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GROWTH IS NOT A STRAIGHT LINE

When you open yourself up to a learning journey, professional and personal development is a never-ending quest to actualize, to become more of who you truly are as you offer more of your authentic self to your world.

In leadership training, I often ask leaders to plot their career journey so that they can take a step back from their reality and reflect on their journey. This process of reflection is important because our daily lives are so busy that we often get lost in the maelstrom of busyness and so aren’t able to appreciate the lessons we are learning. And as it so happens, reflection is a critical piece in the learning cycle – read more on Kolb’s model here http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html

I so often hear from the wonderful people I coach that one of the most valuable aspects of coaching is the time devoted to reflection and deepening an understanding of self. Without fail, each one of these leaders have gone through tough times, periods where they doubted themselves, and where they felt like no matter what they did, they got poor results.

The trick is not to get caught up in the spiral, but to step back from it and identify how to move onto the next curve.

The tool I use is really quite simple. And it works not only in a professional context, but is also a tool for personal reflection.

Start by dividing the x axis into segments of time, with the y axis representing your fulfillment / success – however you define it. You then plot your career (or personal) journey over time, which may look something like this …

Career Journey May 2016

The idea is to then take time to reflect on what created the peaks and the troughs. How did the environment contribute / what was it about your boss, the culture, your role that facilitated this ? If you are doing a personal journey, reflect on your stage of life; what was giving you meaning, what were you contributing, what you were learning and who was in your world at the time.

With these insights, it’s onto the real question : “Now that you are consciously aware of what sets you up for success, how can you create the next peak (or indeed extend a peak)?”

You may need to create some change in order to jump to a new curve, or prevent a decline – and that change in itself may create some downward momentum for a while. But the idea is to do it consciously, using the factors for your success and happiness so that you know what you are moving towards and how to create it.

If you are an organizational leader, take some time to look at the success of your organization over time and identify what created success, what role you played and how you can contribute to additional peaks. You can do this for teams, departments, functions, families and relationships.

I’ve placed the basic template in the ‘resources’ section on my website. Please download it, give yourself space and time to reflect and then start planning consciously. I’m really keen to hear what you discover. To your success and happiness !

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WALKING MY TALK

It’s been a long month. resilience

On the 2 March, we were granted permanent residence in Australia, my husband got some tough news at work, and Bendelta were awarded an amazing project (for which I’d put heart and soul into the proposal).

That was the start …

During the next week, a crazy-busy wonderful week spent in Singapore, whilst I was so far way from her, one of my best friends told me that her cancer was back (after an 8 year remission). Back home, after weeks of feeling ill, one of my sons was diagnosed with an awful colon infection, work went into warp speed – and some amazing new opportunities presented themselves. And I’ve just realized that in two week’s time, we’ll be on holiday in South Africa. And the month’s not even over yet.

I feel like I’m living my life inside a washing machine.

And I feel like I’m a walking advertisement (maybe that should read guinea-pig), for the work I’ve been doing over the last few months which has been to integrate neuroscience, resilience and mindfulness. It’s an area of leadership development that our Australian clients are requesting, and we see evidence through our coaching practice what a difference conscious resilience practice makes.

Indeed, whilst in Singapore I had caught up with one of my clients who works at an organization going through tremendous growth, with 3 huge new projects online (one of which is planning for 2026 and is a classic mega-project). With all this change and increase in scope, I asked how they are helping their people develop resilience, and was particularly concerned when it emerged that it was not something they had given thought to. The assumption is that people should ‘just get on and do it’.

But how do you just ‘get on and do it’ when the load becomes too heavy?

To prevent burn out, and maintain effective performance you have to balance the load with lightness. What that lightness is differs from person to person, but the classic model I use for resilience training, The Corporate Athlete, informs us that we have to create rituals in 4 areas of our lives : physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. These rituals and the oscillating effect of load and lightness (stress/de-stress) is what enables us to last the distance .

I am reminded of the value of staying the distance as I watch how my 17 year old sons prepare for their final year of school and year 12 exams. They are fortunate enough to go to a school that offers tremendous support and really encourages the ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ type of preparation. (I’ll let you know how that goes as we get deeper into the year …)

So that’s the resilience piece – what about mindfulness ? Apart from the obvious benefits of quieting your nervous-nelly mind, I find it really helpful to be mindful that all we can do is to work with the hand of cards we’ve been dealt. Sometimes, it’s a really tough hand – one that requires simply putting one foot in front of another until the journey is done. At other times, the hand allows us to live life as nothing more serious than which cocktail to enjoy at sundowners. And if during these times, we fill up with light and gratitude, we’ll have more to sustain us during the heavy times. Because we all get them both … and they’ll both pass.

So, it’s been a long month. We’re all still here. We can all still laugh. We can all still hug.

