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CoachCast by IECL
28 minutes | 7 days ago
Leading in a Crisis
Guest Bio Clint CooperCEO, GrowthOpsA Chartered Accountant by training, Clint specialised in Corporate Insolvency with KPMG before diversifying into a progression of challenging executive roles in industry. After leading the performance turnaround of Freemans Insurance Services and setting them back on a path of sustainable growth, he joined Cricket Victoria. Over a 5-year tenure as CFO&COO, Clint oversaw the organisation’s contemporary rebrand, reinvigorated its commercial platform and strengthened financial and governance processes, ensuring the ongoing success of one of Australia’s oldest and most respected sporting institutions. In 2011 Clint established Cricket Victoria’s pioneering Twenty20 Big Bash League club, the Melbourne Stars. In October last year he was appointed to his current position as CEO and MD of GrowthOps – a holding company combining the complementary capabilities of its creative and digital agencies with the coaching and leader development services provided through IECL. SHOW NOTES In this rare interview Clint Cooper shares his leadership journey over the last decade from building a Club and supporter base as the first CEO of the Melbourne Stars Cricket Club, to his current role leading the turnaround of recently delisted company GrowthOps Limited. At the Stars he created an organisation from start-up to become one of the largest Clubs in the league. Over ten years he led an organisation in the very high-pressured, high-profile world of competitive sport through a deep commitment to the principles of fairness, honesty, camaraderie and the building of an environment where players and administrators alike loved to come work. In October 2020, after a short break he took on his role at GrowthOps and the challenge of turning around a company already under stress through a period of restructure and the impact of the Pandemic. In the space of a year he successfully steered the company of 400 people across six countries through an environment of considerable uncertainty to safer ground, largely from the confines of a small bedroom in suburban Melbourne. While extraordinarily challenging both physically and mentally, these circumstances allowed Clint to open his mind to what the actual opportunity of leadership could be when stripped to its core. Clint talks openly about the challenges and opportunities presented to him, what he has learned about himself and about leadership in this time, and the newfound levels of optimism and potential this has instilled in him for this next era of growth. Transcript Gabrielle Schroder: Clint, welcome to CoachCast by IECL. I must say it’s a great pleasure to have you here, face-to-face after many months of lockdown in Victoria. I hope you’re enjoying your time in Sydney.Clint Cooper:I certainly am. And thanks very much for inviting me into this wonderful podcast.Gabrielle Schroder: Wonderful. Let’s start with defining what leadership means to you. On your LinkedIn profile, you highlight that as an executive leader, you’re not just building a business, you’re leading a philosophy. Tell us more about that. What is your leadership philosophy?Clint Cooper:Very good question. I think it’s something that has evolved over time and I feel like it needs to be adaptable to the organisation, the situation you’re facing. I think the last 12 months, if we focus in on that, that’s been one of the most challenging leadership roles that I’ve had. And adapting to not only different challenging leadership roles that I’ve had. And adapting to not only different changes in an organisation and the financial health of an organisation, but really building a culture, I suspect is probably, the most challenging thing of any leadership. But my philosophy is really about people. I think that in any leadership capacity, if you don’t have the support, confidence and trust of your people, then you’re not really doing your job as a leader. I work pretty hard at doing that and instilling that confidence. I think the other real important part is ensuring people, despite how tough things may be, do have fun coming to work. They want to come to work. They want to enjoy the environment and build something together. I certainly have never seen myself as a leader that sits at the top of the tree and demands and commands, but more of a collaborative leader that sits there alongside in the trenches with everybody and really trying to get an outcome. Gabrielle Schroder: Fantastic. And I think we’ll touch a little bit on the last 12 months in particular, a little further on in the interview, but I want to start perhaps a little further back in your career. You’ve had a really stellar career largely in the very hyper competitive world of sport. And there’s, I think, an enormous amount that we can learn from that. But if I can get you to cast your mind back to 2011, when you moved from your role as CFO and Chief Operating Officer at Cricket Victoria, to be the first CEO of Melbourne Stars. How did you feel about landing that role? Clint Cooper:I was scared stiff. The way I found out about the role, Gab, was at a board meeting of Cricket Victoria. I had done interviews and the like, and the chairman started the meeting by saying, congratulations, you’ll be running the team that we think will play at the MCG. It doesn’t have a colour, doesn’t have a name and your coach is going to be Greg Shipperd, who ended up being a really great friend of mine. It was daunting, having been a bean counter most of my life and tipping into the sponsorship and commercial world, I was excited, but obviously very daunted by what was about to occur. We didn’t have a lot of resources. We didn’t have a lot of money, but the first thing that we did was go and find an impressive board, which included Eddie McGuire and John Wiley to name a few. And I think that’s where I built that probably false confidence in the first instance, that I had the backing of these two guys that would certainly guide me through what would be a pretty tumultuous couple of years around building a club and building essentially a franchise and a supporter base that was the largest in the competition.I think 10 years is a long time ago. And I certainly know a lot now about myself and the depth of what you need to go to, to build a club, but a culture not just on field, but off field. Having known cricket for a while and the administrators versus the players, there was that tension and it was always about how do we bring the two together. And that the players were treated equally as our staff and the staff equally as our players. And I think that paid off immensely over the journey for my time there in that, whether you are a social media contact coordinator, you were respected and treated exactly the same as if you were the captain or international recruit that came in. And the players, particularly, really bought into that and saw the club as a family. The players genuinely loved coming back to the family every year to enjoy that next journey together. And we had a lot of fun on the way too. Gabrielle Schroder: I find that absolutely fascinating because in sport it is so competitive. When you think about performance and performance in an organisation, particularly sport, it’s very public. On the day it’s win or lose, black or white, high stakes often. If you’re a losing team that often flows right to the bottom line. How do you create a performance culture in that high stakes context? Clint Cooper:Yeah. Big question to answer. I think players or sports people by their nature, are competitive beasts. They want to be the best. And so the best way to get peak performance is creating an environment or a culture where they’re relaxed and they enjoy their time. It’s not a task to come to work for them. It’s not a task to come to training. It’s not a task to do immediate performance. It’s actually something they love and enjoy. I think building that comradery and creating an environment, very different to every other club that was at the time. They loved coming to work and win, lose, or draw, they had a good time. In such a high pressure game, the hardest thing about being a leader of sports team is you can do everything off the field right. You can get the most sponsors and most attendees, the best marketing, but the moment they walk across that white line, you’ve got absolutely no control on the outcome, which is extremely hard to stomach. And I spent many a time downstairs in the car park of the MCG doing laps during games. Basically, I just couldn’t stand it to be honest. Gabrielle Schroder: You didn’t watch the game?Clint Cooper:Didn’t watch a lot of them, no. Particularly when they got tense. I would be often found roaming the car park by myself. But as an aside, the whole club joined in the celebration and the whole club actually joined in when we didn’t win. But the most important thing is, as a club on field and off, we’ll put the losses behind us very quickly. And that was led by such an amazing coach that we had that filtered the whole organisation, but being able to share the pain, I think, right across that organisation made us bigger and stronger and more resilient. Gabrielle Schroder: There’s the performance on the field, and then there is all that surrounds the game. Often in these high profile organisations you have a risk profile that’s quite different to other organisations. I’m going to particularly player behaviour and conduct risk. We’ve seen over the last little while successive Royal Commissions indicating that there’s very little tolerance in the community for misdemeanours and the buck falls squarely on the bard and the executive. Very difficult to manage and control behaviour. Talk to us a little bit about culture and then how you navigate that very tricky situation of supporting an organisation that is managing that risk. Clint Cooper:With a lot of fear, is probably the first answer. But I think people underestimate sports people, particularly…They’re exceptional, talented people, they are high performing. They ride the highs and they ride the lows, but on the whole, most of them are very good, genuine, kind-hearted people that know right from wrong. And you end up dealing with the issues by exception, if you can actually create the expectations of what it means to be part of this club, or the organisation at that time. We had Eddie McGuire, who’s very well-renowned, outspoken president, extremely influential, and that was a really good guiding stick for the club. Ed has very high public standards for his other affiliation with the Collingwood Football Club. It was almost like, well, we don’t want to upset Eddie either as a playing group. That’s a bit of a tone, but you need the players to actually buy into what that culture is. We did everything we possibly could to ensure that the way that they came into the Stars and the way they exited Stars, whether they exited as a player or retired, was exactly the same. They still have that same connection. And that’s largely driven by the playing group and the senior executives of any organisation that sets that tone. Everybody treated fairly, everybody understands what the common goal is. But building the expectations early in any given season and admittedly, reminding players what the expectations were, was a very strong part of our induction process every single year. Cricket for example, there’s obviously a lot of anti- corruption issues that surround the game. Ensuring every single year that our education was up to scratch. But you do deal with some high stakes personalities and some large egos, but on the whole, generally in my time, that was pretty good. The lesson I learnt though was pretty early in the piece that Eddie never wanted to read anything on the front paper of the Herald Sun. It didn’t matter what time of night that I called him if there was any particular issues, but thankfully I didn’t need to do that. Gabrielle Schroder: Yeah. Wonderful. It’s definitely a very good way of sharpening the focus, that headline on the front of the paper the next morning, nothing better. Fast track to 2019. And in, I think around June, the Stars and Renegades merge operations under Cricket Victoria, and you received a great deal of praise for the legacy that you had built and that you had left at the time, and I’m imagining that you were looking forward to a decent break after 10 years. And then of course, you get offered this role at GrowthOps. I’m interested to hear firstly, what compelled you to take on that role?Clint Cooper:I was enjoying a good break. In that sports game, whilst the games only go for six to eight weeks during a season it’s pretty full on for 12 months of the year. It was nice to let the hair down a bit, reacquaint myself with my family. From the outset, I was interested in staying sport. There’s something about sport and leadership and management that you struggle to find in any other… I’ve been an accountant, I’ve been at an accounting firm, you don’t get that passion that you do in a sports club. I was keen, but I also thought, well, where I am now, the skillsets that I’ve developed and the opportunities that I’ve been presented, there’s a bigger world out there. I was open to a lot more opportunities than just closing in on sport, not to say I wouldn’t go back to sport at some point in the future.This job appealed initially because it was a startup. For me, it sounded like there was, based on the representations that were made to me at the time, it was a startup, there was lots of opportunity for this business to grow. They were looking for somebody that can build a culture, who’s interested in commercials, who wants to get their hands dirty. I thought, why not? Didn’t know a lot about the industries that we currently are in, but you never say no to an opportunity because you don’t know everything about it. I think they best thing coming into this role is, I probably went back to my sweet spot of accounting and finance and insolvency background early on in the couple of months here at GrowthOps. But it was a job that appealed on the basis that there was a lot of variety and things that I could learn and continue to learn. Push forward 12 months and it’s probably been one of the best rides of my entire life. Being able to make meaningful decisions that are impactful and being accountable for those decisions, it’s been breathtaking. And you start challenging yourself as a leader because you don’t have the backup of anybody else. You’re the guy. But I have got an amazing executive team and amazing practice leadership team that have been incredibly supportive and made the job exceptionally easy. Gabrielle Schroder: You are talking about, effectively a turnaround situation. Did that context change the way you focused and led the business as compared to the history that you had with the Stars?Clint Cooper:Yeah, it did. It was certainly that eye opener in the first month or so. When at the Stars, you were starting something from complete scratch. Everything you’re doing was new and it was all about growth and excitement and razzle-dazzle. Here, there was some fundamental issues that needed to be corrected and understood and go forward. And the decisions or actions you’ve taken weren’t necessarily welcomed by everybody, but they were necessary decisions that needed to be made. I think what I learned very quickly is the leadership style that I had in the Stars was going to be very different to what ultimately came across into GrowthOps. We needed to be incredibly decisive early on, but very empathetic and then build relationships. I think if there’s anything that I pride myself on over the journey has been building strong relationships with key stakeholders and people. And whilst coming into an industry, I wasn’t a creative or I wasn’t a coach, or I wasn’t a digital native, but being able to build that relationship on a different level has certainly paid off and something that I, to this day and will continue to work really hard on, ensuring that is the mantra of my leadership.Gabrielle Schroder: Given my role here, I’ve had the benefit of observing some of the things that you’ve had to deal with, really hard complex people and organisational problems – really difficult to solve. And in the middle of it, I know too, you’ve had some very difficult personal circumstances to deal with as well. As a leader, you’re managing the ups and downs of life and you’re also carrying the significant weight of leading a company and the impact of those decisions that you have to make on people. How do you steel yourself for that? And what does performance look like in that context? Clint Cooper:Well, performance in that context early on was survival. And as difficult as those early decisions were, there wasn’t another alternative unfortunately. But being able to make those decisions and set the organisation up. If we hadn’t had made those decisions, COVID has come and probably, we would have been gone too. I think it’s hard to put an exact label on it, but I think the decisiveness and the need to concurrently build relationships, it’s almost two opposite things coming together. Because on the one hand, you’re trying to build trust, I’m the new guy, I want to lead you through. On the other hand, you’re having to make some decisions that are completely opposite to that. But I feel immensely confident going forward that the hard work that everybody’s done collectively has set this company onto the path that it needs to be. And I’m immensely proud of that. But even more, on self-reflection over the last, just before the AGM, thinking about what the year’s been like, and what are the ups and downs. It’s funny, you forget about the downs. You do start focusing on the ups and there has been lots of ups. And I think that’s what builds the fire in your belly to go further. And seeing some amazing acts of kindness and transparency across the organisation and people doing that extra yard over some of the most difficult periods and not just in a professional capacity, but in a personal capacity. I think coming out of this, I said to someone the other day, I feel like whilst our organisation was disparate when we first came, in COVID and the changes have somehow weirdly made us closer despite being apart. And I think we’ve got something very special to build upon that. Gabrielle Schroder: Yeah. The common experience that we’ve all had, but of course it’s not precisely common, the COVID hit different states in different ways, and different countries in different ways. You’re based in Melbourne and have had to deal with an extraordinary set of circumstances through the lockdown. It’s layer upon layer, isn’t it, in terms of dealing with this particular crisis. There’s the context that you’re dealing with, the uncertainty of it all, in the business you’re having to lead people through a very very difficult and challenging period. And they’re all going through the similar ups and downs that we all are as leaders. When you’re looking at the qualities of leadership through a circumstance like that, what have you observed of yourself and perhaps of others that you’ve observed?Clint Cooper:I think I found probably the level of strength that I never though I had before. Mental strength, because you are dealing with sitting in a very small room at home with two screaming kids most of the day, and trying to manage the positivity of an organisation of 400 people across six countries from a very small bedroom was challenging. I think it opened my mind to what the actually opportunity was. And I took more pride in trying to connect with people one-on-one, which you can do in the office environment. You can walk around and check on everybody, but every single day throughout COVID, I was pinging people on Slack or text messages and just had a rotating board, if you like, to try and build that personal connection that I am here, and I am thinking, and I genuinely care about your welfare. I think that to me has been the most important thing, how important the mental health of our staff are during situations like this, but even more so going forward, it’s such an integral part of work-life balance. I think I’ve certainly found that. I think one of the sayings from early on was that we needed to act with resilience. And I think the resilience shown by everybody in this organisation has been first-class. But I think I probably found myself at a high level of resilience that I even thought I had because you were dealing with multiple issues across multiple timeframes without the counsel of anybody to just talk to. But I had some great colleagues that I can pick up the phone and have a rant every now and then, which was good.I think the last thing too, we talked a little bit before about that steel, how do you steel yourself or making those big changes? Throughout this process, particularly, a lot of thought has gone into it. Just a different level of thinking, you never ever want people to lose their jobs or their livelihoods or anything like that. The ability to think through a problem or a situation, because nine times out of 10, that first solution is not the right solution. It might be the easiest solution or the fastest solution. Really taking the time to consider. And sometimes, I’m sure some of my executive team would be frustrated in the times that I took to make certain decisions, but I think that extra time gave me the confidence that a decision was right, or what path I ultimately took. Gabrielle Schroder: Yeah, and I know this has been a theme throughout your career, the thing that people really do recognise in you, is your honesty and the candid way in which you approach problems and that you will talk them through. And I love this idea of actually seeing the problem right through to the end, which is something that I’ve absolutely observed in you. In thinking about the most recent experience, how has that changed your philosophy on leadership, if at all?Clint Cooper:I think it’s a really good question, Gab. I think, probably what it’s confirmed is leadership, it’s not just a steady state. It’s got to continue to evolve and evolve to the situation or the mandate or whatever is occurring in the organisation, but I think as a people we’ve become more empathetic and that’s not just in our organisation but everywhere. I think there’s this certain level of trust and transparency that probably wasn’t there in the past. People would work from home. Yeah, you’re working from home, I’m sure you’re working from home. But now you see what our people and people around the globe have been doing, working from home in some difficult circumstances. You can’t be the old style leader or manager expecting people to be here at 9:00 and finish at 5:00 and they’re in the office and all that sort of stuff. I think that’s the new world of leadership – absolute, implicit trust in your team and leaders to actually deliver what the business and what they need to do. Gabrielle Schroder: In closing, we are sitting here, it’s early December and we’re recording this podcast in Sydney. We’re socially distant, but that must be a big relief for you to be here. How do you think this experience has changed us as a company and the outlook that we have? Clint Cooper:Yeah. I’m just so enthusiastic for what the future holds. I think for this company to survive what it has and the tumultuous time that it has over a very short-spaced period of time, in reality, to get through COVID and to come out the other side. And to be fair, we’ve managed to keep most roles employed throughout that whole journey. Which in many industries, hasn’t occurred. We have this new-found resilience, this new-found comradery that’s only going to hold us in greater stead for the future. I think I’ve said earlier today, in some other dispatches that I feel like now going into this new era, into the new unlisted environment, that we are in control of our destiny and we have a lot more flexibility and capability. You’ve got an executive team and a chairman, particularly who’s just that driven by success that it’s going to benefit the entire organisation. And I truly hope that people who have been here for a long time and ridden the down times are going to share on the upside very soon. Gabrielle Schroder: What are you most looking forward to the new year ahead? Clint Cooper:I think it’s setting a new strategy and new direction. We’ve endorsed a new strategy at board level, but now it’s about being able to go see people face-to- face, to be able to explain that. I found it incredibly difficult to lead from a video screen. I much preferred the one-to-one interaction, but now, coming into the Sydney office and seeing people that have actually got legs, to engage with them. And I think you get that real sense. I could never find the sense of, you couldn’t read people, you can’t read people through a screen. You sit in a room with 30 people around for lunch and you can read them. And I think there is a level of excitement and enthusiasm and opportunity that is ahead for everybody. Gabrielle Schroder: Yeah. It’s that connection, isn’t it? It’s the human-to-human connection, which is what we’re all about at IECL. And it really does make you understand what you take for granted in a very big way. In a lot of respects, although it’s been terribly difficult, it was probably the very best year for learning and for growth. Clint Cooper:Absolutely, yes. I doubt there’s not anyone in the world that hasn’t learned something about themselves or their leadership or management or whatever it is that’s going to improve them into the future. Gabrielle Schroder: On that note, thank you Clint for your time and for sharing your insights and learnings with us. It’s been really fabulous chatting with you today and we wish you all the very best for the year ahead.Clint Cooper:Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
21 minutes | 2 months ago
