Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Overestimating our Understanding

Generally I like to keep an open mind.... a beginner's mind as they say, and have never been accused of being a 'know-it-all' but I realized recently how I have fooled myself into thinking that I understand when really I only grasped the very tinyest tip of the iceberg!! 

It can happen so innocently, with the simplest of everyday, common language.

About a year and half ago I came across a phrase, "values-based leadership" and given that I was a 7-year trained and certified coach, who places a fundamental importance on values in coaching any executive leader, I presumed that I knew what that phrase meant.  However I didn't.  I thought it meant making choices for your actions based on your values.  But I didn't grasp the full depth of implications and opportunities with this concept.

Now that I have studied this model, as a framework for building high performing, sustainably successful organizations, I see what I missed all those years... the power of the entire people system, sharing a common understanding of their shared values and behaving in alignment with those values; the courage it takes for one leader to stop allowing outside influences to push them to behave against their values; the strength in values-based decisions; the cohesion when values-based performance management takes place; and the wildly successful financial performance that's attainable in a values-driven organization.

Don't assume you understand.  Probe deeper.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Resistance is Futile

Why is it that as humans we tend to resist change?  For the most part our species prefers the status quo.  The only time we actively create a change is when the pain of the status quo becomes unbearable or the benefit associated with the change becomes greater than the cost to change. Here's what I know. Change is inevitable.  It's part of evolution.  And challenging life conditions like economic, environmental and social crises serve as pain points that inevitably become unbearable and force us to change.  And, we always have a choice.  We can resist, deny or complain about the transition that is taking place or we can accept and embrace it.  We can fight it or join the game.  Resisting what is happening creates stress.  Accepting it and then choosing your next move in the game is far more peaceful...and fun.

Right now is a time of great change in our world. Choose to engage or react, but don't push against it.  Resistance is futile.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Problem with Coaching

The problem with coaching is that there are many problems with coaching.  I'm referring here to the word "coaching".  This relatively new use of the word, (for an industry that is only about 20 years old) quickly became a buzz word and hot button in many organizations.  "Have you got a coach?" became a popular question around the water cooler.  However, the results have been mixed, with many organizations wary of coaching initiatives because previous efforts failed to hit the mark or were not result-focused enough.

Unfortunately, the word coaching has many connotations and is easily misunderstood by the mass public.  Few truly understand the coaching process much less the power of it.  Some liken a coach to a personal trainer for your career, others refer to them as a shrink, and still others discount the potential of working with a coach since coaches are known not to give advice... "well what good are they then?".

To add to the confusion is that coaching is a self-regulated industry and one does not require a license or certificate to call themselves a coach.  Buyer beware: ask about training and credentials before hiring a coach!

A coach may have expertise in other areas but when they are coaching they are usually not consulting, counseling or mentoring.  Coaches are usually very clear about what role they've been asked to play and are intentional about switching hats.  The challenge for those of us who do offer several services, such as coaching, consulting, and facilitation is that labeling ourselves as a coach is a hindrance.  We run the risk of being stereotyped into others' interpretations of what a coach is, and the full breadth of what we have to offer is missed.

For these reasons, Sabine and I at Integra are presenting ourselves as People Dynamics Specialists, as we focus on culture, conflict, teams and organizational relationship dynamics.  Have you got a PDS?!?