25Nov/140

Coaching leaders: Experiential learning for client and team by Dr Sunny Stout-Rostron

Posted by WABC

Learning from experience and client stories

Learning, and particularly learning from experience, seems to be one of the major components of the coaching conversation. Learning from experience implies an understanding of the language and content of the client’s story, with the coach helping the client to reconstruct their own reality by searching for meaning through dialogue.

There is so much power in the client’s language and the content of their stories. The significance of the client’s story comes from both the structure of their telling it, as well as the interpretation and significance given. In some cultures, for example in Latin America, Africa and India, oral history and storytelling remain very important methods of passing on ritual, tradition and customs. The coaching conversation can literally be seen as an extension of “telling one’s story” and looking for meaning and significance in the telling.

With this as a precedent, we can look at the “coaching conversation” not just as experiential learning, but as experiential education: learning from one’s own life experiences. These definitions suggest that learning is the key. This indicates that helping your clients grow, develop and become who they want to be, requires asking for their best thinking, rather than sharing yours. The four levels of coaching intervention with which we are working as coaches are interconnected:

  • Doing: What tasks and goals need to be accomplished?
  • Learning: How will you develop the competences needed?
  • Way of Being: Who are you as you grow and develop; how do you do you? (Weiss, 2004).
  • Transforming Self: Who are you stepping into becoming as you grow and develop? (Stout-Rostron, 2013).

Measuring results

In working with an individual client, there is no point in simply developing a leadership plan in isolation from the rest of the business and team processes. If the coaching intervention is to be successful, it is critical to develop a systemic, fully integrated coaching strategy that is in alignment with both the business and the talent strategies for the organization. Two key factors will be to identify the efficacy of internal and external coaching interventions at an individual level, and the use of group or team coaching to develop key leadership competences that are aligned with organizational strategy. Team coaching can also be a way to develop talent at subordinate levels.

Once you begin to work with an individual executive, their team often comes to the fore within a few months. Gaps are identified in terms of decision making, communication skills and facilitating meetings. Team coaching is becoming more affordable than individual executive coaching, and ensures that the team is working together in alignment with organizational values and goals.

Team coaching can help new leaders and their teams manage all aspects of transition, transformation and change. There is a strong link between business results and emotional intelligence or EQ (defined as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill). Team coaching will need to ensure that both the leader and members of the team improve their emotional intelligence skills, which will lead to better organizational performance. This will move the team to balance the needs of the individuals, the team and the organization. If the team members have grown in terms of self-awareness, the organization will want to see this “demonstrated” at work – in relationships, management competence, leadership behaviors and EQ.

But, in order to do so, the coach needs to have an in-depth understanding of organizational systems – seeing the coaching intervention from a systems perspective, and understanding the need for “structure” in the interaction between coach, individual client, team, and the organizational system. A danger of not understanding the “system” in which the client operates is that the coach risks becoming another part of that system.

Behavior change

As a business coach, whether working with individuals or teams, you are helping your clients to learn from and interpret their own experiences, and to understand the complexity of the environment in which they work. Team coaching is essentially about the results experienced through the relationship between the coach, the individuals in the team, and the resulting team dynamic.

Until we have reliable research from a wide variety of organizations, no one can guarantee that behavior change is truly sustainable as a result of coaching. However, based on research currently available, there are certainly guidelines for coaching which can help ensure that behavior change is indeed sustainable.

References

Stout-Rostron, S. (2014). Leadership Coaching for Results: Cutting-edge practices for coach and client, Randburg, South Africa: Knowres.

Weiss, P. (2004). The Three Levels of Coaching. San Francisco, CA: An Appropriate Response.

 

 Sunny Stout-Rostron, DProf, MA

Sunny’s interest in the WABC is based on its dedication to the development of business coaches. Like the WABC, she believes business coaching to be a developing profession in its own right. Business coaches can feel isolated, and the WABC enables them to connect in terms of practice, standards and ethics. Sunny has been coaching internationally for over 25 years, working with executive leaders and their teams. As a qualified Coach Supervisor, and Founding President of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), she is passionate about developing the knowledge base for coaching through teaching, research and practice. This has meant helping to create several Masters programs for business coaching in South Africa. Sunny regularly works with coaches and clients in the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa and Australia. She is the author of six books, including the recently published Leadership Coaching for Results: Cutting-edge practices for coach and client (Knowres, 2014).Sunny Stout Rouston

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
25Jul/130

Coaching Models for Business Success: Working with Coaching Models* By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching models help us to understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective and to appreciate the need for "structure" in the interaction between coach and client. They offer flexibility and a structure for both the coaching conversation and the overall coaching journey.

Although models create a system within which coach and client work, it is essential that models are not experienced as either prescriptive or rigid. The coaching conversation is about the client, not the coach. If the model is too prescriptive, it means it is fulfilling the coach's agenda, rather than attempting to understand the client's issues.

This next series of articles surveys a cross-section of models that influence the work of business and executive coaches worldwide. I will highlight a variety of models, including circular, nested, four-quadrant and U-process models.

What Is a Coaching Model?