Guest Bio Jane Porter head of coaching & coach accreditation, IECL Jane is the head of coaching at IECL, a role that leads and advises on the strategy modelling and approaches for coaching development. She oversees IECL’s large scale coaching programs for public, private, and not for profit clients, and also leads the development and delivery of IECL’s, ICF accredited coach training pathways, and ongoing professional development. Jane is passionate about increasing the professionalism of the industry and its strategic impact on organizational life. Jane, brings a wealth of knowledge and vast experience as an ICF master coach, educator, supervisor, and mentor across the Asia Pacific region. Thank you so much for being with us today. SHOW NOTESCoaching supervision is about creating a reflective space for the coach to think about their practice as a coach, but also reflect on themselves. It is in the context of self-care, increasing awareness of themselves as coach, being able to look at what is working and what is not, what stays with them after a coaching session and why that thing is staying with them. Also, a space to think through ethical dilemmas, tricky situations, perhaps mental health considerations that show up in coaching. Transcript Jane Porter: Thank you for having me.Renee Holder:Okay, so we’re looking at supervision and there are a number of varying definitions of supervision for coaches. How do you define supervision in a coaching context? Jane Porter:Primarily supervision is about creating a reflective space for the coach to think about their practice as a coach, but also reflect on themselves. So I think about it in the context of self care, increasing their awareness of themselves as coach, being able to look at what’s working and what’s not, perhaps what stays with them after a coaching session and why that thing is staying with them. And also a space to think through ethical dilemmas, tricky situations, perhaps mental health considerations that show up in coaching. So while the coach is busy working in service of the counterpart in the organization, who’s in service of the coach? And I’d say that’s the supervisor. Renee Holder:And you insist that all IECL coaches undertake supervision. Why is this? Jane Porter:Some of the reasons I think what I’ve just articulated there in that first question. As coaches, even if we’re part of an organization, when we’re out there in the world, in the practice of coaching, sitting in front of the counterpart, working with the organizations, there’s a large piece of self-regulation in that role and being present with what the counterpart and the organization needs and working to keep your own…not your own thinking, but your own content out of that space and that’s not easy. So there’s a quality assurance piece for us at IECL that I didn’t mention earlier around knowing that when a coach bumps up against any of those things we referred to, they have somewhere to go where they can put that thing down, they can have a look at it in a safe space with somebody who can help them explore what might be going on, what might have triggered that thing for them, what the learning in that might be for them, and how that then applies to them as a coach, a human being, and also to their practice so that they’re then also more resources to step back out into the industry, the counterpart, the organization and do their job well. Renee Holder:And you run supervision groups yourself?Jane Porter:I do, yes.Renee Holder:What draws you to being a supervisor?Jane Porter:I have been a supervisor longer than I’ve been a coach. One of my previous lives before I joined the coaching industry and trained to be a coach was in the world of counselling, and counselling supervision certainly in the field that I was working in was mandated. So very early in my counselling career, I had a supervisor and fortunately a great supervisor. So my supervision experience very early on was very positive. The ability to sit with somebody to reflect on you, your practice was just gold. And in time as I grew in that industry, I became a supervisor of others. So interestingly though, when I joined the world of coaching, I didn’t get supervision. We’re 15 years on now since I joined the world of coaching and I don’t know why, but at the time I didn’t join the dots. You know, supervision was something that then in my head belonged in therapeutic practices. Now I was a coach, I didn’t need it. How wrong I was, because when I started to grow as a coach and develop as a coach and bump up against things that were difficult, challenging, that I couldn’t make sense of, I had nowhere to put them and would carry these things around, and it impacted me, it impacted my practice, it impacted my life more broadly. It impacted people I live with. So it’s really interesting reflecting back now that I didn’t connect the dots that I already had this thing and used to do this thing that could have helped me enormously. So when I started to hear the word supervision talked about in the coaching industry, I was immediately curious and also sold because I knew about its benefits from my counselling practice. And ever since I have been following that trail very avidly, getting qualifications in that space in terms of coaching supervision and developing myself as a coaching supervisor as well as a coach. And I have also been in coaching supervision ever since I had that realization, joined those dots, and woke up to myself. Renee Holder:You also deliver IECL supervision training. So I’ve just heard you talk about having undertaken that professional development yourself, but you’re delivering some of that training for others. Jane Porter:Absolutely. Renee Holder:As they choose to become supervisors. So who do you see that supervision training best suited to? Jane Porter:I’m going to make a broad statement, and coach who is serious about their practice, I would say, should be in supervision in terms of supervision training. So, if you want to train to be a supervisor, I would say make sure you’ve been in supervision for a good period yourself. So you appreciate it from a supervisee perspective. Also, a coach who is looking to extend their practice. So one of the things that training as a supervisor, as a coaching supervisor did for me is it helped me take my practice as coach further. It had me thinking in ways about coaching and exploring coaching in ways that I had not done in coach training. So, it broadened my view on reflective practice, the advantages of reflective practice and all the different types of reflective practices as well. So yeah, some people come to our training as supervisor or to become supervisors, some people come to stretch themselves as coaches. Renee Holder:I’m keen to hear more from you about how you see supervision improving the quality of coaching. So, as you work with supervisees in your groups for instance, and you see them come back and over time they have undertaken more and more supervision. How do you say that impacts the quality of the work that they do in their coaching? Or for yourself? Jane Porter:Well absolutely for myself. So, I might speak from that point of reference rather than speak on behalf of others, because when I come out of a supervision session, what has happened is either I have expanded awareness about something that is going on or I have been able to sense make of something that I couldn’t make sense of that was happening for me in a session or in a coaching relationship because not everything is isolated to the session. And with that, it allows me to re-center and reground in my practice, which I hope then means the next time I turn up and coach, the quality of my coaching is better. So, there is a quality of how I apply the craft that is tuned if you like. It is like kind of tuning an instrument. If I don’t stay tuned to who I am as a human being and what’s happening for me, then that is going to not only impact me, it’s going to impact the counterpart and the organization. So, it’s a way of staying honed and tuned. And sometimes, it’s so interesting. Sometimes I go into a session with my supervisor where I think, “I’ve got nothing to bring today,” but I go anyway because I’m a convert and there’s always something. So some of the things that get worked on in supervision are in my immediate awareness. I’m struggling with something and I take that in. Some of the things are not yet in my immediate awareness, they’re sitting more subconsciously and when the supervision process starts, the insights start to come on. Oh yes, no I wasn’t entirely comfortable, then was I? I think also supervision can be perceived to just focus on what’s perhaps not working as well as it might. I think there’s also a space in supervision for us to work on what’s working well. How do we understand what you did there and bottle that so you can do more of it? Renee Holder:And I’d like to hear again from your personal experience around the different types of supervision, because I’m aware that there is one on one and it sounds like from your example then that there’s a one-on-one supervision that you’ve undertaken but also group. Jane Porter:Absolutely.Renee Holder:And that you deliver both. So could you talk a little to the different types and potentially also to the modes? Because the supervision could be delivered face-to-face, it could be virtual, increasingly virtual. So could you talk a little to that, the different types of supervision? Jane Porter:Absolutely. So let’s start with one-on-one. So with one-on-one supervision, there’s just you and the supervisor. So you’re bringing your thoughts, perhaps cases. Sometimes supervision will happen through the lens of a case where we experience what happened in the session or in the relationship in the past. We bring that into conversation around how are you experiencing that in the present? And then start to look at what you might want to do with that in the future. So in one-on-one supervision, the spotlight is on you the whole time. So you do get the opportunity, let’s say the session in an hour, to perhaps bring a couple of cases in that time to look at really thoroughly. And also what happens there is you have that one-on-one relationship with your supervisor. Over a series of sessions patterns develop. Rarely, even though the case may look completely different, rarely is the issue completely different, your own patterning shows up and you’re in dialogue with your supervisor around, oh, there’s that thing that I’m doing again. And a one on one relationship will reveal that perhaps more quickly I think than a group. So in the group space, what you get is up to six people working together, either in a face-to-face context or virtually across a platform like Zoom. I will say when working virtually, if you’re going to do virtual supervision, make sure the platform is a good one and make sure you’ve got some good bandwidth to be able to do the work. And what happens in group supervision is again, cases do get looked at, but the group dynamics and the group impact of the case can be really, really interesting to explore. So let’s say I bring a case of an ethical dilemma that I’m experiencing. Once I have had some supervision on that from the group and from the supervisor, it can be really interesting to pause and explore. What’s that bringing up for others in the group in terms of what they heard and what they’re experiencing? And it’s really fascinating systems and group dynamics at work that usually what’s happening for the individual being supervised connects to something for everybody in the group. So you get that richness of work across a number of people that I would say is missing in one-on-one supervision. I also think in the group space and network builds, so there’s a cohort and a collective community of practice that builds and I see in group supervision, once the supervision is done, sometimes time may be taken to discuss industry themes, trends, challenges. So there’s a collective and a community of practice there that builds, which can be really helpful and really supportive. Renee Holder:It sounds like there’s some great benefits of both one-on-one and group. Jane Porter:Yes. You know, I’m a convert and I would recommend both. Renee Holder:So if time and budget were no issue.Jane Porter:Absolutely. In supervision utopia. Renee Holder:And when a coach is looking for a supervisor, potentially it’s the first time they’re undertaking supervision, what are some tips that you might provide to them in order to find the right supervisor for them?Jane Porter:Yeah. Interview a couple. Have a conversation with a couple. Maybe see if you can get… If you’ve never had supervision before, maybe see if you can get a little bit of a taster session from somebody because it is, particularly the one-on-one, it’s a hot seat to sit in. I come out of my supervision sessions when I’ve been in the supervisee seat feeling like I’ve worked really hard, sometimes a bit of sweaty palms and the pressure’s on for you to really look at yourself and your practice in a useful way, and that can be confronting for some initially. I think for some, sometimes the group space is an easier entry into supervision because whilst the spotlight will be on you for some of the time, it’s not on you for all of the time so you get that opportunity to feel that tension coming on but then the tension coming off again. But I would be looking for a taster from somebody to say could we spend 10 minutes where you just start to show me what this is like? Because it’s very hard to I think translate some of the language we use around supervision and then understand what that actually means in practice. Even just the word, there’s a lot of association around the word supervisor in therapeutic practice, which we talked about. And you hear sometimes in therapeutic practice that people are just going to the supervisor or to get the ticks in the boxes they need to be able to renew their qualification and their status in the practice. So it doesn’t always get a good rep. And of course in organizational life we talk about the supervisor, who is the manager of a body of work. So I think the language we use around it is not necessarily helpful. I tend to think of it as separating the two words out. So it we had the word super and vision as separate words and we had the ability to develop a super vision of our practice, then I think it’s much more meaningful in terms of its intense, certainly in coaching, supervision. Renee Holder:Super vision, I like that. So what does the future hold for supervision? Jane Porter:What does it hold or what would I like it to hold?Renee Holder:What would you like… Let’s go with what you’d like it to hold. Jane Porter:I am bias and one eyed about this, as you have probably picked up as we are talking. I would love for every professional coach out there in the marketplace to be in some kind of supervision. I would also love for internal coaches that are being trained in organizations to coach internally to get way more supervision support than they do, because it’s a complex role. There’s a lot of internal coach training happening in our world at the moment and that’s great. Building internal coaching capacity I think is a wonderful thing, but the piece that’s missing for me is who’s taking care of those coaches and who’s helping them develop their practice and where’s quality assurance, and how does the organization best get return on investment for the money that they’ve spent on those people? Because being an internal coach is complex. You’re in the system, you’re caught in the dynamic, you’re wearing many hats. Rarely internally is the person just a coach. They’re often HR professionals, managers, leaders, and potentially a whole bunch of other things as well. So it I were to see the industry develop, that would be my wish is that we support the internal coaches with supervision now. Renee Holder:Okay. Well, we’ll wrap up there. It’s been great to hear from you today about all things supervision. I’m now going to be thinking of super vision every time I hear that word. And it’s been great to hear your insights and just to hear your stories about what actually happens in that supervision space and what people can look for when seeking supervision or becoming a supervisor themselves. So really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for being our guest today. Jane Porter:Thank you, Renee Holder.
42 minutes | 3 months ago
Trends emerging amongst directors in boardrooms
Guest Bio Robert Newman Robert Newman is an organisational psychologist, executive coach, director and managing partner with Change Focus Group, an advisory and consultancy firm providing organisational psychology services. Robert specialises in board, director and executive dynamics, leadership coaching and change management. A key element of Rob’s work is predicting peoples motives and future actions in corporate settings, using principles from leadership psychology and behavioral economics to influence their decisions, and coaching leaders to apply this for themselves. SHOW NOTES In this episode Robert Newman explores the two key trends emerging amongst directors in boardrooms. Directors are getting a clear message that they are going to be held responsible for the performance and behaviour within their organization. There’s been historically an expectation that directors were there to support and advise a management team who took responsibility for the organization. But royal commissions of recent years and governance failures of recent years have pointed out very clearly that directors hold a significant amount of liability when it comes to poor behaviour and poor performance by organizations.So directors are being shocked by that, equally, but that’s also leading directors to recognize that the community expects them not just to be responsible for ensuring and maximizing profits, and ensuring return for shareholders, which a number of directors thought was their primary role, represent shareholders. But the community doesn’t expect just that anymore. They expect the board to represent the long-term interests of the organization, and especially its responsibilities and interactions with the wider community. And so boards are recognizing that their responsibilities are out to a wider stakeholder group than perhaps many of them thought. And many moving and stepping up to that mark. So I think that’s important.I think those two dynamics are supported by a third dynamic, so what the hell can these directors do about these responsibilities? They can’t lead the organization, manage the organization, that’s what they hire the C-suite for. So they recognizing as a collective, that at times, even though we’re the smartest people, we hire smart people and capable people, which most of them are, we have good intent, we still make bad calls. So boards are now looking at themselves in the way they make decisions and are aware that they haven’t always as an industry, boards and directors haven’t always done that job well. So they’re wanting to open up that black box of, how do we produce the decisions we have? And how do we ensure that they’re the right ones that the community and the rest of the world would expect of us? Transcript Renee Holder: So, Rob, some of our listeners are coaches with an organizational psychology qualification, but many of them do not. So for those who are curious to understand the connection, could you talk to the application of organizational coaching in the executive coaching work you undertake.Robert Newman: So organizational psychology, everyone would have heard of the term psychology, organizational psychology is the application of that in corporate setting. But let’s go right back to what a psychologist does, because all organizational psychologist (org psych) started with a base of psychology training. A psychologist looks at the individual’s values, personality, motives, drivers, talents, skills, hopes, fears, intellect, and how all those attributes come together to affect behaviour, and whether the behaviour is effective or ineffective given the context it’s within. So that’s a psychologist. And so, we have people that analyse people and provide counselling or interventions to help them get on in life, better deal with their depression or whatever. That’s a psychologist. An organizational psychologist takes all of those attributes and looks at them in the context of a job, of a workplace, of an organizational culture. So an organizational psych looks at how individuals bring their talents, experiences, values, humanity, to the tasks they have to do, and how collectively together they can operate with other individuals, so teams, divisions to produce outputs in a corporate setting. And I suppose from an organizational psych’s point of view, we’re interested in not just individuals, but how they look collectively, and how human beings interact with structures and systems and work processes and business models within the context of an organization. And how all of those interactions between those systems are supported by strategy, supported by culture, are supported by oversight and governance by management and boards.So an org psych looks at the whole system, and how behaviour plays a big part of it, both at the individual and collective level. If I go a little bit further and say, what does an org psych do in a boardroom or an executive team, I’m looking at, and in particular in boardrooms, I’m looking at how behaviours of individuals aggregate in a collective behaviour to produce decisions. Because essentially boards main responsibility is to produce decisions that offer a direction and oversight for an organization. So I’m looking at how individuals perform collectively together to produce effective or ineffective oversight and governance decisions.Renee Holder: We know there’s a number of industries who are currently under increased scrutiny, governance and that decision making process you just referred to is really in the spotlight. So your work really gives you a unique insight into how this current environment is influencing conversations in the boardroom. What have you been hearing in recent times?Robert Newman: Two key trends are emerging amongst directors in boardrooms now. And I think many of the listeners will be familiar with at least one of these. The first one is, directors are getting a clear message that they are going to be held responsible for the performance and behaviour within their organization. I think there’s been historically an expectation that directors were there to support and advise a management team who took responsibility for the organization. But royal commissions of recent years and governance failures of recent years have pointed out very clearly that directors hold a significant amount of liability when it comes to poor behaviour and poor performance by organizations.So directors are being shocked by that, equally, but that’s also leading directors to recognize that the community expects them not just to be responsible for ensuring and maximizing profits, and ensuring return for shareholders, which a number of directors thought was their primary role, represent shareholders. But the community doesn’t expect just that anymore. They expect the board to represent the long-term interests of the organization, and especially its responsibilities and interactions with the wider community. And so boards are recognizing that their responsibilities are out to a wider stakeholder group than perhaps many of them thought. And many moving and stepping up to that mark. So I think that’s important. I think those two dynamics are supported by a third dynamic, so what the hell can these directors do about these responsibilities? They can’t lead the organization, manage the organization, that’s what they hire the C-suite for. So they recognizing as a collective, that at times, even though we’re the smartest people, we hire smart people and capable people, which most of them are, we have good intent, we still make bad calls. So boards are now looking at themselves in the way they make decisions and are aware that they haven’t always as an industry, boards and directors haven’t always done that job well. So they’re wanting to open up that black box of, how do we produce the decisions we have? And how do we ensure that they’re the right ones that the community and the rest of the world would expect of us?Renee Holder: Rob, you mentioned a moment ago that we are talking about smart, highly qualified, mostly well-intentioned directors who are sometimes making some poor, poor for decisions that don’t reflect well on themselves and their organizations. So why is it? Why are these poor decisions being made?Robert Newman: Okay. So the question is, why do good people end up sometimes doing bad things? I can probably answer this question from two perspectives. One would be, why does this happen in the C-suite? Why do the executive sometimes who are all generally highly qualified … In Australia, we rarely have people at this level, who we would call incompetent or even poorly-intentioned. So that’s something we can wipe out. So it happens in the C-suite and it happens in the boardroom for slightly different reasons. So I might start with the C-suite first. So why do highly experienced, capable, highly competent, motivated and motivated in terms of their bonuses associated with some of these business outcomes, why do they at times in the C-suite, the executive team, why do they fail? Why do they make dumb decisions that lead to royal commissions, for example.And if I look at that in the body of knowledge that we have accumulated in org psychology, at least over time, we’re actually seeing that all the capability and good intention in the world falls foul when individuals get into a group and derailers behaviours emerge. And so I think a number of your listeners would have heard of leadership derailers. These are talents that are often quite heavy, lots of them in executive roles. That’s how people got to the top, they have these massive talents, but they get the dark side of the talent comes out when they’re under threat, or in contentious and difficult circumstances. And that’s what we see in the C-suite. We’ll see the dogmatic behaviours of a CEO, we’ll see the competitive behaviours of other executives competing for the same pie in terms of budget or in terms of tension of the board. And those behaviours lead to poor decision making.And associated with that as some technical elements, the systemic stuff on looking at the remuneration schedules, what are people giving bonuses for? And there’s a lot of perversity in terms of bonus schemes. When you get people to focus on increasing profits, what you’ll find is that something else will be burnt to do that, and it might be for example, they start selling stuff to people who they shouldn’t be selling it to, etc. So the perversity associated with those schemes. Essentially, the bad behaviour comes out in the boardroom and plays out in some of the systems and processes. So that’s how, I suppose, smart, well-intentioned people operate badly in the executive team.What does it look like in the boardroom? It’s a little bit different because the board essentially only really has two roles. It doesn’t run the business per se, it doesn’t implement strategies or anything like that. That’s the management team, the executive team. The board’s job is to make decisions, number one, and provide oversight, number two. Really, those are the outputs of this groups. As a group, people that come together for about, it’d be about 30 hours a year, once a month at the most, to make these decisions and provide the steering of this organization. So how do those well-intentioned people and well-skilled people make poor decisions? We actually find those derailers come in again, this is the individual behaviours, but it actually creates a particular culture within the boardroom. And then we would have seen recently in boardrooms to look at, is there certain types of cultures that are created in boardrooms that lead to governance failure, and there are some. And they’re created by individual behaviours collectively aggregating into a certain culture, maybe sceptical culture or a culture that’s very hands-off within the boardroom that allows bad decisions or poor oversight. So it’s not individuals intentions, but its collective outcomes within a board, especially around decision making, its willingness to have oversight.Also, within the boardroom, they have things that lead to failure are the processes for decision making. These are people who have access to all information that the organization is willing to provide, but it’s just too much. They have an hour to make a really complex decision and they’re just not going to be over all of the detail. The management team has all the detail and can provide the board what they like. So the board needs to have powerful decision making analyst analysis processes, and often boards don’t approach that in perhaps a formal or methodical manner. So decision making at the board level can sometimes be a little ad-hoc. And so boards filed through not being aware of how they’re making decisions, they fail through poor behaviours, mostly in terms of what’s the mindset and culture that is created in the boardroom. That’s how board failure happens.Renee Holder: I understand that you contribute to and facilitate AICD’s advanced courses in director behaviour and managing dynamics in the boardroom. Through these courses, you explore how decisions are made and look at some of the consequences of those decisions. So how would you suggest we best support directors towards good governance?Robert Newman: Okay. What’s important here is that directors tend not to want to take on coaches. That’s an important point. Many of these people have been at the top of their game, they perhaps had coaches as executives, they got to the top. And at this point, they’re feeling perhaps, who would coach them? They’re at the top. Who would offer that advice? And a number of them are in the time in their career where they don’t really necessarily want to face some of the demons. They had to do that when they were in their executive roles. So they’re hoping that perhaps they’re a fully formed perfect decision maker at this point.So coaching is only acceptable to a particular type of director. So we still coach directors, but not many of them seek it. Whereas with executives, it’s a relatively common request. And the primary difference for an executive is they