are organizations preparing their leaders to learn quickly and make decisions at different levels of complexity? In fact, past results do not guarantee future results. In the knowledge society, the improvement in organizational performance is due to the performance of its professionals. In this sense, experience and performance combined with the delivery of results are fundamental elements for good professional performance. On the other hand, as technology evolves, innovations emerge, realities are reconfigured and then we are all pushed into an incessant learning movement. To succeed in this volatile, complex and ambiguous context, we need to master the art of learning and adapting. Faced with scenarios of uncertainties and ambiguities, how can we learn to learn more quickly? While technological solutions are not yet sufficiently validated and disseminated, we suggest some competencies that can be easily developed: Integrating capacity - as leaders, we must have the "integrating capacity" to gather and make sense of seemingly disconnected information and ideas, creating innovative solutions from them. Openness to the new - leaders also need to be comfortable and able to embrace seemingly absurd ideas and be open to diversity. Active listening - good leaders are more listeners than speakers. But here we go further. Listening actively requires an authentic openness to the new and the ability to be attentive to what the environment has to say. Systemic thinking - in a complex environment, critical thinking leaders who carefully examine problems and make new connections between all areas and the macro environment. Setup for changes - As we move up the executive career, we need to be more and more comfortable with uncertainty and sudden change. Ability to learn quickly - Learning requires an open and receptive mindset, this makes it possible to improve the ability to adapt. People with agile learning stand out for absorbing information from their experience and then extrapolating it to unknown situations. Changing rooted habits and behaviours can be quite challenging. It is about exercising flexibility in thinking and behaviour in everyday organizational life, in order to make learning more enjoyable and thus stimulate the learning agility of your employees. The adaptability to learn will consistently reflect on the effectiveness of your applied skills. So, instead of simply following a business routine, it is important to encourage reflection on the different possibilities and ways to improve efficiency and obtain better results. by Rosi Sabino #BusinessInnovation #LearningAgility

On top of Pico Agudo in Parana, Brazil and lessons learned on adaptive leadership

Pico Agudo is the Portuguese name for "acute peak" – a grinding 4hrs hike with 1000m elevation, straight up and no time for a warm-up under 30c+ scorching heat by midday in January. It was an adventure to travel there with our rented car. To access the Pico you need to drive a knotty dirt road for at least an 1hr+ with steep hills, no infrastructure, little roaming and signage and we were lucky with the weather that day. I am not sure if we would have reached the parking entrance of our hike if it rained on wet roads without a four wheel-drive. Welcome to Brazil and the world of adaptability. 😊 I would consider myself well-travelled, having lived and worked on three different continents and seven different countries, not counting years of backpacking, however in this fast-paced world and accustomed to western quality of life, I found it difficult to adjust to the complexities of the pace of Brazilian culture at the beginning. From not being able to draw cash from one of the main bank of Brazil to using my GPS roaming data allowance at the speed of light and having to buy a local SIM card, I began to regret the backpacking days of the ‘Lonely Planet’ with no internet, its paper maps and slow pace of life, albeit always chaotic whilst travelling in developed countries. In today’s VUCA world, “Analyse, plan and implement” has given way to more adaptive leadership that relies on experimentation, sense-making, emergence… making traditional organizational planning less relevant. During this business/personal trip I realised I still had some more inner work to do in letting go of concrete expectations around planning, structure, organisation and control, etc knowing “systems leadership” * is one of my coaching specialities. 😊 Due to time constraints on this journey and my ‘conditioned’ mindset living in Ireland, I witness inner-tensions of impatience, anxiety and frustrations due to uncertainties like driving for 1hr+ on dirt roads with an ill-equipped car in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where we were going nor reaching our destination. Only to be mesmerised by the beautiful scenery once reaching the mountain top, going with the flow, having faith and trusting the patience, guidance and instinct of my Brazilian friend. In Brazil, an erosion of trust and faith in government in recent years has been the backdrop for a swing from the socialist policies of former Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff to the election of current President Jair Bolsonaro. Maintaining trust is a key value and part of the attributes of an individual “systems leader” including among others intrapersonal skills such as a deep inner self-awareness and compassion leading to inner-peace, an interest in the system over one’s self (i.e. ego), and an ability to facilitate constructive dialogue. As with the Hero’s Journey from academic Joseph Campbell, my travelling pilgrimage guided me to the threshold of my inner route map, helping me to better navigate the landscape of my inner core – i.e. managing polarities between the familiar/rational – linear mind and unfamiliar/heart – non-linear mind. When was the last time that you gave yourself permission to travel into a totally unfamiliar world (i.e. not speaking the language in an unfamiliar country and travelling like a local)? The trip highlighted a better understanding of 'self' by enhancing my degree of conscience and compassion within my regional, budget-conscious travelling context – perhaps the best leadership training is to drop an executive by foot with limited roaming data, no Portuguese language in the heart of Sao Paulo, one of the world’s fastest-growing metropolitan with 19 million inhabitants and ask S/Him to cross the town with its famous ‘bairros’ by night time? * “Systems leadership” is about leading in a situation where power is diffused, and where the consequences of decisions are magnified and less predictable as their impact progressively ripples across the organisation. It requires cultivating a shared vision for change, and empowering innovation and collaborative action. According to research, systems leadership is needed to address complex problems which cannot be solved with a top-down, conventional, pre-planned approach that focuses on one area to the exclusion of others. Journal and lessons from my latest business trip to Brazil. "Adaptive leadership is a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organisations to adapt to changing environments and effectively respond to recurring problems. First, the change itself needs to be considered to subsequently take on challenges and respond to the change." #adaptiveleadership #comfortzones #polarities #coachingbusiness #tourism #explore #brazil #adventure #lessons #businesstrip #traveling #vucaworld #changemindset #changeleadership #transformation