A model represents a system with an implied process. It is a metaphor or analogy used to help visualize and describe the journey. Models systemically depict or represent a process that cannot be directly observed. In other words, a model represents more than what you see. If you can develop a model that encompasses the coaching conversation and the entire coaching intervention, you will begin to work with considerably greater ease within your practice. A coaching model is representative of what happens, or will happen, in the coaching conversation (micro) and in the overall coaching intervention or journey (macro). I recommend working with simple models that represent both the micro- and macro coaching interventions.

If you imagine that the model is the process you use to work with your client, it embodies all of your tools and techniques, including your question frameworks. A model is a simple representation of the journey that can encompass the skills, experience and expertise coach and client bring to the coaching conversation.

Which Models to Use?

The main purpose of this series is to introduce you to a variety of models, with examples of how to facilitate a coaching conversation using each one. The key principle I want to convey is that it is essential to adopt a structured approach to your coaching conversation. This does not mean that you cannot let the conversation grow and be explorative-I mean structure in a big-picture way. That is the beauty of any model: having the freedom to explore within each part of the model.

Purpose, Perspectives, Process Model

The Purpose, Perspectives, Process model (see Figure 1) was developed by David Lane of the Professional Development Foundation (PDF) and the Work-Based Learning Unit at London's Middlesex University (Lane and Corrie, 2006).

Purpose (Where Are We Going and Why?)

What is your purpose in working with the client? Where are you going with this client? What does the client want to achieve? Where do they want to go in their overall journey with you as their coach?

For example, one client working in the telecom industry said in our first session together, "I need your help because everybody in the organization distrusts me and I'm in a pretty senior position. What can I do about it? I'm highly respected by those subordinate to me in position and disliked and mistrusted by those superior or equal to me in position." As coach, your questions will relate to client purpose, i.e., "Where are we going, and what's the reason for going there?" It is usually better to ask a "what" question rather than a "why" question. For example, "Why are we going there?" sounds intrusive and can create a defensive posture on the part of the client. "What" questions help to create a bigger picture of the journey; "what" creates perspective. This client's purpose in this example was to "build alliances and trust with peers, colleagues and superiors throughout the organization."

Perspectives (What Will Inform Our Journey?)

What perspectives inform the journey for both coach and client? Both coach and client come in with their individual backgrounds, experience, expertise, culture, values, motivations and assumptions that drive behavior.

I recently had a call from a potential client who was a general manager in the energy industry. We chatted about his background, career and current job, and discussed his perspective in terms of his position within the organization, his style of leading and managing his team of people, and the impact of his age on his career prospects. Finally he said, "I have got as far as I can get with what I know now-and I need to know more, somehow."

We then discussed my perspective, i.e., what informs the way I work with clients, my experience and expertise. Based on our mutual perspectives, the client asked, "Would we have some kind of synchronicity or a match in order to work together?" He wanted to understand what models, tools and techniques I used as he wanted to create his own leadership development toolbox for his senior managers. He also wanted to understand how to handle mistakes: did I make them and what would my education, training and work experience bring to our conversation? In this first contracting conversation, we worked through the model like this:

Perspectives: How we might bring our two worlds together;
Purpose: What he ultimately wanted from the coaching experience; and
Process: How we would work together to achieve his outcomes.

Process (How Will We Get There?)

Using this model helped me to begin to understand the above client's needs, develop rapport, and identify not just his overall outcomes but a way to begin working together. At this stage of the model we contracted, set boundaries, agreed on confidentiality matters, outlined the fee paying process and initiated the formulation of a leadership development plan. We also agreed on timing (how often we would see each other and the individual client's line manager), and considered questions such as: What assessments would be useful for the individual client to complete? How would we debrief those profiles? We discussed potential coaching assignments and timing for the overall contract (including termination and exit possibilities if either party was unhappy) and explored how to obtain line manager approval. Finally, we set up a separate meeting to review the process with the line manager and the group HR director.

How Can This Model Help You?

This model can help you in three ways: to contract with the client, to structure the entire coaching journey and to guide your coaching conversation. Out of this specific conversation emerged the client's purpose, clarification about how our perspectives fit together to help him achieve this purpose, and the process within which we would work to achieve the outcomes desired.

This model can be used for the regular coaching conversations you have with your client. The client brings to the conversation a possible "menu" of topics to be discussed, or even just one particular topic. One of my clients in the media came to me one day saying, "My purpose today is to understand why I am sabotaging my best efforts to delegate to my senior managers" (purpose). As the coach, I wanted to understand all of the perspectives underlying the client's aim for this conversation (perspectives), as well as identify the various tools or techniques that could be used in the process.

The Coaching Conversation and the Coaching Journey

This model can represent the process for just one coaching conversation, but it can also represent the overall journey. For example, the client comes in with the purpose, "I would like to work with you; no one else will work with me as they find me too difficult." This client's purpose became to find a coach who would work with her, to help her to identify how she could not only develop the interpersonal skills to work successfully with others, but to demonstrate her new learning through visible behavior change at work. The coach's and the client's perspectives will be unique and different. In working with the client, you bring not just perspective, but your observations as to how this client seems to be working within the organizational system.