still have their goals that they need to achieve. They’re targeted towards their bonuses or whatever else. And their success and fire is highly visible and they’ll be held to account for that. So coaching seems, I’ll do anything to improve my performance, because it’s visible, and I’m bonused on it, and my whole career lies on it.A director doesn’t have that same sort of visibility in terms of outcomes in their performance. So coaching is not a big deal. But if the question is how do we help coaches? Sorry, how do we help directors? As coaches, what can we do? First point for me was, if I’m working with boards, one of the key things I want to work with is, or want to train them, it’ll help them with is providing peers feedback. These are people who they need to influence, move with and get on well with on a regular basis, their peers. So I would be coaching or training the group of directors in how to provide each other feedback, how to do it regularly, and how to do it to the point where they’re providing the honest truth rather than second versions of that. So we can help directors by helping them to give each other feedback about their performance, their behaviour and their influence.I think the second thing we can do with boards that help them, in particular, from a coaching point of view, is to train chairs in how to support groups in collective decision making, and how to support groups using different models of decision making, intuitive models, more rational and methodical models. Because boards are often dealing with decisions with such complexity that sometimes they need to gut feel as part of their analytical toolkit. So training chairs on how to run meetings, such that those different decision making models can be brought to the fore in decision making and boardroom meetings. So training chairs.I think a third area for me was coaches can actually train collectively a board or help a board gain deeper insight into its own dynamic. The boardroom or their own group dynamics. And they might be using models like team development models and doing a survey with the group and providing them feedback about the level of trust and honesty in the room, the level of commitment to each other, the level of willingness to step up and fight negative feedback, et cetera. That sorts of stuff that you would do in a team development activity by doing an analysis and then providing feedback to the group for them to recognize where they’re at. Doing a collective profiling for the group.So profiling, using some psychometric tools, whatever they may be, personality values, whatever you like. And showing the group what they look like as a group. And identifying are there any collective blind spots. An example might be, you may have a board which is full of people on a personality scale have low adjustment, highly passionate driven people, but a tendency to be disappointed and get a little bit of moody and at times probably a little angry and annoyed and frustrated with each other. So if you have a group of people that predominantly have that and you’re able to feedback, you guys are passionate, what’s the downside of that? And allow the board themselves to make some commitments within the boardroom about how they interact with each other.You might have noticed in my theme of how to support boards. Essentially the board is a decision making collective, it’s a collective brain. And the most powerful coaching we can do is train the brain. Train the collective brain how to manage itself, which means give them tools to start setting expectations and making commitments between each other. Rather than the individual coaching that we’re more familiar with at the executive level.Renee Holder: So Rob, we’re starting to get a sense of the sort of work you’re doing at the board level. Could you share with our listeners one or two examples of a specific scenario or two, where you’ve been engaged to work at the board level and the sorts of outcomes that you’ve been able to achieve.Robert Newman: Okay, very good. I might start with one which perhaps and coaches would be more familiar, perhaps people who’ve done team development. I mean, this might resonate for many listeners. One of the things we have boards, and we need to remember this or a couple things about boards we need to remember. Number one, these are people that don’t know each other particularly well, they rarely see each other, once a month at the most. Sometimes they’re actually put on boards for a particular role. They might represent unions, for example, or they might the representative of a venture capitalist that’s funding the business, or they might be a community rep. So people have particular roles there. And not everyone actually understands what is the difference between governance and managing a business.So people that don’t know each other, don’t always know their role, and at times come with not so much hidden agendas, but varied agendas. And yet as a board, they need to collectively land on what is most important for this business for us to focus on. And they need to be looking out for a collective understanding or creating a collective understanding of what is in the best interest of this business and always pursue that. So people who don’t know each other, people who don’t agree necessarily on what’s the right thing to focus on, and people who don’t always know the role, have to do this collective thing. So it’s a relatively complicated thing to do.And yet, when I look sometimes with groups, I use a basic board. I might use a basic intervention that many team development guys are familiar with, and that is, let’s set some ground rules on how we are to have discussions. So as I said, lots of team development people would be quite familiar with this. It’s sitting down with the group and saying what’s the purpose of this board? What’s your goal? What do your meetings look like? Very good. What’s some ground rules of the way you would like to discuss or topics or to progress those discussions or interact with your colleagues? So let’s set some ground rules. And once those ground rules are set, how do we make them live?So we’re setting some agreements around how people are to transact their role in the boardroom. And primarily, you set those ground rules so that over time people gain trust and respect of each other because people follow the rules. And when the rules are followed, trust and respect emerges. I can predict what you’ll do, that’s something I can then see you as reliable because you’ll follow the rules. And then we actually stop forgetting rules because we don’t need them anymore because our foundation now, our common ground is a degree of trust and respect that I can say things to you and you will respond appropriately in a productive manner that helps us move forward. So establishing ground rules with a group. Now, that would probably will be one of my most basic interventions I would do with the boards. But when you think about it, you often use those sorts of tools with most of your work. So I think about it, that’s probably about 30% of my work I might do that. At least as initial intervention with a board. If I take it a little bit further and say, what else might I do with a board? I’m thinking about a board I worked with a while back. And one of the issues they were facing was, it was in a highly regulated industry, where community expectations were very high. And they were facing rots within their business where people were pursuing bonuses using nefarious acts, selling stuff to people they shouldn’t be selling. The sorts of stuff you might hear in a royal commission. Some of the behaviour in the organization. This board said how can we oversight that? How can we know about that? If we ask people, they lie. It’s hidden information. And yet we are going to be held accountable for that behaviour. Even asking management. They would say management, usually you’re supposed to oversee that. Management would go, how can we? People lie to us. We’re caught. So the board and management were asking, we can’t be responsible for our risk culture, the behaviour of individuals within our organization. How can we do that? Especially because they’re going to lie to us. It’s all tricky. And my response to that, of course, is yes, but that’s the expectation of the community and of your stakeholders that you will. If not you, who then? Who does this?So board coming to terms with how much it actually deal with situations where it doesn’t have access to clear, precise information? And what might I do about that? And how might it hold management accountable for that? Because to tell truth, management is being a little twee if it to say that we didn’t know that banana economy was going on down below and that people were trading awful, stealing our materials, or treating our clients badly so that they can increase their bonuses. It’s not true. Management is aware of it at times. I’m not saying management is evil, I’m saying management is oriented towards producing the outcomes the board wants and shareholders wants. So profit is king sometimes, cutting costs is king. And management at times is tolerant of particular behaviours that still achieves that outcome, but perhaps might burn other areas.So how does a board deal with that? It’s a part of my role as an org psych was to help boards look at what are some of the metrics we look for, and cross reference against other metrics, rather than just relying on the engagement score from the organization, or using 360 feedback to see whether there’s anything going on. How do we actually go below the surface and look at the shadow culture? The behaviours that people might want to talk about, but still exist in the organization? And how does a board get a bit of a finger on the pulse for that, and how do they hold management accountable for that?Renee Holder: Specifically, around coaching, sounds like there’s a lot of things you do and a lot of areas of expertise that you have. I’m wondering how you define the type of coaching that you do if someone was to ask you at a barbecue on the weekend?Robert Newman: Yeah. I am a particular type of coach. I come from a particular bend. So I’m an org psychologist coach, if we’d look at that way. So in particular, if I looked at my body of knowledge I apply to my work, I am pretty decent at psychometric. So I can measure the man and the woman, understand motives, help them understand and gain insight into what drives them, what works well, what behaviours they are talented in, what areas they’re not. Whether they have EQ and what they need to develop, if they don’t. So psychometrics, deep insight into self. Understanding of how they might change self. It’s all providing feedback, for example.The second thing that I suppose an org psych can do is focus, what does performance look like at an individual level? That’s that first part of perhaps, but what’s it look like collectively and how do you create systems to drive that? Not just the leadership behavior you might do as an individual, but how might you create some of the monitoring systems or the work processes or the organized and structural elements, the sub-teams to ensure that people are on track. How do you lead without having to be in the room? Using systems, processes, those sorts of things. So how performance comes through not just individual behavior, but also the systems that support them? I suppose that’s my second area.And my third area is, what does collective behavior look like? And how do you take responsibility for that? It’s quite common. I recall the CEO telling me, how can I be responsible for 5,000 people’s sense of satisfaction in their work? How can I be held responsible for that? I don’t know any of these people. I don’t speak with them. How can I be responsible for that? And of course, I turned around and said, “Well, you are. By saying what you just said, that doesn’t negate the fact that you will be held responsible for it. So you better figure out some ways.” So all this lead of thought was that as a leader, all I do is tell people what to do. And the words that came out of their mouth was the only response ability that they had. And of course, they’re responsible for all the business systems, processes, the way they organize their policies, the way the organization lead itself, not just through their individual behavior. So the CEO needed to know that. I’ve forgotten the question.Renee Holder: I think we’re getting a sense of how you define your style of or your approach.Robert Newman: Very good. I think the last part of my approach is perhaps what I’m not. That would be, I’m not a mentor, per se. I’m not a mentor. I’m not an ex-CEO. I’m org psych. I’m not an ops manager. I don’t give advice in areas where perhaps your business may improve. I’m not there to generate initiatives with you, unless they relate to culture, leadership and behaviour. So I come from a particular bend, and that’s org psychology and how human beings interact with systems to produce outcomes which are beneficial to the organization and society, and individual change in group change within there. So I come with a very particular bend. I’m not a counseling psychologist, so I’m not an org psych who happen to be a counselor. So I don’t tend to sit there and help people commiserate through their problems very much. I’m a little bit more technical than that.Which kind of means my coaching and guidance often is time limited to individuals gaining insight about themselves. Time limited and often focused. So I may work with a client, an executive, a director around a very particular role. For example, I might coach a chair who’s having difficulty managing their board or their relationship with the CEO. I might do some psychometrics around but I’ll also be focusing particularly on that. I’m not the jack of all trades coach where someone will come and ask, can you tell me this? Can you do that? Generally, I’m not. I mean, I can do that. But that’s not my best talent. I tend to focus more on the org psych element.But as you probably have heard in some of my conversation, the org psych element bleeds into almost every part of the business, so I probably have something to say on most things. But I don’t have the last word on most things. I have the human interaction with system and productivity word. There’s a whole lot of other elements, IT, law, legal, finance that I have very little say on, generally.Renee Holder: So you’ve touched on a lot of areas that inform the way that you work and we get assigned to get a sense of them now. There are so many fields, knowledge basis and pieces of research that you would need to assimilate to be able to apply in a practical way. And I appreciate this as a very big question. And I don’t want you to give away all of your methodology. But how do you actually assimilate all of that information and all those bodies of knowledge to be able to work with someone practically?Robert Newman: Very good. Well, there is no methodology to give away. That’s fine. At the heart of it, and I think a lot of coaches and consultants would respond directly to this themselves, it’s the idea that every problem is unique. So there’s a customizability, which has the upside of I have a unique talent of being able to bring information together. And if you’re go to doing that, then you do well with customization. Has the downside that I can actually replicate most of my interventions because they’re also unique. So someone says, what do you do generally here? And I go, lots of different things. Depends on the circumstance.So if you think about you go to a doctor, normally they will give you, and of course, psychology from a medical model version, at least or partially, they’ll ask a bundle of questions based symptoms. You’ll say, my knee hurts. They don’t give you the knee hurting intervention. They’ll say, does it hurt like this? Does it hurt like that? When does it hurt? How does it hurt? Does this hurt? And through those diagnostic of symptoms and consequences, they’ll say, okay, this is the form of intervention you need. You don’t need medication, you need to go see the physio. So I’ll then do that.And the question then becomes, sometimes at the end of the diagnostic process, I might go, your problem, as best I can define it, has elements of leadership associated with it or whatever else is my body of knowledge. But I can also see it has heavy requirements around other technical functions such as I can see, there’s actually some marketing and communications weaknesses here. And that’s not my body of knowledge. I can hint at it from a human point of view and what information people need generally, but there are specialists in that area. So all end up being offering an intervention that helps and often kickstart perhaps where people are at. And then I’ll have to … Me or my client will often bring in other specialists, which again, is part of my time limited role in interventions.The different bodies of knowledge you draw upon. I have, as most professionals do, I have professional development requirements every year. I think monitor about 100 hours. There are months when I’ve done that 100 hours within the first week, in terms of professional development, research, self-education, sourcing models, sourcing theory, reading articles. Essentially, I don’t do it willy-nilly, I don’t enjoy reading academic articles, except if there’s a problem at hand. So when I’m doing my diagnosis, I’ll just be drawing upon the literature all the time in the diagnostic phase, and then it helps me shape up the nature of the problem. And which helps me then to shape up the nature of my interventions.Renee Holder: Lots and lots of commitment to professional development there.Robert Newman: The funny thing is, I don’t ever write it up. So sometimes you have to write it up for official PD points. The proof is a bit of pain. Actually, I think I said that wrong. I said 100 hours in a week. I wouldn’t do 100 hours in a week. That is crazy. I’ll do it in a month. I’ll do a year’s PD in a month.Renee Holder: And I’ve read in preparation for our conversation today that your primary goal is really about creating alignment synergy between people and organizational systems. And the purpose of that is really about high performance emerging and being sustained. So, from your perspective, what or maybe it’s more of a who, who is responsible for enabling this alignment and synergy to happen?Robert Newman: Okay. The easiest answer here, so it’s not me. I’m a guide and a support. It’s probably not the coach, the consultant or anyone like that. We have bodies of knowledge which can help in that. It’s probably the executive. If I look at who creates the business systems, the business model, the machine that produces an outcome from a company point of view, and who oversights that and who tinkers with that to make sure it’s efficient, it’s an executive team. It’s the CEO and their colleagues in the C-suite. They’re responsible for it. And in fact, most my work with boards will be to make sure that they hold the management team, the executive team responsible for that.But if I was to dig down and say what does that mean? The alignment between human beings and the output that they produce to ensure that that system is sustainable, it actually means human beings don’t want to be cogs in a wheel, as we all know, human beings, essentially, their hearts seek meaning in life. And they seek a sense of contribution to a greater whole, something larger than themselves. So when I think about how do we create that kind of alignment between human beings and the work that they do and the outcomes that produce value for the community around us, I think about the how do we lead and create companies that create meaning for its workers, and create a sense of contribution to a greater whole.We know when this is in place, that workers will basically do it as a volunteer job, pay will be somewhat irrelevant to them. And it should be. Because in the end, this is expressing who they are and who they want to be. It gives them great heart. So work actually becomes a calling rather than a tedious act you have to do to pay for the rent so you can buy beer at the end of the day. So I’m looking at how do you create that? And I suppose on from a governance point of view, one of my key roles in recent years has been reminding directors that our stakeholders and shareholders don’t expect us to grind out cogs into the ground in terms of the people that we have. They’re not just grist for the mill.There’s an expectation that we’re all part of a system and that system must be wholesome. And to be sustainable, human beings must be able to live with it and thrive within it. And that’s the ultimate sustainability. It’s about, does this do well for human beings? And if it does and produces the outputs it needs, then that’s the ultimate sustainability.Renee Holder: And although I’d love to end our conversation on purpose and meaning and contribution, thriving and all of those things you mentioned, I am also interested in asking your question about tools and psychometrics. Because I’m aware that you also hold directorship roles with an international supplier of clinical assessment tools, and another with a psychometric testing firm. So I and our listeners would be keen to hear as well, how you see assessment tools and psychometrics complementing coaching in the future.Robert Newman: Okay. To answer that question, I might break down what psychometric tools are, just from a psychologist point of view. Perhaps less the clinical psychologist, more the org psychologist point of view. Essentially, if I think about human beings and how we measure them using psychometrics, I think about three areas of measurement, just broadly and then break down into lots of sub-components specifically, broadly. First area is abilities. What you can do. So IQ, intelligence is an ability. EQ is an ability. Hand-eye coordination is an ability. So what are the capacities that the human has? And normally these are typically associated with some hardwired elements. IQ has an element which is hardwired, you’re kind of born with it. I mean, you can increase your knowledge. But in terms of your processing speed with that knowledge, it tends to be hardwired into you.So, abilities, what a human being can do. And some people can be … Tiger Woods is a golfer of some kind, because hand-eye coordination is too poor. These are abilities. The second area that we can measure is what we might call personality/values. And this is the error of all the personality tools, derailers, value tools, DISC models, MBTIs, and they speak very much to categorizing human behaviours and the habitual behaviours that individuals have. What is this set of tools really good at predicting? This set of tools is really good at predicting how people will interact with others, how that will lead, how they will deal with difficult circumstances. But predominantly, it’s a social interaction, a set of tools that tell us how we will move with others. So that’s the second group. The first one is abilities. The second one has to do with some sort of personality/values.So the third set of psychometrics has much more to do with behaviours and competencies. So these are, what is a person going to do and how might they apply themselves to the task at hand? There’s elements of personality that kind of indicate that the personality and values tend to be motivators or contextual elements on how a person delivers their competencies in their role. We’re not just talking about jobs here, it can be competencies to be a kind father, or to be a good teacher, or to be a caring partner. So the competencies are a full range on thinking there. So its knowledge skills and the behaviours that deliver upon them. So those are kind of three areas that we would measure.Most psychologists and most practitioners in general tend to like the tools that they’re familiar with, which and I’m no different from anyone else. But on average in my work and coaching or in providing groups insight into their dynamics, I tend to choose the tool that suits the purpose. So for example, if it comes to personality I’m using with a group, while I don’t particularly like the Myers-Briggs typology model, it’s been around a long time and some groups, and some leaders are highly affiliated with it and like and love it. So they might ask me to run a group development activity or to look at perhaps ground rules again. And if they asked me to use a personality and they say, which one are you familiar with? And I say, Myers-Briggs. I grit my teeth and go, no worries, I can use this.Because essentially psychometrics in the way you use it in coaching is primarily an insight provision tool. So its aim is to gain traction in terms of a person’s self-understanding himself or they group. So in some respects, it doesn’t matter what tool you use, as long as the tool gets some penetration. And the primary criteria I’d use for a tool is its accessibility by the audience. As a psychologist, I can make most of these tools get me enough penetration, even there’s some that I wouldn’t necessarily touch with barge pole. I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole because it’s quite difficult to use. They don’t work very well. But most tools that we know in the familiar parlance, they’re actually quite usable. Some are better than others, but the one that’s acceptable to my audience will be the one that would use.I think about the tools that I use most at the governance level. In particular, we can assume that from the ability point of view, these are all smart people. Can’t always assume our EQ but we can assume smart. From a competency point of view, these are people who’ve hit the top of their game as CEOs, CFOs, whatever it is, so they know how to do that. We can’t assume they’re good at necessary leading or bringing people together or collaborating, but can assume a lot of the other ones. And in fact, my primary form of intervention is to increase insight of the director themselves or of the group about their own internal dynamics, what goes on behind the scenes.So if I look at the three sets of types of tool sets I’ve used, I’d focus more heavily on personality. So I might use something like a Hogan Personality Inventory or OPQ personality inventory. My preference is Hogan. And I might use a dialer tool to look at some of the more difficult behaviours that we sometimes see in leadership groups. And I use the Hogan development survey in that regard. But again, there are other tools to use. So I would use perhaps that second crop of tools, the personality and value ones. And why is that? Because essentially, from a board point of view, the primary method of them producing anything is through interactive discussions with colleagues. So that’s how they produce decisions.If we look at what shapes effective discussions with colleagues, IQ does, but I’ve taken it for granted. Mostly it’s about personality, and how they use that to influence. And so personality is a dominant tool I might use in that regard. But my primary, I see the tools as a tool. I don’t see them as reality. I don’t see some of the pigeonholing we might use with tools as perhaps the main outcome. I’m actually seeing deeper insight by the individuals and the group about their colleagues as the primary outcome I’m aiming for. And if I get a little bit of that, and they’re actually starting to see some of their own, yes, when we do that, we all tend to go like this. I can see that in our discussions ongoing, that’s what I wanted the tool for.Renee Holder: Wonderful. Thank you, Rob. We’re coming to the end of our conversation today or come to the end of the conversation. It’s just been really, really valuable for me and I probably speak for all of our listeners in terms of just hearing from your experience and sharing your insights, and a few stories and also to some suggestions there on a range of topics. We’ve touched on everything from dynamics in the boardroom to psychometrics, the application of org psych in coaching and a whole range of things. So, thank you. Thank you so much for joining us for IECL CoachCast today, and we look forward to a chat sometime again in the future.Robert Newman: Thanks for having me.