And we’re going on holiday soon – now there’s something to lighten the load.

Happy almost April everyone !

 

 

 

 

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OK, WE GET IT …

Female LeadersLast night I had the pleasure of having dinner with an old friend and coachee.

She regaled me with hilarious tales of her latest (female) boss, and reminded me how important it is for leaders to be aware of a couple of things

Ladies, you are not men. You do not need to put ‘it’ on the table. Even, and especially, if you are in the minority, working alongside a bunch of men, you do not need to act like them. If you do, your staff will laugh at you. Period. You look like an ass.

Harvard Business Review’s September 2013 edition, leads with the headline “ Emotional, Bossy, Too Nice – the biases that still hold female leaders back”

Other than the word “emotional”, which does rankle a bit (probably because there’s an element of truth) in it, the other two words can be applied to all leaders.

I’m currently coaching a phenomenal young leader. He made partner at a really young age, and is leading a global team. He’s smart, articulate, considered – did I say smart ?  As part of my Executive Coaching Programmes, I request key stakeholder feedback – this is what one of his direct reports had to say : “ He likes to be the boss. That is fine. But he is already the boss”.

We get that you have arrived. Everyone can see you are the boss. Stop showing off and trying to prove it.

All it shows us, and what both examples have in common, is a lack of self-confidence. Ladies (and guys), please remember that when viewed from the outside, all others can do is guess the motives for your behavior.

At best they may guess that you’re trying to prove yourself. At worst, they may guess that you’re in over your head; that you lack confidence and thus need to throw your weight around to ‘stamp your authority’ on those whom you don’t really know how to lead.

And because they don’t really know what the truth is, they’ll test you until they get you or until you get real.

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WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

This post is unapologetically factual, and is driven by numerous requests to explain what coaching is, and how it works.

The accompanying visual helps explain the difference between coaching, consulting, training, mentoring and therapy.

 

What is Coaching?

Furthermore:

  • Coaching is a system designed to facilitate self actualisation, to help people become more and perform at their peak
  • It is empowering, and believes that people have the internal resources to achieve whatever they set their minds to
  • It promotes self worth, encourages learning and provides the platform for people to set and achieve mighty goals
  • Executive Coaching is a reward for star achievers, high potential candidates, new leaders , experienced  leaders and leaders in transition
  • True coaching is conducted by an objective, trained person who does not hold influence over the coachee.

Now, here is what coaching is not  (Apologies for the shoddy English)

  • Coaching is not performance management
  • Coaching is not for non-performers or derailed talent
  • Whilst line managers could (and should) develop a coaching leadership style, we do not advocate that a supervisior engages their direct report in a coaching programme as it may be challenging for the direct report for fear of looking bad, being seen as weak or being labelled a poor performer.

** Post updated 2013 ** For a great explanation of how the process actually works, see my blog post: Integrity.  Understanding Your Head to Lead from Your Heart.

And of course there are many different types of coaches:

  • Executive Coaches (like me)
  • Leadership Coaches (also like me)
  • Business Development Coaches (not so much me)
  • Entrepreneur / Small Business Coaches (me too)
  • Coaches dedicated to advancing Gender Diversity (definitely me)
  • Wealth Coaches (nope, not me)
  • Sales Coaches (again, not me, but here’s someone who really knows their stuff: Tom Abbott)
  • Health / Wellness Coaches (nope, not me, but here’s someone who is great: Karen Turner)
  • Life Coaches

… and the list goes on …

Ok, so how about the different ways I coach:

1:1 Coaching

  • This involves two people – the Client and the Coach, and can either be face:face or over Skype / Telephone.

Group Coaching

  • Group coaching is simply when there is 1 coach, facilitating a group of diverse people. They may be from the same company / community / organization but they do not have reporting lines, nor are they an intact team.

Team Coaching

  • Here’s where the team comes into play. 1 coach works with a team of people to facilitate both individual (and on a meta-level) group goals. Ths type of coaching works to foster cultural change, group goals and is phenomenal in driving change processes.

Shadow Coaching

  • This is where the coach ‘shadows’ the Client. It can form part of an executive coaching programme where the coach works 1:1 with the Exec. It can be used to hold a mirror to EXCOs / Boards , and is a powerful tool to bring about honesty and accountability.

Meta-Coaching

  • A systemic coaching system that gets to the heart of the matter by facilitating the Client’s understanding of their frames of meaning and translating these into peak performance. Meta-Coaches are rigorously trained and benchmarked against against 7 core skills before certification is granted. Click here if you want to know more : http://www.meta-coaching.org

Ok, so that’s it in a nutshell. I hope that helps you understand a bit more of my world. And if you’d like to know a bit more, or want discuss a programme, feel free to drop me a note : Janine.daniels@lead.com.co

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