You can't make an omelette without eggs

How to accelerate business innovation in externally funded scalable start-ups? “Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything you’ve got working for you. They can hire away some of your best people. They can reverse-engineer your processes. The only thing they can’t duplicate is your culture… Do you know the difference between strategy and culture? Well, when Napoleon was in Paris in a room with all his generals around a table, discussing how to attack Russia, that’s strategy. But what makes a million men march to Moscow that is culture!” Herb Kelleher Southwest Airlines This article draws on my previous experiences as a business innovation coach, coaching some of the top HPSUs (High Potential Start-Up) in Europe and the past 10 years as an executive coach working with CEOs and senior leaders in international corporations and large public sector organisations. I have the privilege of working with some of the most innovative start-ups through the H2020 Phase 2 programme managed by the European Commission and as part of this very competitive programme (<6% success rate) I coach clients from their concept to market maturity. The main coaching outcome is aimed at bringing their innovation to investment readiness and maturity for market take-up. I love these coaching engagements because I can prototype some of my own concepts around systems thinking, psycho-dynamic analysis using OD/team coaching as a conversational leadership tool for change with firms ranging from 20-70 employees; moving from seed funding to round A of venture capital financing; where the main working styles are about innovating, researching, exploring, exploiting opportunities, pushing for change…. I love these coaching engagements because of the buzz, energy, passion, fire element, post-modernist worldview of ‘making a difference’ - working with the oldest and youngest millennials – the generation Y as oppose to the other side of my coaching practice working with the traditional (i.e. fulfilling duties, preserving tradition) large public sector organisations and modern worldviews (i.e. appealing to status) of the Fortune 1000. In every Phase 2 engagements it’s clear that the means to address key strategic challenges, mainly scaling the HPSU, already exist within the organisation. However invariably there are factors which get in the way – such as next round of funding or hiring functional experts but the main one I found is the ‘professionalising of the organisation’ – the upgrade of its operating system led by the Senior Management Team (SMT). Many of these issues are solvable but not by individuals on their own. It’s widely accepted that the biggest barrier to innovation in companies is the suppressive effect of culture and leadership but by taking a more strategic approach to coaching and mentoring, it’s much more likely that they will address these difficult challenges. For example, the majority of the Senior Management Teams I coach see themselves as a – pseudo or potential team on the Katzenbach team performance curve (see Phase 2 client examples from pic). Katzenbach and Smith define a Real Team as “a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable”. A Pseudo Team doesn’t want to take the risk of committing to a common purpose and the mutual accountability that this entails and a Potential Team are working towards a higher level of performance and must agree on mutual accountability. I should have added that the main thrust of Organisational Psycho-dynamic Analysis is action research which surfaces the unseen, the invisible, the sub-conscious in order to accompany senior managers to the place for transformational change to begin. For this reason this approach is deeper than most business coaching or change management engagements. It does this by getting the senior management talking about what is actually happening compared to their aspirations. The crux point is the extent to which the HPSU is ready to enter the “dark night of transformation” (extreme disequilibrium) when they are ready to suspend their current attitudes, judgements, fears, habits practices……. Only 3% of start-ups go on to scale-up (EU Start-up and Scale-up Initiative) and the most impactful way to coach a HPSU is through actively surfacing the conversations about what is happening in the SMT in order to get collective buy in. Their reactions and resistances to this, and to naming or seeing the unspoken, will inform much about their readiness to scale. The other aspect is to coach each leaders on their leadership skills such as influence, resilience and strength to lead others into and through this extreme disequilibrium – first they, themselves have to be fit for the journey. Deep change that generates ongoing adaptiveness is a phenomenon with exterior and interior dimensions and by working from the inside-out as oppose to the common outside-in approach I listen for a lack of alignment between purpose-vision-mission and strategy – the process of leadership (interior culture of SMT). This miss-alignment will usually highlight gaps between structure and processes within the collective and by identifying these gaps early on; it helps me to adjust the learning outcomes of the coaching process. By linking this alignment together and using a proven goal setting and achievement coaching process allows for sustainability leading to Kirkpatrick's 4th level and generating a significant return on investment. Connect with us and get a FREE consultation on this blog post or comment - talk soon:)) #TeamPerformance #StrategicAlignment