34 minutes | 5 months ago
Sports, Leadership and Coaching
Guest Bio Andy Johnson Andy’s coaching practice began during his time in the early 2000’s. As a professional rugby player before moving into a physical education officer role with London Fire Brigade, he brings an interesting background instead of experiences. This provided Andy with early experience to coach executives, senior leaders, managers, athletes and team members in organisations both in the UK and Australia across industries including financial services, resources, infrastructure, marketing, legal, non-for-profit, professional sports, local government and health sectors.Andy is the Director of Total Focus where he works with athletes and sporting organisations to understand the relationship between mindset and results in order to increase consistency and performance.Andy has previously worked on the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and spent over five years in learning and capability consulting roles with Suncorp Group. SHOW NOTESIf you look at the executives, there’s lot of talk around longevity, when you get to the top of the pyramid or to the top of the ladder, there’s virtually no support for them. What education or what support could be put into play to appreciate what they go through so that they can maintain that level of performance and they can recharge. I don’t think you’re ever going to have two CEOs and you might sub one out. But I think there are some pieces that could be put into play. Within the organizational world and the corporate world, one big piece I intend to celebrate is the successes. And I’ve seen teams that I’ve worked with and individuals, they do spend time to celebrate and actually learn. And that’s something that I haven’t observed greatly in organizations. You get to the end of the financial year and you go out for one night and then you’re back in the following day and new targets are set. Transcript Renee Holder: From your past, what do you see are the parallels between organizational and sports coaching with having a foot in each of those camps?Andy Johnson: I think probably more so in current time, the focus on bringing a coaching approach. So, and what I mean in terms of what we would call a coaching approach, and the ability to ask questions. It’s moved away from sort of, I suppose coaches having more of a let’s go with an aggressive approach and doing far more telling. It’s moved from my observation and my involvement to far more of a questioning and more of having that growth mindset piece is definitely becoming more and more favourable.Renee Holder: And how have you benefited from that varied experience, in this particular, how do you see it’s benefited you and your coaching practice?Andy Johnson: I think, if I look at me and as an individual, my coaching practice, when you play sport at that level and you’re around sport, it’s highly reflective. There’s a lot of feedback and there’s a lot of practice. You spend a huge amount of time training and refining certain aspects of how you play. Excuse me. And I think and if I look at my coaching practice over the years, it’s been continually honing those skills, developing those skills, prep, practicing it, taking on board feedback and being quite comfortable to not get it right every time, if that makes sense. Because things don’t always go well when you’re playing sport and you’re working with athletes. You have a game plan. It’s like with a coaching session, you may have a intention for the session, but when the whistle’s blown and or when you asked the first question to the counterpart, you’ve got no idea what’s coming. It’s the ability to sort of coach and or play in the moment, I think.Renee Holder: That gets me a bit curious about what you think executives could learn from athletes. Can you share some insights around that?Andy Johnson: Yeah. One insight that I picked up from a prominent well-known New South Wales and Australian former rugby league player, was he, when I heard him speak and it really, In sport you train every day to perform once a week, right? Whereas in the corporate world they’re performing every day but often get no training at all. I think that the executive coaching component can form part of that training. Now it allows them to have someone outside of the environment there in to speak with, to connect with and challenge them. So it can form part of the actual training piece.Andy Johnson: Because I think just to reflect on the development and the lack of it that actually occurs with the senior executives who are in extremely high, high pressure roles is it’s quite interesting when you spend time, because they often I find the executives want to know what’s happening in the sporting world and also vice versa. I think there’s a real place for executive coaching to play probably a greater role than it does in allowing them to grow and develop all of their skills.Renee Holder: That makes me wonder too about the sustainability of it. Because athletes are expected to perform at high levels, at their peak and executives these days are also in increasingly complex environments expected to do the same. So again, how can one inform the other in terms of being able to maintain those peak levels of performance?Andy Johnson: I think there’s an appreciation for the… or there’s a lack of appreciation for the impact from a stress level on the executives that are at that level. And I remember and you mentioned the time that I spent at Suncorp, that some of the executives I worked with there opened up on the choices they put into place of how they actually unwind. There weren’t healthy choices, right? I think there’s a big place in that to look at professional athletes. How how are they supported? From physios and psychologists, strength and conditioning and all that in terms of they’re really looked after so they can perform because they’re an asset. They are entity to a certain degree.Andy Johnson: So if you look at the executive’s and there’s lots of talk around longevity, when you get to the top of the pyramid or to the top of the ladder, there’s virtually no support for them. I can’t imagine there’ll be an ice bath in the corner of an office somewhere, but what education or what support could be put in play to appreciate what they go through so that they can maintain that level of performance and they can recharge. I don’t think you’re ever going to have two CEOs and you might sub one out. But I think there are some pieces that could be put into play.Renee Holder: And what differences have you seen, you sort of talked a little bit about what age could learn from one another and some of the similarities but what do you see as being distinctly different between say the sporting field and the executive? They ran the boardroom.Andy Johnson: Physical contact is often frowned upon in the boardroom. All joking aside. I think there’s… Both are very goal-orientated. Both are whether they’re chasing the wind or the pole, they’re chasing a sale or they want to look at the figures and how they report in their figures for the investors and that sort of piece. I think there’s a link there. Did you asked if there was a link or there was differences?Renee Holder: Differences.Andy Johnson: Differences. I apologize. So there’s a link there, but I think how they connect with that is quite different. I think within the organizational world and the corporate world, one big piece of me is I intend to celebrate the successes. And I’ve seen teams that I’ve worked with and individuals, they do spend time to celebrate and actually learn. And that’s something that I haven’t observed greatly in organizations. You get to the end of the financial year and you go out for one night and then you’re back in the following day and new targets are set.Andy Johnson: I also in sport you have a coach as in you have a coach, we have a manager of that team who makes choices, makes selection. There’s a bit of a policy in play and they may often move people around and their role is to coach. They’re not on the pitch as well. They’re not involved in the game. But you’ll find that in organization there’s a team leader or there’s the executive or the CEO. They’re expected to lead and coach, but they also have a role to play. They’re kind of wearing multiple hats. And that’s potentially one difference where they could learn from each other to sort of really isolate some of those roles if they want to lift performance. How do they step back a bit and be able to actually almost see up in the stands and as they view what’s happening.Andy Johnson: The other sort of, I suppose main one popped into my head there, there’s a lot of data, a lot of, and I just said the word data and analysis over everything, but in sport it’s very much geared towards performance of individuals and teams. Whereas in the organizational and corporate sense, it’s more related to… it’s not so individually focused. So yes, I might complete my performance review in that sort of sense. But do you really spend time understanding me as an individual and what I need and allow me to individually grow and what’s my place in the team. And I think occasionally then you have… I could go on if you want to go on.Renee Holder: Yeah, please do.Andy Johnson: I think if you look at a sporting team, and I’ve worked with, well I played rugby, but I’ve worked with netball and I’ve worked with other athletes, they have those on the field captains. And we may have team leaders but we don’t, I don’t know how… There’s a, I think they could play out in possibly a stronger role or more of an influential role of how they bring that team together. How they sort of connect with each other. And some of the most successful teams that I focus on, that I’ve worked with in the sporting sense, they’re extremely well looked after in terms of everything. Everything is taken care of them in terms of financial advice, family, if they’ve moved to the area, just all those really finer details so they haven’t got to worry about those so they can really focus on field performance.Andy Johnson: And I think sometimes in the corporate world, in the executive space there’s not as strong a focus on that. You might come in and have an induction and be given a new pen, but I think there’s a lot more that could be done to welcome people into the environment, to that team, to that organization because you want them to slot in to be able to perform. If you really focused and you went down, there’s quite a lot that is quite vastly different. And there are pros and cons of them both. But there’s, I think the ball being piece and the individual piece in terms of support is something that I believe organizations and CEOs would benefit from both individually and within their own organizational space.Renee Holder: So all that considered, which one do you prefer working in?Andy Johnson: I like variety. I find it more challenging for me to work in the corporate space. I think being a coach you can, going in is fantastic because you’re there to do a purpose. You’re not involved. I don’t think I could go and work in that environment again full-time. I like being able to come in and to sort of coach people and to do my piece and then step out. I think the sporting world is a bit more honest and a bit more brutal. I think corporate… And that doesn’t mean in terms of aggression or language. They’re very much focused on having conversations and sort of taking that part out of it. But I think they’re a little bit more brutally honest because every weekend, they either win or they lose or otherwise. They get that continual recognition and they continue working on something. Sometimes in the organizational sense things can be hidden. They can be swept under the carpet. So I’m going to sit on the fence with the answer to your question there.Renee Holder: Okay. And I’m curious to know, because your professional rugby playing career, let’s face it, it was a while ago now, Andy, but I’m sure it impacts how you show up as a coach today. Could you talk to that a little bit for our listeners? Because many of our listeners are coaches and they’re looking at what sets them apart from others, their signature presence, the sorts of things that we often talk about. And I wonder how that shows up for you.Andy Johnson: I think I’m very comfortable in uncomfortable situations. When I… It was 20 years ago just to put a figure on it, put a number on it, when I was a professional. I played in environment with world champions and people that had been very successful at that point and then previously, and you’ve got to be able to hold your own. I was quite an immature 20-year-old in every sense. I had to really work hard in terms of bringing a lot of physical presence. I wasn’t the biggest kid, so I had to really work on that. And I think what I learned from that is I can… you learn to be adaptable for the different environments that you step into because I played rugby in all corners of the world in some hostile environments and some wonderful environments.Andy Johnson: And when you step into coaching, it allows you to, I think it’s allowed me to be comfortable to coach people in a variety of organizations at a variety of levels and be comfortable in who I am and how I can hold that space. But then how I can up my game if you want. I think when you break sport down, we used to break it down into sometimes you had 10 minute increments. And you talk around getting into the game, which meant catching your ball or calling the right calls or putting in a big hit. When I get into coaching, I like to make sure that I’m fully warmed up, if that makes sense. And then how do I get into it? How do I ask a couple of questions? How do I connect with the person that I’m sitting in front of? But then being aware when the session’s moving on, then you might move. I don’t take a half-time break, but when you move past a certain point, how do you ask that next challenging question.Andy Johnson: So I haven’t thought about it in that way before, but I think the main piece is that it’s allowed me to be very comfortable in some challenging environments and really hold my space because when you’re playing sport and they might be two minutes left on the clock and you’ve got to line out and I’ve got to make the right call and make the right play. It’s knowing when to ask that particular challenging question or when to step back a little bit and that sort of pace. Occasionally, I wear shorts and pull my socks up.Renee Holder: When you think back to 20 years ago and some of those coaches that you worked with back then, are there particular styles or characteristics that stick with you and potentially you see could have translated quite well into the corporate life?Andy Johnson: One of them, yes. And one of them no, but I think they came into my life exactly the right time. So when I was 17 and I was going up through the representative level, the particular coach I had at the time, and people may not know what I mean, but he was a pretty rough East London character covered in what I would call traditional tattoos. So now the tattoos are quite trendy, but I mean love, hate on the knuckles and everything else. But yeah, as a 17-year-old, 16, 17-year-old as I was then, he really set, he set a real standard of intensive how you behaved. What we called him and we had to come and say hello when we came into the game and we had to say goodbye before we left and really set a high work ethic. So I think that could translate.Andy Johnson: His choice of language and how he chose to motivate people I think was perfect for me at that age. But probably that wouldn’t work in the corporate space. But without him, I wouldn’t have got the professional contract that I got. A couple of years later down the line when I moved to a different club, the coach there had a completely different approach. I never heard the guy swear in four years. There’s a real team ethos. We all got invited to his house for Sunday lunch at some point. He invited us into his family and every… And then I remember this pretty vividly, but every single pre-match he had motivational speech if you like. He never mentioned rugby in any of them in four years. He would connect with other sports or something that was happening in the media that related to performance or how you challenge yourself.Andy Johnson: So really challenged their thinking to you to look at what we were doing from a different sort of different area. And he was far more conversational. Looking back now, he had a firm ball of a coaching approach as we would call it, to how he coached us as rugby players. He has had a very successful career in the corporate sense, I’m sorry, in the corporate space. So, but yeah, they both came into my life at exactly the right time.Renee Holder: And I’m sure there’s a few clients and counterparts you’ve worked with. You said that you came into their life at just the right time. What was it that drew you to coaching?Andy Johnson: When I was working in the London Fire Brigade, I think by accident, so I wasn’t operational, right. I was the first non-operational trainer they ever employed. But by accident because I wore the same uniform, so I wore the badge. And part of the team that I worked in worked with firefighters that were deemed unfit for duty, so they’d fell their medical. And they would rather come and speak to us in the team that I was in than go and speak to the people in the white coats. I just found it quite natural to sit and talk to people. And I was the youngest person in my team by 14 years. I was having one-on-one conversations with guys that were, they were my dad’s age. And they seem to connect with me and they seem to open up and really share a lot of personal stuff and I found it natural and I enjoyed it.Andy Johnson: When I moved to Australia and I worked in a few other smaller organizations, it was something that I found quite natural. I also, before I moved here, I had a speech impediment throughout my entire life and it came back quite aggressively when I was in my early 20s to the point where I couldn’t actually, I wasn’t confident enough to order a train ticket. I had some really bizarre experiences in some train stations in London where I couldn’t get two words out. But my job at the time involved public speaking. I worked with a hymn therapist. I thought he was going to do the whole look at the watch thing, but he just literally spoke to me and just made me close my eyes and go into a meditative state and sort of connect with it.Andy Johnson: And my speech impediments still comes back if I’m tired or there’s certain words that I struggled to get at times, but it’s never been an issue for 15 odd years. And I looked to that and I thought how powerful that was. Just I only had two sessions with him because he was very expensive. But I’ve found when I looked at what he was doing and I looked at what I was doing when I was working with these firefighters, I kind of thought that’s what I want to do. But I didn’t know what that was. So that’s, through a housemate when I first came here, I got invited to one of our showcase events, which is when I met Chip and the team and did the finger and thumb thing for the first time. And then I just kind of pursued it from there and I made it part of my role at Suncorp before I did my level one, two and three pretty quickly so.Renee Holder: So some of our listeners won’t know what the finger and thumb thing is. Without giving too much away, could you talk about the, I suppose the essence of that activity?Andy Johnson: The essence behind it is quite often we know how to do something so we actually know how to do it. So for sticking your thumb in the air, we know how to do that, but then actually doing it sometimes so it’s that knowing-doing gap. So knowing how to ask questions, right? We all ask questions. We will ask questions the entire time. But when you come into coaching, it’s being able to ask open questions and really powerful questions. It’s that gap between knowing something and then actually doing it to that next level. So that’s where the finger and thumb thing is without giving too much away.Renee Holder: You better leave a bit of mystery there. Now a really generic open question and take this wherever you like. Where do you see coaching going? And you could answer this in the context of sort of general organizational coaching, the work you’re doing now and where you see that going or maybe that connection again between sport and corporate.Andy Johnson: Okay. One sentence I see coaching going in the space of really informing leaders. So it being a capability that is now that becomes part of leader profiles is quite a common term. So how does a leader bring a coaching approach to how they lead. But excuse me, but I also see… I don’t imagine it’s too far away that it becomes regulated. I think it’s becoming an increased understanding of the variety of governing bodies that are out there, if that’s the correct term. So the ICF and the ACC?Renee Holder: ICAMCCAndy Johnson: And all those. Because I’m already becoming, I’m already noticing that I’m meeting people that have been coaches but haven’t got any qualifications because people are asking to see their qualifications. It will become more regulated because I think there’s an increased understanding of what it is and the benefits of it. So my view of the future is that people will become more comfortable saying they have a coach and I think there’ll be a stronger influence of coaches in organizations potentially on I think not on a being employed internally, but maybe you’re having longer contracts and working and really having a partnership. That’s where I would see it going in that sort of corporate space, if you like.Andy Johnson: I think in the sporting sense, what I’m seeing and what I think I continue to see is what we call a coaching approach to sports coaching. So far more conversational, far more of asking questions especially when you, I think if you living in Brisbane now and having a family that are well connected to the Brisbane Broncos and that sort of piece, there’s a lot of talk around their coach Anthony Seibold. And if you watch any of the games and they have a camera in the changing room at half time, he came under some criticism because he splits the actual squad if you like, into little groups and they have a conversation around what’s working, what’s not working.Andy Johnson: And it’s really putting the really empowering athletes because as a coach you can’t jump on the field and do it for them. So I think there’s that coaching approach and understanding the benefits of player and athlete development from a mindset point of view. I think there’s quite a big little piece there that will play out. I also think coaching will become more available at a lower level. I think in some organizations it tends to be once you get to a certain level and above. But I think they’re starting to understand the benefits for yeah, the people they are happy and they are comfortable and they like working as a team member. But they also benefit from having some coaching. There’s quite a large opportunity there.Renee Holder: So as a final question, we’re coming towards the end of our conversation today. Could you share the sort of work you’re enjoying most at the moment? What are you doing that you’re really passionate about?Andy Johnson: In both spaces? Okay. With us at IECL and GrowthOps, I like the variety in my role, which confuses people because I have a long job title, but no one really knows what it means and we tend to change it occasionally. I enjoy meeting people that have no experience of coaching and they want to understand what it is to benefit them from having coaching but also from them as a leader or as a manager or as an employee. I think it’s… I enjoy when you get a surprise, so you have someone comes back in when they’re doing one of the public programs or the corporate program and they share with you the impact making one or two changes has had on their home life because you’re dealing with humans as a whole. So they’ll be focused on how they are at work. It affects how they are outside of work.Andy Johnson: I enjoy hearing those sorts of stories and knowing that you’re making a bit of a difference. In Brisbane and the Queensland market and I’ve had the pleasure over the past year of going to some different places, couple of names of the towns that I’ve been to, areas I can’t really, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing them correctly, but you’re working with leaders in industry that have had nothing. They’ve never really experienced. No one’s ever sat them down and had a conversation about them or given them the opportunity in a 60-minute coaching session to really talk. And it’s quite fascinating. I would love if we were allowed and here’s my wish for you, if we could put a video camera on the doors of some of our training rooms to capture how people arrive because their faces are often quite frowned and then try and see, watch how they leave. And it’s that little difference that I enjoy whether it’s in a one-on-one or whether it’s in an entertainment environment.Andy Johnson: I also, from a sporting sense, I enjoy being able to work with a variety of athletes who are at different phases of their career and taking that same approach. Because it’s starting to increase their self-awareness and asking questions of them and how does it impact their performance and getting the opportunity to work at a bit of a higher level. And I think there’s a… you’ve got to really have the trust there because my experiences is that there’s a level of uncertainty that in terms of what are you doing and what’s the impact and what does that take away and what does that add? So it’s just, it’s working with, I think this is when I sound old now, when the younger generation that’s coming through. I think their needs are vastly different in both areas.Andy Johnson: It’s being able to connect with them and then educate other people around how do you lift performance, how do you maintain performance, how do you ask questions that really opened people up and sort of challenge their thinking. And I’ve never touched wood, finished a coaching session or any program that I’ve been involved with. No one’s ever told me they haven’t liked it. Some people they don’t always connect with you as an individual, but no one said they don’t like you or didn’t get anything from it. When you can work with those people and you’re allowing people to grow and you’re challenging their thinking, that’s the work that I liked doing. I like doing variety of things. So, yeah.Renee Holder: And we like you doing a variety of things too, Andy. So thank you. It’s been a really interesting conversation today and I’m sure our listeners have enjoyed hearing your insights around those parallels and some of the distinctions between the sporting world and the corporate world. A little bit about your long ago professional career and I think some learnings in there for coaches, but also for leaders too. Yeah. So thank you. Really, really fascinating conversation and great to hear some of the work you’re doing and the things you’re passionate about. So thank you, Andy. We’ll put it out there.Andy Johnson: Pleasure. Thank you.
44 minutes | 7 months ago
Guest Bio David DrakeDavid has worked on narrative coaching, change and leadership initiatives for 70 organizations, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Google, Nike, PwC, Westpac and the Australia and US federal governments. Clients appreciate his systemic and innovative approaches. He is the founder of the field of narrative coaching and the creator of the Narrative Coaching Labs for practitioners and Narrative Design Labs in organizations. David has trained over 10,000 people in 14 countries in his methods. He has started a global community of licensed Narrative Design Partners to bring this work to the world in new ways. David is also the architect of integrative development, which brings together adult development and organization development in a unified theory of change. Narrative coaching is an integrative practice that can scale to any size. David is the author of 40 publications on narratives and coaching and editor of The Philosophy and Practice of Coaching (2008, Jossey-Bass). His new book is Narrative Coaching: Bringing New Stories to Life (CNC Press, 2015), and his next book is as co-editor of SAGE Handbook of Coaching (Sage, 2016). Guest Host Jill LiveseyJill has worked as an Executive Coach since 2006 in the areas of banking, financial services, pharmaceutical, professional services, and the public service. In career coaching, Jill has worked with people at all levels across all industries who are looking to re-align their role, gain a promotion, or take an entirely different career path. Jill held organisational leadership roles for 17 years in London, New York and Sydney. Jill draws on this experience of managing large teams, often remotely located, for working with others to quickly sift through the mass of complex information to get to what matters and what can make the difference. Jill’s experience of managing constant change and motivating teams while providing extremely high levels of client service and delivering major and complex projects gives her useful insight for coaching managers and leaders in today’s turbulent business environment. Her personal experience of transitioning into roles within companies and countries and returning from parental leave also informs her coaching. Jill’s passion for strategic career management – having the right people in the right roles for the right time – has seen her working with many clients looking to assess their career to date and identify steps and skills to work towards their future path, benefitting the individual and the organisation. SHOW NOTES What are the narratives of the culture? What are the narratives of the different genders, cultures, ranks within the company, and how are they aligned or not aligned? How are they really supporting diversity and inclusion or not? How are they responding to the emerging narratives around them, in their society, in their market. And more broadly even the planet.In organizations, people have a thousand moving parts, moving a thousand kilometers an hour, with a thousand different deliverables and variables. And so what we find is that over and over again, most of our, particularly more seasoned clients, don’t really need any more training. So we’ve actually as a business by and large stopped training because we don’t find it very effective. And we even find coaching sometimes too slow and too cumbersome. And so what we’ve found more and more is that most of our clients know the right thing to be doing. They know the best practice, they just don’t for a lot of reasons. So really our focus right now in helping clients move to a more optimal state, state of mind, state of being sort of presence from which they can then make new choices. Transcript Jill Livesey: And perhaps start by asking you to explain what is narrative coaching?Dave Drake:So narrative coaching is experiential and mindful process by which we listen to people’s stories and help them to understand both the what’s happening in their stories, but also to recognize that there’s part of them that’s bringing their resolution to what they’re seeking into the stories themselves. And so we find that in our society we tend to rush and try to get somewhere in a coaching conversation. And what we find is that when we slow down and use silence and presence, we actually start to notice many more layers of stories that are originally visible to help our clients really understand and hear themselves saying what’s really true and important for them. And then harvesting that in a way to help them translate that into action.Jill Livesey: So hence the idea of you have everything you need before you.Dave Drake:Right, so everything you need is right in front of you, is our sort of cardinal rule. Everyone we teach over and over again.Jill Livesey:And how do you see that being used to good effect in organizations?Dave Drake: So in organizations, people have a thousand moving parts, moving a thousand kilometers an hour, with a thousand different deliverables and variables. And so what we find is that over and over again, most of our, particularly more seasoned clients, don’t really need any more training. So we’ve actually as a business by and large stopped training because we don’t find it very effective. And we even find coaching sometimes too slow and too cumbersome. And so what we’ve found more and more is that most of our clients know the right thing to be doing. They know the best practice, they just don’t for a lot of reasons. So really our focus right now in helping clients move to a more optimal state, state of mind, state of being sort of presence from which they can then make new choices.Dave Drake:And so one of the things that I’m most known for is my lack of interest in goal setting, particularly at the beginning of a conversation because most of our clients have no idea what they really want. And so we really want to equip them more with what we call structures for success, which are in the moment, how do we help them make a new choice, again and again and again wherever they are in their day. And over time that sort of accumulates into a new habit, a new story and a new way of being in the world.Jill Livesey:So in a sense that’s more like them carrying their coach within them.Dave Drake:Correct.Jill Livesey: And if there was a… We have seem to have chief officers for most things this these days. If there was a chief narrative officer, what sorts of things would we see them doing or being concerned about or making happen?Dave Drake:So I think one of the things that, again, as you said in the introduction, for me, I’ve never, this is kind of a double negative, but I’ve never not been able to see things systemically. And I think one of the limitations of coaching is we over-focus on the individual and the individual psychology, which is important. And what we know more and more is that most of what drives behavior is not necessarily about the individual, but about the epigenetics of how they got there. The environment in which they’re working, their social and collective narratives in which they’re operating. And so we find that, to borrow a famous sort of quote that we often end up sending change to people back into unchanged environments. And we know which one wins that battle. It’s not the person. And so we’ve found more and more of that, we want to think about narratives more broadly.Dave Drake:So if I was a chief narrative officer, I’d be really sort of curious about what are the narratives of the culture? What are the narratives of the different genders, cultures, ranks within the company, and how are they aligned or not aligned? How are they really supporting diversity and inclusion or not? How are they responding to the emerging narratives around them, in their society, in their market. And more broadly even the planet.Dave Drake:And so I find one of the things that coaches sometimes don’t want to look at is we depend on discretionary income for our practice. And discretionary income usually comes from people have discretionary income. And so oftentimes we end up helping people to cope in systems which are not healthy. And