BC Team Coaching speaking at TechConnect Live, Dublin on 31st of May

The city of Dublin will host TechConnect Live, Ireland’s largest technology event, on the 31st of May 2017. This gathering of 3000+ key decision makers from the Irish and international tech sector will provide a unique forum for technology companies, start-ups, investors and the largest Irish and global end users of technology and services in order to facilitate investment, innovation, collaboration and fostering of new commercial relationships: Bernard Chanliau, owner of BC Team Coaching will present: How to accelerate business innovation in externally funded scalable start-ups? Insights and Challenges from the field of Business Innovation Coaching Seminar 6: Sales and Marketing Skills and Training and Professional Development at 09:55 am Seminar 3: Start-ups / Scaling a business Time 10.45 - 11.00

Team Coaching Success: Improving Observable and Measurable Impact

Team Coaching is fundamentally an individual and collective process of learning and change, and as such, team coaches should have a clearly articulated “theory of change” that underlies their Team Coaching approach. Throughout the years with my Team Coaching clients, I have witnessed team members struggling at the beginning with systems thinking skills when asked to draw a picture in their mind of their working systems. I know the feeling, as most of us baby boomers/Gen Xers in the Western world have been (conventionally) educated and conditioned into thinking linearly, step-by-step in a continuous piecemeal approach and bringing with it a scientific one-truth avenue. The temptation is to look for facts rather than allowing patterns to emerge. Being a Frenchman, Descartes initiated a bit of this, and I should know a thing or two about the Cartesian dualism mentality because the French educational system is still overwhelmingly based on this mental construct. Nevertheless, this “mental map” has its benefits such as PMO, striving to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects with its deadlines, implementing and executing task-orientated work. However, in order to navigate the complexity of this VUCA world and its “wicked problems,” it is difficult to adapt to the rigidity, certainty and predetermined linear outcomes, as uncertainty is the new norm. My twelve years in the trenches designing and delivering team coaching programs have led me to conclude that the AQAL Integral Framework developed by Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute is, by far, the most precise map currently available for my “articulated” theory of change within a team coaching context. AQAL itself stands for “All Quadrants, all Levels,” which is short for “All Quadrants, all Levels, all Lines, all States and all Types,” which are the five dimensions or elements that Wilber uses to define reality. The AQAL map ensures that you are utilizing the full range of resources for any situation, with the greater likelihood of success because ALL experiences have both interior and exterior components in singular and collective forms. It’s a 5D multidimensional integral way of looking at reality, and as coaching practitioners, we can use this at different levels. For the simplicity of this article, we will map a change journey from a quadrant perspective using team coaching and the collective as a unit in the center of the diagram: Exercise evaluating impacts in team coaching using the AQAL model: Think of a recent team coaching client and imagine yourself walking into the first (UL) Individual-Interior quadrant of your client and circling right (UR) Individual – Exterior and back to bottom (LL) Collective – Interior and finally (LR) Collective Exterior, mapping this as a unit for the collective: As you enter each quadrant see, feel, sense yourself addressing the coaching alliance from each perspective: What are the individual patterns of competing commitments of the collective (UL)? What do you sense as their common individual beliefs/perceptions and as a collective unit? What would improve the collective emotional DNA of the team? What leadership competencies (i.e., managing conflict) have you established in the team coaching agreement (UR)? What are the key strategic activities that the team needs to allocate to individual team members? What is the purpose and desired values/operating principles of this team (LL)? What is the informal power structure and politics within the team? What rhythm does the team have? What are the interdependent measurable KPIs objectives as a collective (LR)? What are the key strategic goals that the team needs to own as a whole? What is your preferred team coaching quadrant? Do you always start with the (UL) – Individual Interior world of the team leader? Do you spend most of your time on the (UR) focusing on the “what” of team performance? Or, do you prefer to coach on the “how” of team process (LL)? Or, work on the team structure and design (LR)? As learning capability is critical to teaming and a big part of the role of team coaching is to accelerate learning, I find this change journey mapping a useful exercise in setting anchor points, co-creating the relationship and establishing the coaching agreement with my team clients. You cannot understand the experience of your client and fully facilitate learning and results through the lens of any other quadrant, and each unhealthy quadrant will have an impact on the other three as per the example below: In conclusion, one of the key set of capabilities of a team coach is to diagnose the collective team culture and dynamics and systemic patterns while feeding back in ways that create new insights and mindset shift in the team. The AQAL map is just one tool that helps you enhance your systemic capabilities and can be used to diagnose, contract (setting the foundation) and facilitate learning and results with your client team. #SystemThinking #TeamCoaching #AQALModel

Free Assessment Report on Your Organizational Capacity to Meet Your Ambitious Scaling Milestones

Today our times will be marked by how we navigate unprecedented complexity. This new VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) amplified context, with its pace of change and spaghetti bowl of problems to solve, requires new leadership capacity to prevent stagnation and leading effectively. Navigating through the continuum of the unknown/uncertainty as oppose to the known/certainty old paradigm becomes a must-have to scale the business model and its associated unit economics. Check out our latest assessment with a FREE report on: How to rapidly increase your organizational capacity to meet your ambitious scaling milestones. You will receive a pdf report and optional 30 minutes FREE no-obligation consultation call. Looking forward to our eCoffee! From your gap score, you can have what you want and overcome these obstacles if you upshift your organization’s capacity in four dimensions simultaneously. #AQALModel #Change #StrategicAlignment

Improve Group Problem Solving and Enhance Business Innovation

Lego Serious Play We are introducing a team facilitation tool that you will find hopefully fresh and interesting. If you are looking for a progressive; innovative; fun; right brain; creative; transformational; result-oriented facilitation day blended with coaching for your next leadership retreat then Contact Us about Lego Serious Play. Lego Serious Play is a powerful tool designed to enhance innovation and business performance. Innovation is a tool that every organization needs to improve on over the years in order to improve their business performance. Challenges in the work environment are becoming more prominent with the need for growth enhancement due to the fast pace of technology. This calls for unusual approaches to meet these issues in order to enable employees to think outside of the box and enhance innovation. Lego Serious Play does exactly this; allowing employees to communicate on a more open-minded level thus increasing better team dynamics. Breaking down professional barriers and allowing employees to respond in a more informal and natural approach encourages creativity to grow within a group. Lego is often a childhood nostalgia for many people and will stimulate memories of creativity from the past. This will, in turn, inspire employees to think outside the box just like they did as a child. Therefore, enables problem-solving to be more fun as well as motivating for an individual to produce authentic ideas. This kind of thinking is what creates a competitive advantage in an organization; the chance for employees to let loose and contribute more to solutions. Lego Play not only enhances creative solutions for daily challenges that are faced in the work environment but also creates a feeling of a whole team. This dynamic allows for strengthening employee relations and therefore increasing business performance. We can organise Lego Serious Play facilitation days for teams and groups starting from half-day sessions. Unleash your creativity and get in touch with us today to discover what's possible! #Innovation #TeamCoaching

Working from the Inside Out and Why it’s Critical Facilitating Learning

Are your client’s old patterns preventing them from innovating or growing? As coaches, we get assessed by our stakeholders on how we create awareness and manage progress and accountability within the learning agenda of our clients. Coaching from the Inside Out (vertical learning) using tools from the integral leadership and developmental psychology movements facilitate this learning. “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness’s of other people” C. Jung, 1973 When I started executive coaching 13 years ago, I coached predominantly around tactical leadership assisting high potentials to learn how to do something better, such as micro leadership skills, behaviours, structures and processes at the individual or collective levels—all exterior, tangible, quantitative, concrete outside-in thinking KPIs. As my work evolved I dipped into the mental models and meaning making framework of my clients’ through developmental and transformational coaching, which is more centred on longer term developments at the end of the coaching continuum. However, great change leadership must start on the inside, and I always knew that “change starts with self” or that an executive must “first manage himself before managing others.” What I had not realised was that this does not mean changing yourself, but accessing one’s highest and most conscious self. This paradigm shift of working from the inside-out as oppose to the outside-in is well documented and researched, and most self-help books, spiritual or religious cosmologies prone philosophies around the concept of self-actualization. Recently through my lived experience of coaching senior executives of Fortune 500s and founders of “scale-ups” (startups scaling at hyper growth speed), I noticed