instead of looking at how do we use what we know about change to create better ways of working and better ways of relating and better ways of being in community with each other and with the planet. And so I, and this is kind of a long answer to your question, but if I was a chief narrative officer, I would think about the longer term social impact of the stories that our people in companies or our organizations are telling. And are those going to be ones that our grandchildren would be proud of?Jill Livesey:Which is a lovely focus. And I’m sure a lot of coaches that will really resonate with them. The idea that, the sense of fruitlessness when you’re coaching a person within a system and you feel like that system won’t necessarily support them. I love the idea of the narratives of the organization as a whole. And I’ve heard you say also that the more coaches work on themselves, the less hard they have to work in sessions when they are coaching individuals. Can you tell us a bit more about that?Dave Drake: Yeah, so I’m part of a just came sort of humbly through looking at my own practice over the years and I’ve been coaching for over 20 years. And I think about where I was developmentally at that stage of my life in the beginning, miss back before we had coaching textbooks or coaching programs. And so we were all kind of making it up in a way. And I realized that I was working really hard with good intent for my clients, but it was exhausting. And as time has gone on, I can now coach for an entire day and it doesn’t really tire me at all. Because I no longer feel like I have to make something happen in the sessions. But rather I’m just there as a witness and a sort of a conduit for what the client is trying to achieve. And so for me, I want to help coaches to be able to work on themselves for a couple of reasons.Dave Drake:One is our clients can’t travel any farther than we’ve gone ourself. And so if we want to really hold space for the challenging conversations, a lot of our clients need to have and want to have, then we’ve got to be able to do that for them, whether it’s around grief or fear or uncertainty or lack of knowledge, like how do I actually lead in this kind of world we live in now? And so again, it’s not about more techniques or more tools. We don’t need any more of those. We could probably survive the rest of time with the stuff we have now. It doesn’t matter. Our clients don’t care and they don’t care about what things are called or whose methodologies in this year and who’s not. They just want to get some help as a human being to do the best they can with whatever they’re being asked to do. And so that requires a mature coach, not necessarily by age, but by sort of emotional, psychological and even spiritual maturity to be able to serve our clients in some very different ways.Jill Livesey:And actually it can be exhausting. Even thinking about all those tools and methodologies that you feel like you ought to keep up with rather than deepen with what you already have perhaps. Your coaching with without goals. I’ve watched your webinar, which was great. And that piece around how, if we’re that hard in the session, not only might we be adding to the to do list, but we’re actually jumping on the wheel with them. That I shuttered as I read that. Because I certainly recognize moments over time when when I’ve done exactly that. And yeah, not always helpful.Dave Drake: No.Jill Livesey: And you also talk about how you don’t teach anything that you haven’t applied to yourself and you just refer to that a little bit there. And I know you’ve experienced some really significant threshold moments in your life. What’s one of the biggest learnings for you that you’ve got out of that work applied to yourself?Dave Drake:So one of the ones for me is that when you go through difficult things, it’s easy to lose perspective about yourself, about time, about reality. And so I think one of the things that came out of one of those periods of my life was a lot more compassion. And so the fundamental starting point in working with our clients is we are talking one human being to another human being. And we don’t know what they’ve been going through. We don’t know what’s been really happening for them. And so for me, I find that even though I’ve never had a huge ego, it’s become more subtle now. Because you start to realize that in the end we’re all doing the best we can. And so I find that now I end up with a more open and receptive stance on reality. I no longer, do we need to stop?Jill Livesey: No. Dave Drake:I wasn’t sure what all that was meaning. So, I think so often coaching gets caught up in trying to create an ideal world or an ideal scenario and how things should be. And we have all these fantasies through our models and things about creating all of these ideal states. And in reality that’s just, I think creates more pressure for everybody. And so what I find is that we in narrative coaching, because we focus so much on ourselves as humans and our clients as humans, we end up with this really interesting paradox where our conversations feel more ordinary and yet they often end up being more profound.Dave Drake: They feel much slower, but they actually take less time. So when I do demonstrations now, they’re generally 78 minutes. Because we don’t need more. Most of our coaches spend far too much time gathering, far too much information, most of which is never going to be useful. And this adds to the confusion of what’s going on. And so for me, through my difficult periods of my own life, I’ve just really come to be convinced that what we’re really after is what is the crux of this person’s issue? What’s really happening for them, what’s really important to them? And helping them put that into perspective and find a way to go make that happen.Jill Livesey: And you mentioned a demo I saw somewhere online where people can go and watch you do that.Dave Drake: There will be soon. So where we building our entire website as we speak and one of the things we’re going to have on there is a series of demos that we’ve done over the years. It’s just these technology things take longer than you think.Jill Livesey: They do, don’t they?Dave Drake: So, but that, by the, probably by December, these will be up on our site and a chance to see what that looks like.Jill Livesey: Wonderful. And we’ll add to our show notes that we’ll have for the podcast. We’ll add to that as we’ll keep them up to date with short evolves there. Now you mentioned grief and I wondered is there any situation where narrative coaching doesn’t help? I think about grief, I think the old stories, you had someone that knew stories you don’t.Dave Drake: Yes.Jill Livesey: Are there any situations where narrative doesn’t work, would you say?Dave Drake:No.Jill Livesey:I thought you might. And so can you explain a little bit? I know it’s a huge topic in a short time. It keeps playing a little about how it might help in the situation of grief as in loss of a person grief.Dave Drake: I will say that there are some people, some clients have a harder time accessing narrative coaching if they’re not reflective at all. They’re not used to introspection, they’re not interested in anything that isn’t in the outer world kind of piece. But we find less and less of those because people are realizing there’s actually a lot going on inside themselves, they need to pay attention to. So in terms of grief, so we’re actually putting together a symposium next year on attachment theory, grief and trauma. And kind of the ways in which those intersect for a lot of people. And so one of the things that we’re trying to do in what we do in the narrative coaching model is in the first phase of our model is called situate. And it’s really just about helping the client to situate themselves in the conversation, in this moment with their coach and in their own story.Dave Drake: And so we’re just helping them to be here now. That’s it. We’re not trying to figure out why they’re there or where they want to go and just helping them to be here and sort of drop into a state where they actually can do something meaningful in coaching. And in grief that often shows up as the sense of loss. And so we just meet them in that sense of loss. And what we find is that, and you know Elizabeth Kubler Ross is the most well known resource on death and dying, etc. Most of her work has been completely misunderstood over the years. And sort of bastardized as these things happen when we bring them into the marketplace. But in our work, we’re trying to help people to just understand what the loss of a story feels like, means to them, what sense they’re making of that, and then put that in the broader context of their life.Dave Drake:And so in that we’re going to start to discover where is grieving going well for them or something they’re managing well and where’s grief proving hard. And so that’s where we then drop into search to understand what does this person, it’s the one of our core operating question, what does this person need next right now? And that’s all we’re asking. We don’t answer it and where they’re going. We answer right now what do they need to continue their journey. And so it may be talking about the lost person and may be being angry at the lost person, and may be their own issues for themselves that are emerging now. And so we’re just trying to figure out, and our model has a sort of a spiral in it. So we’re sort of gaging how large that spiral needs to be at this point in time given where the client’s at.Dave Drake:And so we can do this because we’re not actually coaching them through a methodology. The methodology that we use is really a change process that mirrors how humans naturally change. So then we can look at where are they in that process, what are they going to need next? And so if someone’s just starting in that grief journey, that spiral of through all four phases of the change process may be quite small because they’re just trying to get their whole head and heart around what just happened. And then as they began to have more ability to work with the what’s happening, they can sort of expand out that spiral to kind of look at what’s to be learned here, what’s to be done here. And so we’re just tracing them and following them on that journey and seeing where we could add some value to them.Jill Livesey:Okay, lovely. There’s some, it’s kind of elegant simplicity in terms of being with them where they’re at and working out what next from there when something can seem so enormous.Dave Drake: It is the most common piece of feedback we get from particularly from experienced coaches that they really can seriously declutter their practice. And I remember years ago, I had a very, a dear friend and a very experienced coach in the UK. And one of our one day programs and it was all experiential. We weren’t teaching anything really. We were, but not through talking, and she was starting in on one of our activities for the mid day and she had just happened to walk by me as I was staying there as they started.Dave Drake: And she said, “It can’t be this simple.” I said, I just shrug my shoulders and said, “Well, let’s see.” And she came by like 20 minutes later she goes, “Damn it is that simple.”Jill Livesey: Fantastic.Dave Drake:And I said, “Yes.” It it takes a lot of development for yourself to make it simple. It doesn’t come easily, but the more you, and the more you develop yourself and your own buddy to use what we call radical presence, then the simpler things become. And you realize that all this stuff that you may have learned, some of it will be helpful. And most of it not, it’s not necessary.Jill Livesey:And a lot of it I imagine will have helped you to get to where you are today in order to have that radical presence. You get into it.Dave Drake:Right. Otherwise, I mean if you had… We’re doing some repairs and maybe a repainting of your house, you wouldn’t leave the scaffolding above till the job was done. You’d take it down because it’s ready to go. So I think sometimes coaches depend too much on their scaffolding and come to realize that it is not as important as they think.Jill Livesey: And I noticed in the way you write and talk that you use quite a lot of metaphors, which again is very aligned to that whole narrative concept. How important is it for coaches to be able to think and talk in metaphors?Dave Drake:I think it’s huge because metaphors are wonderful because they’re wonderful bridges between the real world and the imaginary world between sort of logic and emotion, the real and the imagined, et cetera. And so they sort of provide a way into kind of how the client is narrating what’s going on. So often coaches want to go through the front door, but the front door tends to be pretty defended for most of our clients.Dave Drake:And so we’re always looking for side doors, ways to kind of get into the conversation that are through a material in the client stories. We don’t bring in our own constructs or our own words for the most part. We use whatever language is there, but we’re looking for openings in the story, which then are openings for the client, which are then openings for the issue. And those metaphors are great for that because, it’s the way that the person’s trying to figure something out. And because they say, well is it like this? No, no. They’re saying no, it’s not like that. It’s more like this. And Oh, okay. So tell me more about this. And so we, rather than trying to analyze the metaphor, we just go right into the metaphor and we’ll actually create what we think of a serious play, an encounter with the metaphor itself as if it’s real and in the room.Jill Livesey: And conversely, if you have a coaching counterpart who is more of that sort of left mode of thinking and perhaps doesn’t think so well in let metaphors, does that mean they might be harder to coach in this way or there’s some way of sort of opening up into that world of metaphors for them?Dave Drake:Yeah, so ones that are tend to come more from their right hemisphere and when they’re being coached are obviously going to be using more metaphors often in their own language. And so then we can use the symbolism of metaphor as a strength to kind of go in to a space that’s familiar and comfortable to them. And the challenge for them, the dissonance for them is to make that more concrete. So what does it actually look like if you did that or, let’s talk about how that would apply to your actual life. And conversely, if you have somebody who speaks more in a traditional sort of typical left hemisphere style, they’re still using words, right? They’re just using different kinds of words. And so we can bring them in, go into their words and say, well, can you give me an example of that?Dave Drake:Or what would that look like? Or does that remind you of anything? And you bringing them from their words into the pictures.Jill Livesey:Exactly.Dave Drake: And so you just, the two go together in a metaphor. It’s a word, but also it’s also a symbol and so you just start with the one that’s most natural for the client and go from there.Jill Livesey: Right. Lovely. Who’s been the greatest influence or one of the greatest influences in your work or life?Dave Drake:There’s a lot of those, I think there’s two. Two that stand out for me. So one was when I was 15, I was fairly bright but fairly quiet. Friends tell me I was fun, but I was pretty quiet, and I didn’t really speak much and I never really saw myself as a leader because leaders, I always, I observed in my that age were more extroverted, more popular, more all kinds of things.Dave Drake:I didn’t think I was. And then there was a woman in a group I belong to who asked me to say a few words before the dinner at our leadership thing we were doing. And I was petrified because I was the only freshman in the whole group. And so I said my words and then all these other older kids came by and said, “Wow, I never could have done that.” And so that was the first time in my life I thought, “Oh, somebody thinks I have something to say.” And so that was an influence for me. And again, I think we, our clients are just people. What they want is actually smaller than we realize. And often it’s just, I want somebody to see me, I want somebody to know me, to hear me, to be with me. And so I was thinking of Mrs. T Caroline, when I think about that.Dave Drake:And then I think the second thing more sort of intellectually. Roger Shank wrote a book called, So Tell Me a Story in the 90s and he’s a cognitive scientist before all the neuroscience stuff, but, and he’s kind of a strange guy. I’ve interviewed him later in life and he’s really eccentric but really brilliant. But as whole thing to helping me, it helped me to make the connection between our stories and our realities that we created around us. And then I could bring in people like Paulo Ferry and others and looking at how do we help people recognize the way in which their stories are socially constructed, the way they’re neurologically constructed, the way they’re symmetrically constructed. And so how the story no longer becomes like a fairy tale in a book, but a lived entity that not only is alive in a coaching session but as malleable and you can actually do something with it. And so it just really helped me rethink what stories actually were. And, so that was really influential in the very, very beginning of the roots of narrative coaching.Jill Livesey:Lovely. Let’s say a leader was listening to this now and they think, well yeah, so I did leader’s coach and I’ve been taught a coaching approach to leadership. If you could distill the narrative approach in one or two ways, one or two principles that a leader, if team members was able to use with them, what might that be?Dave Drake: So one is we know a lot about what makes a good story. And so we, through different pieces of research and writing we’ve done and we have sort of a model that we use to help leaders be more effective. Not in sort of telling stories again because sometimes that falls into the cliche of, Oh, I have to be sort of glib and tell stories. And no, it’s more about, in a crowded workday, how do you get people’s attention?Dave Drake:And so we use some of Carl White’s research on firefighting teams in the bush, and why some of them died. And there often was a failure of communication and a failure of hearing communication. And so we just, we’ve done that for a lot of the big banks here in Australia. And a number of other places have in the moment. How do you help people communicate succinctly through a narrative format?Dave Drake:And that’s done really well for us. And the second thing that is sort of on the opposite side of that in some ways is we the leaders, the most common fear leaders have around narrative coaching is they imagine. It’s like, I’m going to have to sit there all day and listen to people talk to and tell stories to me. And I said, well, if people are taking a long time to tell stories to you, it probably means you’re not listening very well. And so we teach them about how to listen to a story that actually enables them to understand what is most important for the storyteller and how do I get that most important piece into the room. And so I think about a leader that when I did a lot of work here for my dear friends at PWC, we had a woman who was a partner in our program and she was a good participant.Dave Drake:But again was like a lot of them, they go to lots of these programs. And it was back in the sort of the middle of the GFC when it was in Australia. And she was going to speak to the CEO and his team, have a very large family owned business. And she had prepared this gigantic document as there want to do, and she was getting ready to present that document. And then she stopped, because I was just in one of David’s workshops. Like what would he tell me to do? Oh yeah, put my book down and look at the person.Jill Livesey: Brilliant. How long was the course? That was fantastic.Dave Drake:She really got the point. And so she just cut herself and put the book back down and stopped and looked up and said to the CEO, how’s it going? And then he basically, long story short, he basically had said to them, I believe that no matter what I do, I cannot salvage my family’s business, and under my watch, my three generations of my family’s business is going down. And so then she closed up the book all together and put it on the floor and said, let’s have a different conversation then. And so she basically listened to him for half an hour and then said, You’ve been a faithful client of ours. We have people in our firm who specialize in this, and we’d like to donate some time to you to help you figure out how to approach this. And then if we can be of further assistance, we can talk about that. If the things we’ve prepared for you are really good and they will be helpful, but not enough. I realize that now, but it seems like we need a different conversation here.”Jill Livesey: What a beautiful example. And again, I guess it’s that radical presence and being prepared to listenDave Drake: And to understand what is this going back to, what does this person need most right now and not my tech strategies.Jill Livesey:Which is, and I think I’ve read it in some of the work you’ve done around in your heart of heart, what is it that you want right now? Which is what do you need right now. So I have a big interest and passion in career transition, helping people, if they’ve got one life on this earth in this body, then how do they consciously choose to make the best of themselves, whatever that is for them. And from kids we were asked what we want to be when we grow up. And it’s not a very useful paradigm.Dave Drake: No.Jill Livesey:People come into career transition coaching because they are frustrated that they haven’t found that answer. And so part of what we’ll do is reframe that for them that perhaps that’s the wrong question and help them to see that they’re this evolving narrative. How have you seen narrative coaching used in that career transition space in an effective way?Dave Drake: Yeah, so one of the things that we do is in any case is we try to help our clients figure out what is the most useful focus for our conversation. And what narrative frame would be helpful right now. And so for many of the folks who’ve used this in the career space, paradoxically talking about your career is probably the wrong frame because again, as you said, it gets a dead end street for a lot of people. If I knew that I’d be doing something else and I can’t figure out what else I need to be doing, so we in the narrative coaching space, we would look at, well, so what is the narrative frame? And it usually has to do with what’s important to you at this stage of your life. So we’d create some criteria, well, I’m feeling restless and a bit bored with working. I want to be more creative. My financial needs are not that high right now. Or my venture needs are very high. My partner’s not feeling well, she’s has an illness and so I need to kind of double duty.Dave Drake: So I need a job that pays well but doesn’t take too much extra time for me. And so we’re basically creating a description of their container in which they’d like the career to sit. And that for me helps people to make both more lateral choices that they wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, but also more prudent choices because they realize, okay, now is not the time to set up a consulting practice perhaps. Or maybe there is a past role you had, which isn’t ideal maybe for you personally in terms of your trajectory of your life, but sort of ticks all the other boxes of what’s really matters to you right now. And so a career is just a means to an end. So you have to figure what the end is, and then there can be some times her harder questions. And so, some questions like, do you really need that much money? And for whom are you making all that money? And is that sabotaging some of your other life needs by focusing so much money, for example.Jill Livesey:Lovely. So is that art of possibility with the reality of life, that perspective in a way. And in early childhood education, I know there’s a lot of work done around strengths, around growth mindset. If we’re looking to increase that equality of opportunity across the human race, what could be done with narrative work in early childhood? Whether it’s primary school or even high school.Dave Drake:I have two daughters.Jill Livesey:Trick question.Dave Drake: I know, how many hours do we have to answer that question? No, I have a daughter that nearly finishing high school and I listened to her horror stories about how she spends her day at school. And I said, “What an utter waste of time.” And so for me, I used to consult a lot to early childhood programs, but first for low social economic families, but also families of disabled children. And so one of the big distinctions we helped to make for these programs is a shift from a medical model to a coaching model in terms of how they approach their job and the ones that could do that just made extraordinary gains in their results for their kids and their families. And so for me, what we know from attachment theory is that the percentage of people that feel secure most of the time has dropped significantly in the last 20 years and will continue to drop as time goes on.Dave Drake:And so first and foremost we need to create a rich, safe environment where kids can just be themselves, play, draw, do music, try things, learn about themselves, learn about each other, and has nothing really to do with the mechanics of preparing them to go to work, which is what most school does. And so you have people that go to work that are emotionally unintelligent, not really clear who they are, don’t know how to get along with different people.Dave Drake: As the world becomes more polarized, that becomes even more important. And so really what narrative coaching is an appreciation of different narratives and appreciation of respect for other people. The ability to deal with conflict in new ways, but more importantly, just to have a core sense of self, and of self with others and a sense of what they think of as a safe haven and a secure base from which to grow. That’s the fundamental building block for everything. And it’s something we don’t teach in schools, and we’re more about content and we all know adult clients have, are experts in content but couldn’t manage a team to save their life because they didn’t learn those other skills.Jill Livesey: Wonderful. And it’s similar with the conversations, we teach leaders how to have good quality conversations and we’re not taught that at school.Dave Drake: No. And again, we go back to people know how to do this. They just can’t find their way to a state from which to operate. That would be conducive to having a good conversation. So if I feel I have need to defend myself against you or I need to be superior to you or I need to get my gender across or things done, whatever skills you taught me are going to go out the window because I’ve got other pressures which are going to dominate how I show up. If I need you and I want you to help me. And we’re in this together, then you move to a different physiological state and your breathing and your openness and your way of being in the conversation and it makes so much more possibleJill Livesey: And therefore able to respond more creatively and less reactively.Dave Drake:There’s more spaciousness in your mind, in your heart, you can hear things, people will say the exact same words I may have said 10 minutes ago, but now you hear them. You hear them very differently than otherwise.Jill Livesey: Thank you. So although you’re best known for narrative coaching, you studied human dynamics for 30 years and as I’ve mentioned earlier, you founded the Moment Institute to bring in your words, this interdisciplinary approach to the world at a time when we need new narratives about what it means to be human together, which is really what you’ve just touched on there as well. That quite beautiful concept I feel is both simple and profound. If you were to get the opportunity to coach a world leader, and I truly am not referring to any particular one, who is resistant to move from a thinking of those old institutions versus the new ecosystems, again, to use your language. How might a narrative approach help in that particular coaching assignment?Dave Drake: That’s a good question. I’d want to have a leader who’s even remotely open to coaching. We don’t have a lot of those at the moment and unfortunately the kind of leaders we’re getting now are often against actually antithetical to coaching in many ways. And so for me, if I found one, so I was always a big fan of Merkel in Germany as, I didn’t always agree with everything that she did, but I kept explaining to all my German friends, you do realize she’s the only sane Western leader we have at the moment. So and I think one of the things that she did well was she just held the bigger picture all the time, and fought for the bigger picture and the longer term view.Jill Livesey:So true.Dave Drake: And I think the second thing that I would work with them on from a narrative coaching perspective is that they need, they’re under the gun and under the line light 24/7.Dave Drake: So there’s no place for them to rest and just be themselves and think clearly. And so I would encourage them to have more time out. I would encourage them to find some smaller wins that they can use as sort of what did we call it? Islands of sanity. And so as a way to realize that not everything’s going down in flames, not everything’s a trouble. There’s a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things.Dave Drake: And so I would just give them more opportunities to tell some other kinds of stories and to really look at both. And the thing about humans is that we have a very narrow window of time. And we’re very myopic about time. And so other native Americans in the state. And I know I’m doing a couple of projects here with the Aboriginal community, same thing where they have millennia of stories and time with land and perspective on time.Dave Drake: And so I think I would coach a leader to say, look at the history of your own country, look at the future of your own country and you have to address the political and social and media realities in which you live. But you can actually define that in ways that you would like, which again means you need some projects and initiatives which are not under the usual scrutiny but actually demonstrate the kind of spaciousness you’re trying to create as a leader. And because the reality is if I were coaching them, is to say that if everybody waits for somebody else to go first, we’re all going to come in last.Jill Livesey: Lovely. Thank you. One more question.Dave Drake:Sure.Jill Livesey: Back to thinking about the coaching community, because I imagine a lot of coaches will be listening to this. In your heart of hearts, what would you wish for the coaching profession going forward?Dave Drake: Well as, as you know I’ve spent nearly 20 years sort of jousting at the coaching profession and with some success and some not. But for me, at the time coaching was the closest I could come to the work I was already doing anyways. Then there was all of a sudden a profession that matched enough and I also here in Sydney actually when I first did my public presentation on narrative coaching, I got the very first one I ever did. It was really handy because I did a demonstration at the end of the ICF meeting in here in Sydney and was, I never demonstrated that work in public and I thought it went really extraordinarily well.Dave Drake:People are a bit mystified by part of it because it didn’t recognize what I was doing in some ways. But then they had a really, a more traditional master coach on as part of their usual ICF program after me. And she was very good and she was also very extroverted and very goal oriented and very driven and very method focused. And her gift to me was I said, “I don’t do any of those things.” And then the contrast between myself and her was really quite clear. And so one of the things, as I feel like I’ve, I will continue to contribute to coaching and I’m doing this and I’m doing another session tomorrow night for another coaching group. So I’ll continue to grow because, and give to that community because there are a lot of my friends and colleagues and they’re trying to do a lot of good things in the world.Dave Drake: And at the same time in our new business, we’re actually building whole lines of business that have nothing to do with coaching. Because again, we realize my next book is on integrative development, which is bringing together training, coaching and OD into one practice in one person. And so for me, what I realized is that my heart of hearts wish for coaches is that recognizing that coaching is just a way of being. It’s a way of talking for which we get paid. But there’s a whole bunches of other ways we can get paid to show up in different ways. And we can’t just all be competing for the same C-suite clients or team coaching projects. That’s important. But it’s just a drop in the bucket because when we do that, we’re always going to be in a reactive space where we’re responding to whatever’s going on for the client.Dave Drake: And so we’re just basically following the clients around and yeah, we can help them be more proactive and do some new things, but we’re at their whim of what they want to work on. And so I see coaching becoming more proactive, more generative. And so we’re in the Institute, we’re looking at three basic pillars. One is spiritual maturity, to be able to work this way, one is coaching capability, and the third one is what we call social generativity. The ability to go make a difference with your coaching, not through charity. That’s just one way. But through the very nature by which we work. And so we’re looking at then creating a sort of a social measure for every one of our client projects. And if they don’t have a social measure built in, then we don’t take them as clients.Jill Livesey:Wonderful. And the name of the book again?Dave Drake: My book is that just Narrative Coaching, The Definitive Guide.Jill Livesey: And coming out when did you say?Dave Drake:The Narrative Coaching books came out last year and the integrative development book will be out next year.Jill Livesey:Next year?Dave Drake: Yeah.Jill Livesey: Okay. And again, we’ll put that in the show notes.Dave Drake:Great.Jill Livesey: Thank you so much for your time today.Dave Drake: You’re welcome.Jill Livesey:It’s been fascinating and I’m sure there’s lots of great insights that will both infuse and product lots of us coaches out there. Thank you.Dave Drake:Thank you very much.Jill Livesey: So we’re going to do some quick fire questions, David, before we finish. And one word response is all you need to give me. So tea or coffee?Dave Drake:Tea.Jill Livesey: Cats or dogs?Dave Drake:Dogs.Jill Livesey: Morning or evening?Dave Drake: Morning.Jill Livesey: Favorite movie?Dave Drake:Casablanca.Jill Livesey: Obama or Trump?Dave Drake: Obama.Jill Livesey:Favorite food?Dave Drake: Favorite food, salmon.Jill Livesey:Last holiday?Dave Drake: Last holiday, 10 days on an Island in British Columbia.Jill Livesey:Wonderful. Thank you.Dave Drake: You’re welcome.
45 minutes | 8 months ago
Exploring past and future trends
Guest Bio John RaymondHead of Asia – People and LeadershipJohn is the Head of Asia – People and Leadership and is responsible for building and running the IECL business across Asia. He brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his work having run businesses and business units. He remains very involved with the International Coaching Federation supporting local chapters around the region and is currently one of the Global Ambassadors for the ICF Foundation. He was privileged to contribute to the first and only coaching guideline in the world, The Handbook for Coaching in Organisations published by Standards Australia in 2011.John has been working in leadership development and coaching for over two decades and is passionate about working in a highly professional learning and development industry. A highly regarded specialist in organisational coaching, John has led large change and leadership programs in corporate, government and NFP organisations across the ASEAN region. His work ranges from developing individuals and teams to cohorts of leaders and whole organisations.John has worked with managers and leaders at all levels in private and public sectors across APAC. He has delivered exceptional results for organisations in industries including Legal, Regulatory, Engineering, Banking, Insurance, Social Media, Advertising, Pharmaceuticals, Digital, TV Production, Education, Universities and all levels of Government.Qualifications and MembershipsICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)Bachelor of Commerce – Marketing (UNSW)Master of Coaching Psychology (University of Sydney);IECL Level 3 Accredited coachCoach Supervisor (IECL)Diagnostics: HBDI®, The Leadership Circle®, Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey®, GENOS Emotional Intelligence SHOW NOTESThere is immense value to be taken from a conversation with one of most experienced, impactful coaches and coaching industry leaders of the past 20 years. It is akin to sitting with a sage, whose thinking is fascinating and spirit is generous. In this conversation with John Raymond, Head of Asia with IECL, we reflect on the past 24 years of John’s time in the coaching and leadership development industry.John shares his insights and experience of working across the ASEAN region coaching and developing leaders, his thoughts on what exceptional coaching looks like from various perspectives and a story or two including a reflection on the impact of the late, great Tony Grant. John reminds us, as always, to be human, keep a critical eye and continually hone our coaching craft. He talks to the immeasurable value of practice and not becoming complacent despite having some of the best coach training in the world.We also ponder the future and discuss a few really interesting trends emerging in coaching. The rise of popularism, the things that are challenging coaches and the shift from individual to systemic approaches. John also offers sound advice to organisations investing in coaching and tips for improving the impact of that investment. Transcript Renee Holder:So John, you’re currently based in Singapore, coaching and developing leaders all over Asia. How are you noticing coaching is different across Asia?John Raymond:It’s interesting that you ask that, because coaching in itself is fundamentally the same. But when you apply it in different contexts, there are some nuances that I’m discovering, only having kind of been out of Australia and living in Singapore that I need to adapt my coaching to. So, if I can give you a very small example. Singapore obviously sits next to the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia. And when you are coaching in Islamic cultures, obviously you can do it, but one of the things that doesn’t sit well is goals. Now, goals are fundamental to coaching obviously, and it’s what we’ve all been told, it’s what we teach through our programs.But in Islam it’s less about having a goal which is more an outcome and a result, and more about having, like what is your intent, what is your thought, the positive intent is the language that is used. So from a coaching perspective you need to adjust the way that you think about goals and how you set coaching up. Simply because it doesn’t land as well in that particular culture. So there’s definitely some cultural nuances, and I think the other thing that I’m noticing is that I’ve grew up coaching in Australia, Australia is one of the more mature markets in the world, and of course Asia being this diverse range of countries. The level of maturity and coaching across the Asian countries is really, really varied.So again, I’ve got to adapt, even how I talk about coaching, how I introduce coaching is going to take me back 10, maybe 15 years to where Australia was for some emerging countries. And then you’ve got some developed countries like Singapore that are reasonably sophisticated. The government sponsors coaching and has been doing so for 15 years. So again, it’s a relatively mature market. So you got this incredible range of maturity, of understanding of coaching, and certainly the application of coaching.Renee Holder:Could you give an example of where you’re modifying the way that you’re framing your pitching, coaching for a market that’s less mature? How might you do that in a practical way?John Raymond:Yeah, good question. I think one of the things, and generalizing about Asian cultures, is that mentoring and a sense of hierarchy and a sense of learning from elders is a far more accepted way of learning and developing in not only organizations, but also in society more general. So in emerging countries, what I find is that if I start with mentoring, they understand what I’m trying to do in terms of a development or learning. And then I can move into coaching and describing as a more of a questioning. And that gap is actually quite big. So in Australia and a lot of the Western countries, you’ll find that people will understand the difference between mentoring and coaching quite easily. In a lot of Asian countries you’re always met with a bit of a blank look. Like, “Why would you ask me questions? Why wouldn’t you just tell me the answer?” So it’s almost a smaller step from mentoring which is understood, to coaching which is reasonably new and often foreign. So the assumptions that we are able to make in Australia or with people being able to make that kind of leap of understanding for mentoring and coaching. I’ve got to take baby steps to get there.Renee Holder:So just bringing you back to Australia and Sydney. Specifically you spent the last couple of days attending the Evidence Based Coaching Conference at the University of Sydney. Our listeners would be very interested to hear any insights, particularly for those who couldn’t make it, like myself. Any insights that you have to share from attending?John Raymond:Yeah, so look, it was a … I mean, it was a bittersweet experience, because for those that know the University of Sydney master’s program, they would know that Tony Grant is synonymous with that. He passed away earlier this year, so it was very much a tribute to him. But his request certainly before he died was that not only was it celebrating the 20 year anniversary of that coaching psychology unit, but what does the next 20 years hold? And so what is the future of coaching? There’s some really interesting things that are starting to emerge, because there were some global leaders like Tatiana Bachkirova for those that know her works, she’s done a lot of work in developmental coaching. She, I’m not too sure of her ethnicity, but she has a strong Eastern European accent, which is wonderful to hear. She challenged us to think about the popularism that is starting to creep into coaching, and how there is an appeal to that, an attraction to that.And so she talked about things that we’re all very comfortable with, things like positive psychology, mindfulness, even coaching supervision. And how popularism is starting to creep into those and undermine some of the evidence base. So there are some wonderful presentations that really challenge the way that we thought about coaching. So, obviously the evidence base that Sydney Uni has provided for the coaching industry more broadly is highly regarded right across the globe. And we still need to have a critical eye on that to make sure that we are always honing our craft I guess. So don’t be complacent just because we’ve got some of the best coach education in the world!There was a lot of talk about technology, and in particular AI, and a lot of differing opinions as it emerges in the coaching industry, whether it can actually do the work of a coach or not. My personal opinion with that is I think it actually can, and very quickly it will be. That wasn’t necessarily the opinion of everyone else in the group, but it was certainly a topic that was hotly debated in the conference.I think the other thing as you will know is near and dear to my heart is systems thinking. And there’s an increased appreciation of the system in coaching. And one of the presentations that really brought this home was some research around resilience. And so when I went to uni almost 10 years ago and learned about resilience, they look at it as an individual character trait. Are you, as an individual, resilient? Do you have resilience to be able to manage setbacks and recover, and it’s not a foreign concept by any means.But what the research is starting to move into is looking at resilience from a systems’ perspective. And so it’s less about your individual capability, and more about the resources and your resourcefulness, your capability to access those resources to manage whatever the challenge is. So, thinking of even some well defined constructs that sit within coaching, and looking at that through a systems’ lens. Now I know Sydney Uni tends to have a bias towards a system lens, which is probably where I’ve inherited with my bias towards a system lens. But what it’s starting to do is to really challenge, and I guess challenge us as practitioners, about how we think about a lot of the constructs that underpin coaching.Even thinking about goals for example is again thinking about it from a more systems’ lens. And once we start to do that, and once we start to appreciate what the system is requiring from a goal, it does change the way that we coach. I think the other one that is not a new construct as well, so Dr. Sean O’Connor. His PhD was around the ripple effect of coaching. And so he did a keynote presentation yesterday, and what his research showed is that the leaders that were coached not only got benefit from the coaching. But the people that they were connected to also received a reasonably significant benefit, particularly around wellbeing, but also goal attainment and some other things.So he said, “When we think about coaching, we think, who’s the person that needs coaching. Who’s the new leader? Who’s the one that’s having some performance challenges? Or who’s that individual that needs coaching?” And he said, “When you look at it from a system lens and look at it from that kind of ripple effect of coaching, actually maybe what we should be thinking is, ‘Who are the influencers in the system? Who are the nodes in this network that can influence and connect with the most number of people?’ Because if we coach them we’re getting a bigger bang for our buck.” Now, again that kind of fundamentally changes the way we think about who we coach, how we coach, the purpose of the coaching. So some lovely mental or conceptual challenges about how we coach.Renee Holder:Fascinating.John Raymond:Yeah.Renee Holder:You mentioned Tony Grant a moment ago, and a visionary in the field of coaching. Has had a huge impact on so many people, and I know a huge impact on you. What was the most valuable lesson that he taught you? Or lessons?John Raymond:Yeah look, so many, so many. I remember, I was at a conference. If I get to tell the story first, and then maybe say what I learned. But I was at a conference in the U.S., and just sitting around the table at lunch, and … I said that I was from Sydney… They knew I was from Australia, and I said I was attending the Sydney Uni master’s.And they said, “Ah, do you know Tony Grant? And he’s this kind of movie star, this international guru, man of mystery.” And I said, “Oh yeah, I do.” They said, “What’s he like?” And I go, “Oh my God, he’s a grumpy old man.” He’s just he’s very ordinary. And for anyone that knows his background, he was a carpenter, and then he was a builder, and then he decided to become a psychologist and moved into the coaching area, and basically pioneered it.But look, I think that the thing that he probably told me the most, and there’s two, one is an appreciation and a love for the evidence and a passion for understanding the research and how that can inform our practice more broadly. But I think the other thing that he really shared is, don’t take it too seriously. Yes, we’ve got to have rigor, yes, we’ve got this wonderful evidence base that he’s building that is going to professionalize the industry, and all of us have a role to play with that.But never forget that it’s just two human beings. And at the end of the day we’re just doing our best, and coaching is one of those wonderful conversations that not only help the coachee or the counterpart, but it helps the coach as well just to be their best and contribute. So, from a philosophical perspective he kind of grounded coaching and it does make a difference.Renee Holder:You said that was 10 years ago almost that you’ve undertook your master’s-John Raymond:Yeah.Renee Holder:… and all together you’ve been coaching as you said in the intro a couple of decades now. So-John Raymond:In my 24th year this year.Renee Holder:Ooh, 24th year. So that’s a long time and wisdom that comes with that.John Raymond:Let’s hope so.Renee Holder:What advice would you give to people just starting out, new coaches or aspiring coaches? Maybe even for leaders who are looking to take more of a coaching approach, what advice would you give to those sort at the other end of their coaching career?John Raymond:Yeah, good question. It was interesting, if I can just share a little bit of research that were shared at the conference. It was from Europe, but it looked at the age groups of coaches. And my age group, which is 40 to 54, I don’t want to tell you where I sit in that age group, is by far the largest. But what I thought was interesting was the 25 to 39 age group is almost as large. So there’s a strong pipeline of new coaches coming into the, certainly the European system. And I would imagine that would be replicated around the world.For me I think there’s a couple of things that you can learn about coaching, so you can know a lot about coaching. But your skill is really about practice. And I think people underestimate just the effort that’s required, and the value that you get from practicing. And so my advice is, practice, practice, practice. Get out there, find just about anyone that will accept a coaching conversation from you, and just get out there and do it. I think a lot of new coaches get very much caught up on the process, which is fair enough, because it’s a structured conversation. There’s a process and framework that sits underneath it, so you want to be competent and confident in knowing what that is. But get out there and do it, don’t hold back, don’t try and find the best possible situation. And so practice, whether it’s at work, whether it’s with friends, whether it’s in community groups, the people that you trained with. Just get out there and practice as much as you can.But I think one of the best ways to practice is, obviously we know that the coaching has been asking great questions. You can practice your questioning in nearly any situation, anywhere, any time. And so if you are constantly thinking about what question might I ask in this moment. Whether it’s at a meeting at work, whether it’s at a dinner table, whether it’s at just catching up with a friend, and really reflect on that impact of the question in every single moment. It might be a bit obsessive to kind of do it, but I think in terms of honing a craft and really becoming confident in asking those questions. Use just every opportunity to ask a good question.And I think that if I can offer one other piece of advice. There are a lot of people like myself that have been in the industry for a very long time. And everyone that I know who’s in that position is committed to passing on a legacy of a highly professional industry. And so there will be a lot of people that have been coaching for a long time that are very happy to help you to be your mentor. I had someone come up to me yesterday, an alumni of ours, and he’s looking to move into coaching full-time. And asked me, he said, “You know, I just like to have a few conversations, just to make sure that I’m on the right track.” And I’m only too happy to do that.And there are hundreds, thousands of people across the world who have been practicing coaching, who know it well, and are committed to their tiny part of the legacy of the professional industry. So, find yourself a mentor, find yourself someone that can kind of help you along your journey, because there’s plenty of people. And I think the thing is that, maybe people think they’re too busy, or afraid to ask, whatever. But the people that I know are just waiting to be asked.Renee Holder:And for those coaches who’ve applied themselves and have undertaken the practice and now have a number of years under their belt. I’m sure they’d also be interested in what you see in terms of the difference between a good coach and a great coach. This is a question that we’ve posed to other guests before, and I’d love your perspective on that, because-John Raymond:I feel like this is a bit of a test.Renee Holder:No.John Raymond:What’s the right response.Renee Holder:We want your response to see, you’ll have a unique position on this. But you train a lot of coaches, and some of those people have been professional coaches for some time, some are brand new to it. And so what do you see sort of separates the good from the great, if you have some thoughts on that.John Raymond:Yeah, if I can answer slightly different question first, but I’ll come back to the good to great. What I notice in the, like you say, I’ve trained a lot of people. And there’s a point in their development where there’s a bit of a kind of shift in the way that they coach. And what they appreciate is that it’s about who they are being, rather than what they’re doing. And when they truly understand that and are able to kind of bring that to the coaching, that’s when there’s a steep shift in their coaching. So I think that’s probably when they become a good coach is when they I think see the humanness in what we do, rather than the process.But I think from good to great, I think the … Maybe if I talk about personally what I’ve noticed, and I guess the areas of development that I think have helped me be successful as a coach is one, being open to the whole person. And you know, it’s a skill to be able to listen in to everything that they’re saying. But I guess with my systems’ lens on, I think what will help people be a great coach is realize that none of us are here by ourselves. And so often coaching focuses quite narrowly on a performance goal or some kind of development goal.But as a coach we need to hold the mirror up all around the person, not just for maybe the specific area that the organization wants them to focus on. So again, like it comes back to not only having the conversation and maybe having a cognitive relationship with them, but it is about having a heart conversation with them. It’s about listening in to what is really meaningful for that person. And I think once we bring that into our coaching, a lot of the processes we apply in a slightly different way. But it has a bigger impact for the person that we’re working with.I think the other shift is that when you realize that coaching is not about you as the coach. When you truly appreciate that actually the more that you get out of the way, the more that you give the space to the counterpart, the more that you are able to give them that safe space to discover, uncover, recover themselves. That’s when coaching I think really hits its stride.Renee Holder:Everyone wants to be coached by John now, if they didn’t before. You’ve mentioned a couple of times the system.John Raymond:Yeah.Renee Holder:And ripple effect, and you mentioned Sean O’Connor before, and having worked with you for a number of years now, this passion for a systemic impact of coaching, and the consideration of the whole system is absolutely something that is such a strength of yours. I wonder if you could share a couple of stories just of that impact on the system. So you’re sitting in a one on one coaching engagement, working with an individual, how are you factoring in the system? And there’s no simple answer, but probably by bringing it to life with a story or two we might be able to explore that a little bit for our listeners.John Raymond:Yeah sure, so maybe if I share, there’s someone that I’m coaching at the moment, and she has a very senior role in an organization which is highly political, and she’s been given an almost impossible change agenda. It’s why she was brought in, she’s done it before, yet it’s, like I said, an almost impossible thing to achieve. So, in my coaching with her, we very much focus on her and how she is and what she can do, so that’s kind of the performance goal. But in the absence of really understanding the system that she’s operating in, and it’s not about her finding that out for herself, but who can she access in that system to get different perspectives around.And so one of the questions that I asked was, “Who else could you talk to, to get an understanding of the system that you’re operating in? And who else could you talk to that could give you support through this?” Now, neither of those questions are particularly revelationary really. But that happened, it sparked a thought that she goes, “I have this network of people, actually I can access that person. I do have a relationship with them and I know that person that I could go and ask. And they’ve worked in this organization before, they’ve been faced with a similar situation. Interestingly they’re a female in this organization, and so there was a similarity around that given the culture of this organization.”So, working simply with the social system around this person, and getting her to think more broadly than her team, or more broadly than her manager or the direct people. Because there’s people in the system that can give you both perspectives, but both support. So that’s a simple example. There’s another lovely one, which is I was working with a counterpart and we had a kickstart to the year this year. And so we had about a four hour session where we were doing a review of 2019 and looking into 2020. And what we did was essentially a stakeholder type map, and we did it on the floor. We had pieces of paper of who and what, and this is a global company, he runs the APAC part of this organization, and when we put all the people down, he was able to see, he was able to stand back and get that perspective about how all these people interacted.And what he realized was that the structure, if you look at the hierarchy and the way that the organization is structured, isn’t necessarily how the work gets done. And again, that’s no big surprise. But for him to be able to move these pieces of paper around to actually work out what’s going to be the best way, what’s the network that actually gets the work done, and who outside of the APAC region have relationships and connections. And once he could see the system, he was able to work out with the limited time and energy and resources that he’s got, where is going to be the best place to put his energy.And again, it’s so often, well this is where there’s a gap in the resources. This is where the person is challenging, so let me put my resources there. When he stood back and actually looked at the whole system, he realized, and again I said, it’s a lovely coaching principle, that if he focused on the influences in the system, and they were often the high achievers and they were doing a great job. But if he focused on them, he could have a bigger impact and have a more successful business. And so, getting that perspective, standing back, and we did it visually and kind of physically with pieces of paper, he was able to see the system in a completely different way. Which fundamentally changed his approach to leadership and what he was going to do.Renee Holder:So, I’m sure our listeners are getting a picture of you working with the individual, but also … And how that individual might impact their system, but also I’m sure their system is impacting those individuals. In terms of setting up a system, if somebody has some influence over that, and you’ve mentioned about say where coaching dollars are spent for instance. But also I’m thinking broadly about things that either enable or inhibit progress against the things we are looking to achieve in coaching. What can an organization do? Or what can a decision maker who’s spending money on coaching or thinking about where that money should be spent. What can they do? Some of those factors that might enable coaching to be even more successful to get a greater impact?John Raymond:Yeah, good question, big question in fact.Renee Holder:Enablers, inhibitors, everything.John Raymond:That’s a lot, but a good question. I think, so there’s multiple parts of the coaching industry. There’s external coaches like ourselves, the internal coaching kind of group, the cohort in the coaching industry certainly growing larger and larger. The leader as coach is being defined, and that’s still a very popular part. You’ve got these kind of multiple levels of coaching. I think for organizations what they can do is step back, and I know Peter Hawkins talks about this when he talks about building a coaching culture, is really thinking about what is the strategy. So if we step back from coaching for a moment and think about it from an organizational perspective, what are we trying to achieve here? What are the levers that we’ve got to pull? And how can coaching enable those levers?John Raymond:Because often what I find is that people go straight to coaching, and they just want some either one on one coaching, or some coach training, or whatever part of the coaching pie they’re after, without necessarily having thought strategically about what they’re trying to achieve, or why coaching is the answer. There was a great question posted by Christian van Nieuwerburgh who works for GCI. He is based in the UK and works specifically in Education. And he asked the question, “So, if coaching is the answer, what’s the question that you’re asking? What’s the problem that you’re trying to solve?” And I think that’s the part that a lot of organizations don’t ask. So, they want the coaching, it’s still the sexy thing which is nice to be in the industry, because we’re in demand, particularly in emerging markets across Asia. But yet there’s a misunderstanding or even just a non-understanding of what they’re trying to impact.So I would say that to take a step back first, and what are you trying to do. Like for example, we’re working with an organization in Singapore at the moment, and they have a wonderful intent that all leaders are able to coach. So fantastic, it’s lots of work for us, it’s a great skill for them to have. But my question back to them is, why? For what purpose do you want your leaders to coach? If you want them to invest in training, you’ve got to have a fairly strong premise for them to invest in coaching. And they couldn’t answer the question. I said, “Okay, so let’s just take a step back and what is the strategy?”I think one of the most successful coaching programs that I’ve been involved with, was with another organization where what they wanted to do strategically they said, “We want to improve engagement.” They got their engagement scores, their engagement scores were low, and when they looked into it, there was a leadership component, and there was a communication component. And so they said, “Okay, so if engagement is what we’re after, then the leadership component coaching seems to be the thing that will enhance the leadership, which will improve engagement. And so strategically they knew what they wanted, it had the executive sponsorship. And it was a really successful program. So, that’s kind of thing I think. And I kind of forgotten what the question was.Renee Holder:Those enablers of the outcomes that we seek.John Raymond:Yeah, yeah. I think the other thing is an investment from senior leaders to understand and appreciate what coaching can do. Again, what I’ve seen is where you have someone on the executive who has either had coaching or knows coaching. And if they can sponsor it, then it will enable a fast stronger appreciation and take up of coaching across the organization. Again, we’re working with an organization in Singapore which is right across southeast Asia. And all the execs, including the founders of this startup have had executive coaching. And so it’s an interesting culture, even though there’s about 6,000 staff, the top 10 or so know what coaching is. So their teams are now going through coaching, which is what we’re providing.John Raymond:And because their direct managers have experienced coaching and know the value of it, they help them to carve out time for the coaching. They support them by saying, “What are you getting out of the coaching?” So there’s that in workplace conversation about what coaching is doing. And so again, it’s a slightly different attitude to coaching. Simply because they’ve sat at the top and experienced it.The only other thing I’d say is, again from a systems’ lens. I’ve talked a lot about the kind of social system, so the people and the influencers and the nodes in the social system. I think the other area that organizations underdo hugely is in the structural side of things. So in the recruitment structure, in the performance measures, in the development areas. What’s the role that coaching plays in that and is embedded in those processes and systems? Not so much as a conversation, but as a measurement or as an expectation, or as a behavior that they’re looking for. Or in their recruitment process, is coaching something that you are recruiting for. And so, if you look at the life of an employee, is coaching embedded in some of those more structural elements from the recruitment all the way through the life of the employee.And again, it’s not rocket science challenged with competing resources. But just one or two things in each of those processes will hold coaching in a completely different way.Renee Holder:And looking forward as we look to the future of coaching, and with the three areas in mind you mentioned before, either external coach, internal coach, leader as coach. What trends are you seeing emerging in say those three areas?John Raymond:Sure. So I think with external coaching, again, it’s so market specific. So the Australian market and even say the Sydney market versus the Canberra market, with external coaches is very difficult