a pattern of coaching around executive presence, inner-flow, mindfulness, true-Self, higher-Self and their defence mechanism counterparts, such as conscious ego self and shadow aspects, competing commitments, engrained beliefs…etc. Most of my ambitious, competitive C-suite clients clearly exceed their competency expectations on all levels, and they understand that their next board level transition requires enabling “Level II learning (Argyris & Schon)” around their inner state qualities in order to lead in today’s uncertain, disruptive and increasingly uncontrollable world. As professor Ronald Heifetz has repeatedly stated, “The most common error organizations make is to try and solve adaptive challenges with technical means.” In any event, we can only coach from the same or greater level of consciousness as our clients. Their level of conscious awareness has to be greater than the current operating consciousness that shapes their organization as adaptive challenges require the invention of new knowledge, the creation of new thinking capacities to accomplish change and innovation. As my coaching practice evolved, working strategically in the stratospheres of organizations, I began to realise the importance of the journey of perfecting the authentic personality supporting my clients—Becoming Self. After all, leadership is about death and shedding one’s ego—”There is no birth of consciousness without pain” (Jung 1954). It involves coaching our clients’ thought patterns, emotions and bodies to free themselves from the fears, inhibitions, conditioned behaviours, reactive emotions, critical judgements and limiting beliefs that prevent them from achieving business and personal goals, and I always joke with my clients by asking how big is your life onion? My own journey to individuation using learning channels such as transpersonal psychology, supervision and psycho-spiritual science through shamanism, and its Andean cosmology has led me towards Transpersonal Development—Being Self—re-connecting with, knowing and ultimately realizing one’s true-Self and obviously being mirrored in parallel with my clients. To the same extent Personal and Transpersonal development overlap and integrate as much as Horizontal and Vertical Learning, we need both to achieve the learning results our clients are expecting from us. The real transformational coaching is to understand the consciousness of our client, the underlying beliefs and assumptions that impact decisions and behaviours—how to make the unconscious conscious and integrate the learning? From my perspective, the vertical integration is the most difficult in adult leaning. Investing in enhancing their leadership competencies at a micro level is important but not enough in today’s VUCA world. Image courtesy of Barrett C. Brown, Ph.D. As coaches, we have many tools from the integral leadership and developmental psychology movements to help and support our clients working from the inside-out; the subjective levels of vertical learning in order to raise their level of developmental consciousness – their internal state of being. My favourites are authors like K. Wilber (mapping a client’s or system AQAL constellation—check out ICF blog Team Coaching); Kegan & Lahey (understanding each client’s immune system that is blocking implementation.); C. Jung and Transpersonal Psychology (working with guided imagery; experiential art and dreams by owning our own shadow aspects as it will always come back to us—mirrored—through other people,); Otto Scharmer (Theory U and its social fields of change or consciousness especially at the collective level); and Bill Joiner (leadership “agility stages” that are rooted in well-documented stages of personal development.). What are your favourite sensory tools/authors in the vertical learning, integral leadership fields? This article was first published on the ICF (International Coach Federation) blog 22nd August 2017: #Change #Learning