to compare, because the markets are driving quite different expectations. In Singapore at the moment, one of the challenges that I have with the external coaches is that there’s an over demand and an under supply of good coaches. That’s fairly rare, because in most markets around the world there’s an over supply of coaches and under demand. So I think when we think about particularly external coaches, the market that they’re operating in has a lot of impact.But I think what’s in terms of trends, I think the quality of the education, coaching supervision. There’s a lot of things that have been coming into the industry over the last 10 years or so, that have found their place and are embedded now as normal professional practice, which is good. That being said, at the conference on the weekend there was someone from the UK that really questioned whether supervision was worth it, whether coaches were actually doing it, and did it actually add value.Of course, I had an opinion on it and I was happy to share it. But I think things like coach supervision are becoming the norm, so I think that’s a trend. I think for the internal coaches, and I think this is probably the area of highest growth in the industry. It’s not quite happening at the moment, but people are aware of the need for this. And that’s again like bringing some of those practices that we as external coaches almost take for granted. But embedding that with an internal coaching practice.Coaching supervision is a classic example. Most internal coaches are relatively unsupported for the work that they do, yet they’re expected to do almost the same work that we would do as an external coach. And so organizations are realizing that if they are going to build an internal coaching cohort, it’s not just about sending them to a training course and then letting them loose. They’ve got to have some good processes, they’ve got to have the professional development, they’ve got to have an ongoing learning journey for their coaching cohort. And they need someone to organize that, they need someone to hold that community, to hold that coaching practice. Just like you and Jane and Aileen hold the coaching practice for IECL, they need people internally to hold that.So I think internal coaches are probably challenged the most, because I think they probably got the biggest demands, but they’re least supported to do it. But that’s starting to change. I think the thing with leader as coach, the thing that I’m noticing is that it has moved from teaching them coaching skills as a almost like how we would teach a coach to coach. So instead of expecting leaders to have a more formal type coaching conversation, sit down, go through GROW, whatever it is. It’s really starting to come to the fore that actually leader as coach is about those moments when I can ask a bit of quality question when normally I would tell.So it’s not even necessarily a conversation, but it’s those moments in time where I push the thinking back to my team member or stakeholder in a meeting or whatever, where I’m bringing that coaching approach. And I think there’s a refined appreciation of what those moments are. And I think us as leader as coach training providers have a bit to answer for, because we probably imposed our whole coaching kind of methodology on leaders unfairly.And so I think what’s happening now is to realizing, “Well, yes there are small moments where those conversations are good, for your performance conversations or your kind of more formal discussions, but the real power of it is that single well placed question that kind of shifts the conversation.” So I think that appreciation is I think what we’ll see is the leader as coach training fundamentally changing from what it has probably been, which is really a legacy of professional coaching.And coming into its own, and even having its own set of competencies for example that are not professional coaching competencies like the ICF produce, but more leadership organizational conversational relational type competencies.Renee Holder:I think we could talk all day, John. I want to dip into each of these even further, so. Feeling there could be a need for a follow up conversation here. But as we come to the end of our chat today, and thank you for being so generous with all of your insights and your time. I wonder for you personally, how you both look after yourself from a wellbeing perspective as a coach. You’ve got a lot going on there, and lots of thoughts and ideas that are on your plate. How do you look after yourself and your own wellbeing through all this?John Raymond:Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s a challenging question, because I certainly would imagine many people and organizations don’t always get the balance right. It was lovely to see at the conference over the weekend that nearly everyone is speaking about performance and wellbeing. So not only for of the people that we’re coaching, but for us as coaches.John Raymond:So, to answer your question about how I manage it. So exercise has always been a really important part of my wellbeing practice I guess. It’s the thing that probably challenges me the most living in Singapore, because I travel so much. And so more often than not on a plane at night, or with the timezones there’s kind of calls in the morning and calls in the evening. So a time when I would normally be exercising, so that’s something that I’m challenged with and really have to make an effort to carve out.But I think the thing in terms of my wellbeing that I really appreciate it is my network of peers. Now I’ve got a peer supervision group, so that’s a kind of a formal structure. But I have, and I guess the good fortune of spending 20 odd years in the coaching industry have a good network of people that I can go to around whatever I guess challenge that I might be facing. So I think having that support network, and feeling comfortable to access it. I know there’s been times where I feel as though I should be able to deal with this myself.And the moment that I hear that I should, I go, “Okay, John, ditch that, and just reach out.” And like I said, same advice for coaches who are starting out, and there are a lot of people who are just waiting to be asked to help. And I know that from my network, all I need to do is reach out and ask the question. And there’s many, many people that are only too happy to help. So I think from a wellbeing perspective, having that support network and not only in place, because I think most people do. But actively utilizing that network is the thing.I think for me the other couple of things is, so my home is really important. My relationship is really important. So having that non-work space. I have a rule in our house that I don’t coach my partner. When I walk through the door no coaching gets done, and so it’s lovely to have a coach free zone, because so much in my world is around coaching. And which is really nice, because that means that I can winge and complain and go into telling and all the things that you know I did do in the coaching. So, but that home space is a real oasis, and it’s a place that I’m able to revitalize myself. So I think that for me is pretty critical.Renee Holder:So we’re out of time unfortunately, but I think we will need to get you back another day for a further conversation. But thank you. It’s been fascinating getting your insights about the last couple of days, but also about your experience that you’ve gathered over the last two decades.John Raymond:Yeah, thank you.Renee Holder:And I think for our listeners it will be wonderful for them to get those insights from you, and that wisdom from sort of a range of perspectives. You’re talking about your work with individuals, but also your work with organizations and we’re getting a sense of the impact that that has. So, and the future trends too. The way forward from here.John Raymond:Yeah, and we didn’t even get into team coaching or anything like that, which is a whole nother topic in itself, so. And I thank you Renee, I really appreciate being here.Renee Holder:Thank you. We hope you liked today’s episode. If you like to get the next episode automatically, please subscribe on Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. We would love to hear from you. Please leave your feedback, questions, and a five star review. Share this podcast with whoever you think would benefit from the topics we cover. Thank you to our host and special guest for the great insights gained in today’s episode.
24 minutes | a year ago
Organisational Coaching – what is it and what’s trending
Guest Bio Jane Porter Head of Coaching & Coach Accreditation, Coaching and Leadership Jane is the head of coaching at IECL, a role that leads and advises on the strategy modeling and approaches for coaching development. She oversees IECLs large scale coaching programs for public, private, and not for profit clients. And also lead the development and delivery of IECLs, ICF accredited coach training pathways, and ongoing professional development. Jane is passionate about increasing the professionalism of the industry and its strategic impact on organizational life. Jane, brings a wealth of knowledge and vast experience as an ICF master coach, educator, supervisor, and mentor across the Asia Pacific region. SHOW NOTES There are a number of types of coaching including life, business, career coaching, and there are niche offerings and new areas of expertise emerging all the time.Organisational coaching happens in organisations of course, and in an organisational coaching engagement or relationship, there’s the person that you’re coaching, but the organisation also has a stake in that piece of work and the stakeholders side of organisational coaching might be one person, it might be a line manager for example, but it may be a number of people. If you’re the CEO of an organisation, for example, the stakeholder might be the whole board. There’s more than just the coaching counterpart in the engagement, work and in the relationship. As an organisational coach, you are also there in service of the individual that you’re working with and you are there in service of that broader stakeholder system. When we come into the actual coaching, it’s a series of structured conversations that are focused on generating different thinking for the individual in the context of organisational focus areas and goals that have been agreed together with the stakeholders. Transcript Renee Holder:Jane Porter, welcome to Coach Cast. We are delighted to have you as our guest today. Jane, you are the head of coaching at IECL, a role that leads and advises on the strategy modelling and approaches for coaching development. You oversee IECL’s large scale coaching programs for public, private, and not for profit clients. And also lead the development and delivery of IECL’s, ICF accredited coach training pathways, and ongoing professional development. You are passionate about increasing the professionalism of the industry and its strategic impact on organizational life. Jane, you bring a wealth of knowledge and a vast experience as an ICF master coach, educator, supervisor, and mentor across the Asia Pacific region. Thank you so much for being with us today.Jane Porter:Thank you Renee. Good morning.Renee Holder:Good morning. Okay, so Jane, there are a number of types of coaching including life, business, career coaching, and there are niche offerings and new areas of expertise emerging all the time. How do you broadly define organisational coaching?Jane Porter:Let’s come at that from a number of different ways. So organisational coaching happens in organisations of course, and in an organisational coaching engagement or relationship, there’s the person that you’re coaching, but the organisation also has a stake in that piece of work. And the stakeholder’s side of organisational coaching might be one person, it might be a line manager for example, but it may be a number of people. So if you’re the CEO of an organisation, for example, the stakeholder might be the whole board. So there’s more than just the coaching counterpart in the engagement, and in the relationship and as an organisational coach, you are there in service of the individual that you’re working with. But you’re also there in service of that broader stakeholder system. When we come into the actual coaching, it’s a series of structured conversations that are focused on generating different thinking for the individual in the context of organisational focus areas and goals that have been agreed together with the stakeholders.As we move through those structured conversations, we’re looking to help the individual generate new insights, access more of their potential, more of their strength at work in order to be able to experiment. Try some things differently. Perhaps build some new thinking patterns, perhaps build some new behaviours in terms of how they engage with their teams and the broader system, and it’s all in service of performance. Performance for the individual, performance for the organisation and also beyond performance, wellbeing. Wellbeing of the individual, which is, I’m sure you’re well aware is an increasing topic of conversation in organisational life. So in our world at IECL it’s in service of performance and wellbeing of the individual.Renee Holder:Okay. You used the word coaching counterpart a moment ago. Can you talk to why you use that phrase or that term?Jane Porter:Yeah. Yes. It’s an interesting choice of language. Thank you for picking that one up. Because out there in the world of coaching, generally we talk about the coach and the coachee, so an IECL, we like to use the word counterpart and what that word does for us is it shows the intention in the relationship of partnership. When you start a coaching relationship, there is a power dynamic often in place in the room. Particularly if you are somebody’s manager and you’re coaching a direct report.And language can be really powerful. So we like to choose language that insofar as you can, it minimizes that power differential, at least in intention when you’re working with somebody. So that’s why we use the language of counterpart.Renee Holder:Great, thank you. When you’re actually in those coaching sessions, how does it work? What’s happening in there?Jane Porter:Well, I think before we even get to the coaching sessions, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that generally happens. It’s what we call the engagement process. So we will be taking a brief from an organization in terms of what’s to be achieved and then we’d be finding out who the key stakeholders were in this brief. And we’ll be having dialogue together with the coaching counterpart, with the organisational stakeholders to think about where we are and where we want to be at the end of the piece of work, so we can start to put some measures of success in place right at the very beginning. Now, depending on what’s to be worked on, we might engage in some 360 degree feedback, perhaps some stakeholder interviewing, and perhaps there are already data inputs that are in place for the counterpart based on other professional development that they’ve been doing, that we might then feed into the coaching space. So all of those things are taken into consideration before the coaching starts.The coach also looks at the organisational context. So what’s happening in their industry at this time and how is that specifically impacting the organization? For example, you would be well aware again that we’ve got some royal commissions either happening in our world at the moment or being talked about happening. So if we were coaching in an organisation where that was relevant, we’d be looking at that as a coach to see what’s going on in that world and how that’s impacting that organisation. And we’ll be asking the organisation some questions around that so we can understand the context in which we’re working.And then the coaching would start. And as the coaching starts, that’s really where the confidential relationship begins. And when we step into a space where we’re building trust and rapport with the individual so that we can actually create a safe container to really challenge the thinking, and really push the person’s thinking beyond where they can take it themselves.Renee Holder:Fascinating. So if that’s what coaching is, then what isn’t it? What are you seeing is often sort of confused with coaching or in other words, what won’t you get if you engage an IECL coach?Jane Porter:That is such a great question and I think as an industry we’ve come a very long way with this, but I still think we have a way to go as well. As many of the listeners would know, we’re not a regulated industry. So there’s nobody out there at this point saying this is the single definition of coaching and this is what you need to look for in a coach. There’s a lot of dialogue and conversation about what it is, what it should be. And there are some very strong organisations like International Coaching Federation and Association of Coaching that have gone out into the industry with competency frameworks that at least attempt to say this is what it is.It is, and set a benchmark in the market in terms of what you will not get. So yeah, our view of the world and I say it like that because there are other views of the world, is that the coach is not the subject matter expert on the content. What the coach is an expert in are coaching processes. Process to get you to think differently, behave differently, experiment differently so that you learn and grow from the potential base that you have within you. So, I’m not going to come in as an organisational coach, particularly as an IECL coach and tell you what to do. I’m not going to give you advice, not going to share my worldly wisdom, assuming that I have any in your field. Because very often when we’re coaching we’re not coaching in a field that we might have worldly wisdom in.So we’re really coming in as a facilitator of your thinking, your mindset, your behaviour, how are you operating in the world of leadership? How well is that working for you and your team and what can we do together in terms of your growth, and your strengths to enable you to do more with what you already have?Renee Holder:And that leads nicely into my next question because you train a lot of coaches.Jane Porter:We do.Renee Holder:And you hire a lot of coaches and oversee their work. So I would guess that gives you a pretty good insight into the qualities that you feel make a great organisational coach.Jane Porter:Well, I would hope so. Certainly when we’re looking for coaches to work for us, we have some pretty rigorous processes around that. So firstly there’s the usual things that you would expect in any kind of recruitment process, where there are conversations to just check that there’s alignment around interests, ways of working, values and that kind of thing. It’s really important for us to assess the skill of the coach and we do that whether they have trained with us or not because we are as you know a training provider, but there are other great training providers out there as well. So, we want to assess the skill of the coach and we do use in that assessment the ICF competency framework as a way of benchmarking, coaching skill.Qualities that we’re looking for. So I would say there’s competencies and there’s qualities. So the competencies are things like the ability to create great coaching agreements. To contract and recontract through the coaching engagement because things shift and change every time you start prodding somebody’s thinking. And the goals that are created at the start rarely stay exactly the same as they were and defined in the way they were at the start.Then we look at how does the person build trust in a relationship and how do they maintain relationship over a period of time and how do they manage themselves in that. Because as coach, I might know a lot of stuff about what we’re coaching on, so how do I manage that? How do I keep that out of the dialogue? Because the dialogue is for the counterpart and for the organisation. It’s not for me. We also look at how they are able to build coaching presence with an individual. So, are they able to notice more than the words that the person is saying and they are able to work much more holistically? Are they able to work with emotion, with energy, with pace, with tone? Do they have a mindset of curiosity and inquiry rather than a mindset of knowing what the answer is and moving to get to that answer?If we stay with that frame, how well can they listen and what do they hear when they listen? Because the listening and the level of listening will inform the kind of questions that get asked. And then there’s the idea of are the questions leading to new insights? So, are the questions that the person asks powerful enough to push the person’s thinking beyond where it has been thus far? Which then creates new awareness and when we’ve done all of that and what we want at the end of the day is some action. If we don’t generate action out of those coaching conversations, then we may as well not have had them, so really wrapping up tightly at the end of the conversation so that insight turns into action. And action that’s applied in the real world in the workplace today.Renee Holder:I’m also curious to know because you’ve run your own coaching practice before taking on this role at IECL.Jane Porter:Yes, I did.Renee Holder:And a coach can have all these great qualities and made the competencies and I’m sure there’s plenty of other things that you see sort of sits around that that helps them to build and grow a coaching practice. I’d love to hear your insights around that.Jane Porter:Yeah. Again, my mind goes in two different directions. It seems to be what it’s doing this morning. There’s the, how do you build yourself as a coach but then how do you build a business as a coach? So, I’m going to go to the first one if that’s okay. Because, as a coach you can learn the competency frameworks, you can do some great study, some great courses, but how you apply it and how you develop yourself as a coach I think is absolutely critical. Now the biggie for me in there is coaching supervision. Certainly, in my own practice and in the coaches that we hire here at IECL, it’s a not negotiable. You need to be in coaching supervision.And coaching supervision is the place where you as coach can go and focus on your own development. It’s also a place I think where the coach is able to take care of themselves. So when things are happening in coaching that might be triggering the coach for example, or the coach is finding it really, really difficult to keep that wisdom out of the room or they’re moving away from a session with a level of discomfort about something, or a particular style of coaching counterpart is difficult for them, or they get a messy ethical dilemma or a mental health consideration in this space. It’s not clear what to do with that. Then that’s where supervision comes in. It’s the safe space for the coach to be able to put that down and explore it in a professional capacity with someone who’s trained to help them with the thinking processes to come to a place of either reconciliation with whatever it is that’s happening or a place of action.So reflective practice, if I were to sum it up for the coach, I think is critical for the coaches growth and development. And almost a duty of care then to the counterpart, and the organisation.Renee Holder:All right, thank you. Jane, what are some of the ways that a return on investment in coaching can be measured?Jane Porter:Yeah, another great question. Lots of different ways and I talked earlier about the engagement process that would happen in organizational coaching before the coaching starts. So this is one of the things that will be discussed at that point is what’s to be achieved and how would we measure it? There are a number of different ways so we can measure it quite formally. We could put a 360 degree feedback processes in place at the beginning of the coaching and then again at the end of the coaching, often referred to in diagnostic world as test, retest.There are some limitations with that. I think that the coaching engagement needs to be long enough to enable behaviours to change and then for that change to be noticed by the respondents of the 360 degree tool. And also often we find in those situations that it’s a different set of respondents the second time around because people have changed roles or left the organisation or been promoted so there are some limitations with doing that. Another thing that we do is stakeholder interviewing. So once we are clear on who the key stakeholders are in the… Either in the coaching or in the person’s organisational world, in their role, we’ll do some interviewing pre and post, around a couple of key questions that are focused on the coaching objectives. In our world, we always recommend a three-way dialogue with the key stakeholder in the organisation, which is often the person’s line manager.And in that conversation we set up not just what the goals for the coaching are, but also what the measures of success for the coaching will be. And we agree on how those things will be measured. And some of those things might be formal, and some of them might be more subjective and less formal. So for example, how might a manager notice that a person’s behaviour has changed? And what will they be noticing in the system? What would they be noticing that the individual is doing that they’re not doing now? And we would craft some key points around that, that we would then revisit at the end of the engagement. And we would get together again with that key stakeholder together with the counterpart. So that we can discuss what was agreed to be measured and then what we’re seeing from all three perspectives, and sometimes if it’s a particularly long engagement, we’ll also do that part way through so that we can check that we’re on track.The other thing that we recommend is that with the rhythm of the sessions, which may be every three to four weeks, depending again on what is to be achieved, is that the counterpart and the key stakeholder having regular dialogue around progress. So, we talk about how that’s going to be structured and what role the manager or key stakeholder needs to play in the process because all three parties are needing to contribute to the success. I think sometimes in organisational coaching it can be perceived that the coach and the counterpart go off and do their thing and then they come back and report back and the manager hasn’t played a role at all and that can impact the output of the coaching. So we believe that all three parties have a role to play. And so we discussed that upfront. What role is everybody playing and how will we measure how each person is inhabiting that role and what they’re doing. So I’m sure there are others I haven’t mentioned, but yeah, lots and lots of different ways you can measure return on investment.Renee Holder:Great, thank you and mindful. We have a few minutes remaining and this next question is one that we could sit here and discuss all day. I’d love to, I’m sure our listeners would be very keen to hear all of your thoughts around where you see coaching as an industry changing and evolving. Where are we heading to?Jane Porter:Where are we heading to? The ultimate question. If I think about the conversations that are being had in the industry at the moment, I think that points us into some of the directions we may be heading in or at least some of the things we need to be looking at as an industry. I don’t have a crystal ball. When I find one I’ll let you know, but I think the question of professionalisation of the industry is a big one. Should we seek to become a profession or not? I tend to think in terms of professionalism rather than profession because with profession there’s regulation and there’s a school of thought that that would be a great thing for the coaching industry and there’s a school of thought that says that would really limit who we are, what we do and how we continue to evolve.So I’m certainly interested in the professionalism of the industry rather than us necessarily becoming a profession. Other things that are being talked about a lot are coaching in its formal sense as in the way we’ve been talking about it today versus the applied coaching techniques. There’s a lot of dialogue in the industry around leaders and managers learning some coaching skills as part of their leadership and management portfolio. That is a growing part of the industry and dialogue around we need to become perhaps more like that and focus less on the formal structured coaching so that is going to be interesting to see where that conversation leads. There’s also a conversation around artificial intelligence. And many listeners will know there are already products out there in the market that can work with structures, simple structures like [a grow 00:20:20] and a number of grow questions and take a human being through a thinking process to get them to think differently and act upon it in a basic way and get a result without any coach needing to be anywhere near the counterpart.So very interesting to see where that goes. There’s a school of thought in that camp that says that artificial intelligence will never be able to build the kind of relationship that needs to be in place for the kind of developmental coaching and deeper work to happen. Some of which we’ve referred to today, but who would have guessed that AI is where it is now? So I don’t think we can afford to be complacent from that perspective. And a more recent conversation I’m hearing in the industry is how do we do more with less, which is a very common dialogue in organisations generally. But the coach is being challenged to achieve stronger results with counterparts in less time. And this idea of long nine, 12 month engagements being challenged and how do you get me the same result in three to six months? So those are some of the themes that I hear discussed around the future.And I hope the debates continue because it’s from the discussion and the debate that we evolve. And one of the things that keeps me fully engaged in this industry is that it isn’t fully formed. It isn’t static. We do discuss, we debate and we evolve and we grow. And I think if we are in the business of working with others to enable them to reach more of their potential and grow in service of their roles in their organisations, then we need to be doing the same as individuals, as coaches, but also in terms of our practice and the profession.Renee Holder:Well I for one, and I’m sure our listeners hope that you continue to stay engaged in this industry and leading it in the way that you do. Thank you for sharing your insights today in particular. We’ve covered off a lot of things from how we’re really defining organisational coaching. Some of those things around what it’s not. We looked at the coaching counterpart, qualities of a coach and those competencies that you referred to, and the things that sit around that. And we looked at some of those benefits and returns on investment for the individual and the organisation. So thank you for sharing your time and your insights and for being with us today. Thank you, Jane.Jane Porter:Thank you for having me.