Is your Inner Game interfering? A coach’s perspective on the ever-deepening journey of being a coa

As a professional executive leadership coach this dialectical story lead me to reflect on my work with high potential executives and how their readiness for coaching can potentially impact my coaching presence. The ICF defines this competency as the ability to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident. I have been using Lore’s 7-point coachability scale (see diagram below) for many years and noticed sometimes I am drained emotionally or physically coming out of engagements around the C3 (Fair Coachability) mark or would explode in gratitude from the C4 mark and above. So I began pondering, about my own coachability and how my unconscious judgements might be impacting my own personal ecosystem and outcomes in my life. How proficient am I in letting go of my own feelings or thoughts and behaviours, and recognise when they are impacting negatively on my own ecosystem? Even with 10 years of being a full-time coach, it continues to be a challenge and a further peeling of “the onion of awareness”. The notion of polarities of reactivity/pro-activity and how I innately decide to react to my external environment and relationships – learning more deeply to BE, rather than always do – have often come-up during my ‘supervision’ sessions. For example recently a client, who assessed at a C3 level of coachability, had been showing up in sessions complacent without any willingness to change and from this position, I experienced a sense of boredom and pestered inside on time wasted and purpose of these sessions, although these feelings and thoughts would fly by instantly I felt sometimes I wasn’t fully present during the coaching session. In my early days as a coach with insight, I often played the ‘rescuer’ in order to feel safe. I usually opted for the best outcomes with my clients and attached to the coaching results, noticed I was working harder than my clients because I needed to perform in front of their stakeholders. “That’s the way it is” until this awareness sequentially became a warning sign where some of my client’s readiness for coaching and my relationship to the coaching alliance had to be questioned and explored further. Coaching research suggests clients who are open, willing to look “deep inside” themselves, who have a healthy self-esteem and positive attitude and who have the ability to take feedback and reflect and are emotionally stable, are more “ready “for coaching. In this field, when my clients respond to strong feedback and an assertive but helpful way and see concrete benefits of change they are likely to support the process and stick with it if early results demonstrate those benefits. Leaving a session in this C4 spectrum usually makes me feel great, dancing with clients, I enjoy the flow of being in the now. I become a ‘connected observer to the client’ holding both objective and emotional perspective simultaneously aligned with the ICF competency definition of Coaching Presence. As a coach I know I’m not responsible for the result, we’re responsible for the coaching process, the follow-up, the timing…”that’s the way it is” or is it in the corporate environment with the perceived need to evaluate investment in coaching? The subject/object relationship in coaching presence or with any relationships with its underlying structures of meaning-making and how we construct the world is not easy to grasp because we can make assumptions and distort reality. The hook is the aspects of experience ‘what we’re subject to’ which we are not aware of, which we cannot take responsibility for and problem-solve around, running us unconsciously as we are subject to it, as in becoming ‘subject’ to the coaching outcome from my example ”that’s the way it is” until I moved one of my assumptions to a place where it is more of an object, something I could actually attend to, think about, and turn around a bit in my hands. I assumed that if I added value and felt recognised in my work, I could become a greater contributor, attracting more clients and find a more meaningful sense of purpose growing as an executive leadership coach. This notion of “subject/object reversal” well described in Kegan’s work and its five levels of qualitatively more complex ways of thinking is a process of learning development to the self-transforming mind (the highest level of consciousness in Kegan’s model) leading to coaching mastery - How can my outlook be more inclusive? Like the famous Chinese story with the horse and its multi-frame ”that’s the way it is” perspective, this awareness-building exercise that makes explicit that which is currently implicit is easier to outline than to achieve: it requires practice and reflection to develop the habits of noticing; awareness of self, other and relationship; letting go of outcomes and seeking win-win. Bill O’Brien, who’d served as CEO of Hanover Insurance, once said “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” ”that’s the way it is” as I notice a further peeling of “my onion of awareness”. #Coachability

Unlocking the Potential of a Team’s Resistance to Change in Team Coaching

The art and science of team coaching is much more complicated compared to one-to-one coaching because of all the interdependent parts within the working team. We cannot transform the behaviour of systems unless we transform the quality of attention that people apply to their actions within those systems, both individually and, more importantly, collectively. Most of the gridlocks occur at the collective level. As team coaches, our ability to co-create synergy through team coaching conversations, in order to reveal the underlying dynamics of the system, is a critical component to facilitating learning and results. This means the co-creation of the whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts (i.e., team members). In order for change to happen (creating awareness and designing actions), the collective needs to be able to understand its coaching purpose by turning the spotlight on itself and seeing the whole as a whole by the whole—the collective seeing the collective. While coaching a team of R&D expert specialists the other week, I stumbled upon this change metaphor, and it reminded me of my experience of the session. In terms of team coaching context, the system faced a resistance moving forward due to the complexity of the wider organizational settings. We were coaching a distributed, diverse, virtual, expert-leadership, cross-functional team with a wide diversity of trans-European stakeholders. The Metaphor: An ageing master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and drink it. “How does it taste?” the master asked. “Bitter!” spit the apprentice. The master chuckled. The two walked in silence to a nearby lake, where the master again asked the young man to put a handful of salt in the water. “Now drink from the lake. How does it taste?” “Fresh!” remarked the apprentice. “Do you taste the salt?” asked the master. “No,” said the young man. At this, the master sat beside the young man and offered: “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container into which we put the pain. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things…Stop being a glass. Become a lake.” During the evaluation team coaching of the first phase of work (a 6-month engagement) and through intensive stakeholder interviews in between team sessions, co-sensing the wider organizational settings, we were able to reframe the team’s burning platforms by coaching it to stop being a glass and become more of a lake (i.e., focusing internally on conflict and running away from systemic issues). The metaphor supported reframing and strategic thinking moving the team’s perspective from the inside-out to outside-in. The team coaches interviewed the sponsors and main stakeholders of the engagement and we had asked each team member to interview at least two or three interviewees in their own eco-system. By going outside of the team and co-sensing its environment through stakeholder meetings and coaching conversations, the different parts of the system became a lake. From my perception, one of the single most important leverage points for team leadership transformation is when you witness the team beginning to sense, feel and see itself not only in its current condition but also future potential; you see a shift of consciousness in the social field of conversations in real time—that is, the quality of listening and interaction among the team members. This article was first published on the ICF (International Coach Federation) blog May 31st 2016: Bernard Chanliau, ICF Ireland Coach of the Year in 2015 and owner of BC Leadership Team Coaching, holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) status since 2011. He has helped hundreds of senior leaders in the last decade (directors and above) accelerate their careers and achieve business objectives in a wide range of industries and coaches teams on strategic and leadership alignment. Co-founder of the Xenergie Systemic Team Coaching methodology and faculty member on its ICF/AC recognized Advanced Team Coaching Diploma, Bernard mentors team coaches and can be contacted at +353 (0)86 104 38 05 or #Change #Reframing


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