29 minutes | a year ago
Coaching and the board in the age of disruption
Guest Bio Gabrielle Schroder Group director for coaching and leadership at Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership. Gabrielle leads a practice that specializes in developing human potential. Gabrielle has had a successful business career spanning 25 years, most recently in a variety of leadership roles with the Australian Institute of Company Directors or AICD. As an experienced director and practice lead, she has advised boards and executive teams, helping companies govern for growth, drive performance, and achieve sustained value. Immediately prior to joining IECL Gabrielle was the head of the AICDs board advisory practice, a practice she built from the ground up. Fellow and graduate of AICD, fellow of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, chair of the New South Wales Cardiovascular Research Network and a committee member of the 30% Club in Australia, an international working group dedicated to improving diversity on boards. SHOW NOTES Directors are human beings like the rest of us. Coaching plays a significant role in helping them see themselves more fully and therefore show up differently around the board room table. In times of crisis the impact & the toll that is taken on directors when they find themselves in the firing line can be devastating. What we have responsibility for, as institutions that educate at that level, is to make sure that we’re building resilience, capability and capacity so that those situations are prevented The Royal Commission, particularly the Hayne Royal Commission has brought to the fore some real expectations on the part of consumers regarding the board’s role in governing for culture and behaviours and the decisions that employees make in their organization. Boards are struggling to reorient around what is becoming a much greater level of understanding and knowledge in our community on what good governance is and should be. Boards are having to really respond to rising community expectations around that role. If you think about the role of the board, the board is supposed to be independent of management and the organization. It can be very difficult to grasp how boards might actually execute on controlling for behaviours in an organization. Marrying the worlds of governance and coaching has a significant role to play in helping boards to navigate that quite paradoxical challenge. A research piece by AICD with hundred chairmen on “when does good governance lead to better organizational performance?” highlighted some interrelating findings: good governance is situational governance was perceived by the chairmen as a team activity. individuals, directors and executives all need to bring an independence of mind to decision making. good decision making benefits from different perspectives, different lenses. There is a need to maintain openness to alternative views: a genuine ability to be able to suspend judgment and to be able to change one’s views in light of a better alternative. For boards today, these traits coupled with how the board builds its relationship with the executive maintaining independence, but equally building high levels of trust is really critical, particularly in times of high change. A recent gender diversity report by AICD highlighted a drop in the number of women on boards. In some respects this may well have been an unconscious outcome. We need to continue to be very vigilant to make sure that boards are critically assessing who is around the table, the skill set that is needed today and into the future and making sure that board decisions are best supported through a clear diversity of views and perspectives. It wasn’t really until the notion of what a good board looks like, and what the best makeup of a board might be for best decision making, was challenged that the perspective of the composition of the board started to shift. We have seen quite a significant impact in terms of females on boards. Our target as part of the 30% Club was 30% of female directors on ASX 200 companies by the end of 2018. We didn’t quite reach that. We got close, now we’re seeing some slide and maybe that is because of the kind of challenging environment that we’re operating in and maybe there is this unconscious bias slipping back in. Role of coaching in terms of improving board performance Using the study of ecology to evaluate how natural systems survive in periods of stability and periods of disruption can be useful for boards. The ecologist that we studied was a fellow by the name of CS Holling. Using the Holling Cycle, he identified four stages of ecology that is applied to businesses. Four stages: Conservation Release Reorganisation Exploitation The board needs to understand where the organization is at any given stage in its life cycle, so that it can govern effectively. Coaching is about being able to tap into and access the kind of knowledge that’s innate in people, built up over years of experience and expertise. That knowledge is the thing that will give directors context, the ability to be able to have perspective, to be able to understand scale, to be able to predict different circumstances resulting from different decisions. The ability to be able to tap into this collective wisdom is essential particularly when we’ve got such a high degree of change, at so many different levels. In this sense there is also a real natural affinity between coaching, and the role of a coach, and the role of a chairman. On so many levels coaching is one of those critical elements can enable a board and executive team to be able to perform at their peak. Transcript Renee Holder:Gabrielle, welcome. Thank you for joining us today. IECL Coach Cast. It’s great to have you here as a guest.Gabrielle :Thank you Renee, it’s great to be here.Renee Holder:You have a unique set of experience and insight into boards. What do you see are the current challenges and pressures on directors?Gabrielle :Great question. Clearly the Royal Commission has had, I think, a significant impact on the world of governance and boards. And I think boards are really struggling at this point to reorient around what is becoming a much greater level of understanding and knowledge in our community around what good governance is and should be. And therefore boards are having to really respond to rising community expectations around that role.The Royal commission, particularly the Hayne Royal commission has brought to the fore some real expectations on the part of consumers in particular, around the board’s role in governing for culture and behaviors and the decisions that employees make in their organization. And if you think about the role of the board, the board is supposed to be independent of management and the organization. It can be very difficult to grasp how boards might actually execute on controlling for behaviors in an organization.And so one of the things that I’m quite interested in is kind of marrying the worlds of governance and coaching. And I do believe that coaching has a really significant role to play in helping boards to navigate that quite paradoxical challenge.Renee Holder:Could you expand on that a little further in terms of talking to how you feel that good governance leads to good performance?So interestingly, when I was at AICD, that’s a couple of years ago now, we conducted a piece of research (LINK TO “WHEN DOES GOOD GOVERNANCE LEAD TO BETTER PERFORMANCE” BY AICD), quite a serious piece. We had a hundred chairman who were interviewed one on one for a period of one to two hours, asking exactly that question, when does good governance lead to better organizational performance? And we coded the responses and came up with a couple of really interesting findings.So the first finding, which was quite novel at that time, was that governance was perceived by the chairman as a team activity. And the team was not just confined to the board, but in fact it was the board and the executive team. And when chairman described where governance was working at its peak, so working really well, was when the board and the executive team had four key attributes at play.So the first was that for individuals, directors and executives, each were bringing an independence of mind to decision making. So previously we thought about independence in a structural sense. So directors being quite distant from the organization physically and in terms of their relationship commercially. So this is quite an interesting kind of development, what does independence mean? Well in fact there’s the independence of the mind in terms of decision making.The second was diversity of views, good decision making, benefits from different perspectives, different lenses. And when those came to the fore that really helped to drive a better performance and decision making outcome.The third was an openness to alternative views. So a genuine ability to be able to suspend judgment and to be able to change one’s views in light of a better alternative. But all of those things couldn’t come to the fore unless there was an underpinning of trust. And of course we’ve seen that play out in the consequent years, this study was about 2015. And so the deficit of trust, obviously it has the reverse impact in terms of decision making.So I think that for boards today, those four traits and how the board builds their relationship with the executive, maintaining independence, but equally building high levels of trust, is really critical, particularly in times of high change. And I think most organizations would say that they are in periods of fairly significant change at this point.Renee Holder:On the topic of diversity and different perspectives and building trust, I’m curious to understand your perspective on a recent gender diversity report by AICD which highlighted a drop in the number of women on boards. Why is it that we still have this issue and in fact it seems to be a worsening issue?Gabrielle :It is, I think, a real challenge. I mean if I go back 10 years when we really started to look at the issue of diversity, prior to that, boards were largely an homogenous group and there was very little diversity certainly in terms of gender diversity apparent and in place in organizations of ASX 200 companies. And part of that reason I think, and this is just from my role and being in close proximity to boards, was that when you’re building a board, when a chairman and directors are building a board, one of the key things is to ensure that the board operates in a very stable manner.So there are factors at play to make sure that the board can operate effectively. And so when organizations are in periods of high stress, that there is a level of predictability around how the board will respond and how individual directors will respond. So I think there was an almost an unconscious bias and there’s been a lot of research since then to prove that that’s the case, where there’s sort of a selection bias around people that look like me, that are part of my networks, I’ll pick Joe because I know how he will react in a certain circumstance. And because my primary aim is to make sure that the company is stewarded well through periods of high stress, I’m picking a board that really will be able to deliver that.And so I think that’s kind of how it had played out. So I don’t necessarily think was a conscious thing. I think it was more of an unconscious thing. And it wasn’t really until we started to challenge the notion of what a good board looks like and then what is the best makeup of a board for best decision making, that the perspective of the composition of the board started to shift. And we have seen quite a significant impact in terms of females on boards. Our target as part of the 30% Club is or was 30% of female directors on ASX 200 companies by the end of 2018. We didn’t quite reach that. We’ve got close 29.7, but of course now we’re seeing some slide and maybe that is because of the kind of challenging environment that we’re operating in and maybe there is this unconscious bias slipping back in.So we really need to continue to be very vigilant to make sure that boards are critically assessing who is around the table, what is the skill set that we need today and into the future and making sure that those decisions are best supported through, as we said, a clear diversity of views and perspectives.Renee Holder:What role do you see coaching might play in terms of improving board performance?Gabrielle :I think it’s got a real role to play, particularly given our current context. So I’ll preface this by I guess some other findings in this research, which I find fascinating. One of the things that we did determine with the chairman that we interviewed was that good governance is situational. So it really depends on where the organization is in its current life cycle and the way that we use to kind of make sense of different phases of a business and then its life cycle, was to actually look at the study of ecology. So ecology looks at natural systems and how natural systems survive in periods of stability and periods of disruption. And the ecologist that we studied was a fellow by the name of CS Holling and he identified four stages of ecology that is applied to businesses.The first is conservation. So in conservation the organization is very stable. There is a real focus on efficiencies. There is progressively a greater degree of interdependence within the business, which is very good for a period of time. But as those interdependencies become more apparent, of course the organization itself becomes more fragile. So a disruption in one part of the business then has a more catastrophic impact on another part of the business.So in any given life cycle, after a period of conservation, there is always a release. So this is unavoidable. If you think about bushes and bush fires and what have you, there’s a constant kind of evolution around ecology and how it treats itself through life cycles, same as organizations.So the next phase is a period of release. So this is a period of high instability where the organization is disrupted, it might be a new competitor, it might be a hostile takeover, it might simply be the wrong leadership at the wrong time. And of course there’s a different kind of capability that’s required in the organization and for boards. And the challenge for boards is to make sure that when that release occurs, that the release is managed well and that there isn’t total value destruction through that process.After the release there is a period of reorganization and this is where you see emergent leadership occur. Often there is very little capital to access. Different business models need to be re engineered. What worked in the past will not work in the future. And so organizations really need to rely on being able to experiment, test, innovate, be creative, very different kind of leadership that’s required to reorganize the business. And boards need to govern for that and make sure they’ve got the right leaders at the right time.And then for the fourth stage of course, is once the reorganization has occurred, is gearing the organization up for exploitation. So in that stage, organizations are much more strategic. They need clear direction. They will have more access to capital as it makes itself available. And the organization obviously can traject itself up to a new stage of conservation at a higher level of value.So in the context of governance, what that means for boards is that boards need to be able to understand three key things. First, boards as a collective need to have perspective. So the board needs to understand where the organization is at any given stage in its life cycle, so that it can govern effectively. If it’s in a period of conservation, the board would be thinking about what likelihood that there is of a disruption and if it would be better for the business to actually disrupt itself prior to any kind of adverse disruption. That of course requires very careful governing context and very specific types of leadership to be able to disrupt and enter into a release phase. And you don’t want the whole organization to go into release phase. Often it’s just one or two components to make sure it’s isolated, but that it can obviously then start the process of reorganizing the business. So perspective is really important and that’s where the diversity of views, openness to alternatives, independent mindset come in.The second piece is an ability to understand scale. So a decision at one level of the business, what are the implications for another? So it might be a decision at an organizational level and the impacts at a team level. Often it can be the impacts at an industry level. So if you’re a big player, what are the impacts of your decision to the industry as a whole? And as we’ve seen in GFC, it actually can be global in that kind of impact. So scale is really important.And the third piece and probably the hardest to be able to build capability around is predictability. And again, that’s where perspective comes in. So if you think about coaching, so if coaching is about being able to tap into and access the kind of knowledge that’s innate in people, built up through years of experience and expertise, that is the thing that will give an organization in a board context, directors, the ability to be able to have perspective, to be able to understand scale, to be able to predict different circumstances based on different decisions. And I think there is a real need, particularly when we’ve got such a high degree of change at this point, at so many different levels. And coaching to me is one of those critical elements of enabling a board and executive team to be able to perform at their peak.Renee Holder:You’re relatively new still to IECL and Growth Ops and coaching and leadership is an area that you’ve quickly come to understand but still exploring. So as you consider future possibilities and formulate strategy, where do you start to see your experience from the past 10 years and beyond, which we’re starting to get a sense of through this conversation. How do you see that starting to inform your thinking around the next 10 years? A sort of where to from here?Gabrielle :Based on my experience, I do see a real opportunity for coaching and the discipline of coaching to play a fundamental role in helping boards and executive teams to navigate what is a very difficult and changing circumstance for most organizations at this time. I think there is an innate challenge in that because obviously a lot of what the board deals with is highly confidential and setting up and operating with for a board, it’s very kind of intimate in terms of the players around the table and making sure that that is something that’s built with layers of trust. But I think coaching can play certainly a role in the individual, in terms of helping directors realize their full potential at any given point through a decision making process. I also think there is a role for coaching in a board team context and I think that more and more chairman and boards are looking for ways to create support mechanisms to help them navigate through very kind of difficult circumstances.The other thing that I would say is that there is a real natural affinity between coaching and the role of a coach and the role of a chairman. So exactly the same kind of ability to be able to facilitate good decisions through great interaction and bringing out those differences of perspectives and experiences. So the chairman as coach I think is a concept that will become much more prevalent as we continue to build our knowledge around good governance, what it takes and how we can best support that as an education institution and an organization that’s committed to supporting executives and boards to realize the full potential of their organizations.Renee Holder:So Gabrielle, directors are human beings like the rest of us. How might coaching play a role in helping them see themselves more fully and therefore show up differently around the board room table?Gabrielle :I’m so glad you asked that question Renee. And I’ve been contemplating this because in the last few years when I’ve been working more in an advisory capacity to boards, one of the things that I have been exposed to is boards in times of crisis. And I’ve experienced firsthand the impact and the toll that is taken on directors when they find themselves in the firing line. And it can be devastating. So yes, absolutely, directors are human. And I think one of the things that we have responsibility for as institutions that educate at that level, is to make sure that we’re building resilience and make sure that we are building capability and capacity so that those situations are prevented.So I think that one of the things that coaching can do at an individual level is to really help individuals prepare for that. So really understanding and having sort of some ability to be able to train for circumstances where you might find yourself in periods of high stress. Understand how you show up in those moments. So in those moments you are most likely, if you’re human, to have certain derails. So some of us will jump to conclusions or responses, solutions quickly, want to act, response is all in the doing, but not necessarily giving time for reflection. Others of us might well seek to avoid decisions and sort of revert to a much more insular place. Coaching helps to draw out awareness around how we’re likely to react in certain circumstances and you do need an external perspective to help appreciate how I do show up in those situations and then you can train for it.You can actually work through the sorts of things that I need to look out for as part of my own makeup. Address those and make sure that you are acting in the very best interest of the company, with your very best ability and a very clear growth mindset at play. In a board setting, it’s very similar. Again, we’re looking at a dynamic that ensures that there is honesty, transparency, trust, that people feel very confident to be able to voice views, have alternative perspectives, that those perspectives then sit in the middle of the table, they’re debated. And really there is a process by which that board can come up with the best decision based on always imperfect information at the time.The other part of it is, in boards there is no boss. So chairman doesn’t have any innate powers above other directors. So one of the things that’s really important in a board setting is the ability for each director to be able to hold themselves and each other accountable. And so again, coaching can help to create an environment where you’ve actually got a group of equals coming together to steward an organization without hierarchy. And so that there is this sort of internal, independent, individual responsibility to make sure that we are all showing up and we are all giving our best. So if everybody’s receiving the support of an independent coach to understand how I need to be the best that I can be and how to make sure that I’m mitigating any thing that might prevent me from being the best that I can be.I’ve also got more knowledge about how others are showing up, what their derailers might be and I can make sure that they are as aware of those issues as I am.Renee Holder:As you’re speaking now I’m starting to map some of the things that you’re talking about around the IECL landscape model. What’s going on internally for us, the things that others not observe, our self talk, our thinking patterns, our values, how that translates to how we show up in our behaviors and how that shows up around the board table, but also those dynamics between people, the relationships and that dynamic that you describe and also the systems and structures. So you’re actually working all your way around the landscape there as you talk.I’m wondering what your thoughts might be also on that connection between the way a board member might work with their own coach and then how, the connections between that and then how they show up around the board table and that role of chairman as coach, how those two things might come together.Gabrielle :Look, I think there’s definitely a very significant role for coaching in both of those settings. In the director setting, I think there is some things that can be certainly done between the coach and the director off-site. So away from the board environment. And that’s really about deepening awareness around my individual capabilities, my experience, my expertise, what I can draw on to be able to help through any particular given situation and that can apply whether the organization is in a period of disruption, which is often when that sort of support is sought.Funnily enough, in our research, one of the things that the chairman did identify is that it’s actually harder to have the right conversations when the organization is in a period of relative stability. Because when things are all going well it’s easy to be able to just tick things off and not necessarily have the sort of the impetus to challenge, are we actually thinking about things in the right context and looking at different scenarios. Are there weak signals that we need to be paying attention to? Where’s the next disruption going to occur? Do we need to be thinking about a release scenario? If so, when, how do we manage it?So again, coaching can help, by having those independent sort of curious questions posed outside of the boardroom, can help a director to be able to then contribute in a much more meaningful way, to bring those sorts of questions to the table and be able to recognize that actually, yes, this is where we are in our phase, it is a stable phase, but we need to be constantly vigilant around testing ourselves as to whether or not there is a disruption of some sort around the corner.In a board setting, equally. I’ve actually had a simulated environment where we’ve had a coach that has observed the behaviors of the board and then provided individual and board level coaching through a scenario that’s a simulated scenario. And that process was invaluable, in fact interestingly the scenario we were in sort of two groups, where two boards were set up and we were run over three day program, run through a scenario where a listed company was in a state of crisis and as a board we had to resolve this issue and a whole range of other things that sort of came into play as a result as you can imagine.Two different boards, same scenario. We came to the end of the three days and we shared our decision and the decision making process. The two boards came up with entirely different outcomes as a result of just the makeup, the nature of the conversation, how issues were raised, what was brought to the fore, what wasn’t, polar opposites in terms of the decision made. Now the interesting thing is neither of those decisions are wrong or right. They’re just the decisions that were made up by the group.So again, this sort of awareness that coaching can bring around that, I think it’s just so critical. It does bring to the fore how important the makeup of the board is and sort of the attention that the board plays on particular aspects and how material that can be to the direction of a company. And having the support network of a coach just helping to guide some of those other things that might not necessarily be at play when the board is sort of operating in its rhythm, actually can be critical, materially making a difference.Renee Holder:Really appreciate your time today and being able to share with us your insight into boards. The connection with the ecology piece, I found really fascinating, so thank you. And I’m sure our listeners, you’ve provoked some thinking here in terms of the where to from here and the role that coaching might play. And I’m loving this thought around chairman as coach. Fascinating. Thank you, Gabrielle.Gabrielle :Thanks Renee, it’s great to be with you.
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