In terms of process, you may ask the client to do a range of assessment profiles, or you may shadow the client at work to experience how he or she facilitates meetings or interacts with customers, subordinates, superiors and colleagues.

Conclusion

Coach practitioners have a great deal of flexibility when working with coaching models. In my next column we will explore the use of the nested-levels model developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004). I hope I have stimulated your appetite to further investigate coaching models.

*(Adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Experience, Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. 2009. Knowledge Resources and Karnac.)

Resource Materials

Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lane, D.A. and S. Corrie. 2001. The Modern Scientist-Practitioner: A Guide to Practice in Psychology. London: Routledge.

Stout Rostron, S. 2006. Interventions in the Coaching Conversation: Thinking, Feeling and Behaviour. Unpublished DProf dissertation. London: Middlesex University.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
1Mar/120

What the World Needs Now… (Part 1 of 4) By Wendy Johnson

Posted by WABC

"What the world needs now...," a familiar line to a popular song written during the cultural unrest of the 1960s, was the theme of my 2005 President's message. To me, I believe, what the world needs now is ... business coaching. Yes, a bit less poetic than "... love sweet love." But read on...

Like the American and European cultural unrest of the '60s, there are signs of a global social movement that is permeating worldwide. However, unlike the '60s, the primary driver is not political ideologies. Today's driver is business.

Globalization and world consumerism has created a force within business that is greater than any one government since the Roman Empire. Worldwide businesses such as General Electric, Nike and Toyota have offices on virtually every continent, employing a workforce and servicing customers in every nation in the world. Universal corporate taglines such as "Just Do It" have become reproduced slogans in multiple languages, and symbols such as the Golden Arches illuminate every major metropolitan skyline.

Imagine a government with such expansive presence, or a religion with such unrestrained exposure.

While social movements of the past have been driven primarily by political and religious ideologies, business is gaining power and influence in the socialization of a worldwide culture. Understanding the importance of this movement will help us to understand the pressures that this creates not only on organizational leadership but also on individual accountability. In future issues, I will explore the evolving power of business to influence society and culture, and address the role that business coaching will play in businesses as they grow in their global influence.

Unlike consulting or therapy, business coaching provides a holistic opportunity for organizations and individuals to integrate their personal and professional values. Business coaching brings forward integrity and accountability. Taking our lessons from closed systems such as Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco, business coaches have the opportunity to impact a much larger landscape than their individual clients alone. Business coaches will impact global business and, in turn, the world.

 

Wendy Johnson, MA, CEC, CMC is the full-time president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC). Johnson's vision is a business coach working with every business, organization and government. Learn more about WABC at http://www.wabccoaches.com. She may be reached by email, at: presceo@wabccoaches.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
4Aug/110

Ethical Communication in the Global Workplace By Nerella Campigotto

Posted by Nerella Campigotto

Communication skills are considered fundamental in the workplace; but let’s take this a step further and consider the implications of applying these skills in a cross-cultural setting, and doing so ethically.

Effective communication involves expressing oneself clearly, being a good listener, using appropriate body language and ensuring how a message is delivered and received. It is inherently a two-way process. Communication operates through a system of customs and principles that are essentially determined by people’s cultures. When the communicators don’t share these principles, a communication breakdown, or miscommunication, will typically occur. Of course there are various types of communication in the workplace: face-to-face, email, phone, etc., and for each of these, the style of communicating will vary according to culture.

Webster’s Dictionary defines ethical as “conforming to an accepted standard of good behavior,” and the Oxford English Dictionary defines ethics as “a set of moral principles or code.”  Consequently, when we speak of ethical communication in the global workplace we see that cultural customs and principles affect both the communication style and the definition of what is considered ethical.

Let’s look at three areas where communication styles differ across cultures and how we can overcome some of the challenges presented and still ensure we maintain an ethical approach.

1. Explicit vs. Implicit

Most Western cultures, especially Anglo, Germanic and Scandinavian groups, will communicate explicitly, that is, almost all important information is communicated in a direct and unambiguous manner. This style also reflects those cultures’ ethics, which are to communicate clearly and truthfully without being vague or misleading.  Such cultures as Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American tend to communicate implicitly; they rely on the context to communicate the most important information and may take relationships and setting into account, resulting in an indirect and ambiguous style. Ethics in these groups require that politeness and avoiding embarrassment take precedence over truth; in fact, for many of these cultures there is no absolute truth. The avoidance of saying “no” in some Asian cultures is an example of how these two styles can threaten communication.

So how can we ensure that we are not offending by being too direct, and conversely, determine what is being conveyed in a vague response? Simply being aware of the situation certainly helps. Making others feel comfortable and relaxed can override what is said, and asking open-ended questions can help to clarify vague answers. Being aware of your own values and principles, and not judging the other party by your standards can alleviate a lot of frustration.

2. Non-Verbal

We use several non-verbal signals when we communicate, such as touching, facial expressions, gestures, body positioning, eye contact, speech volume and tone, physical distance etc. These can have different meanings across cultures.  Another major difference is the use of silence. Most Western cultures tend to want to fill long silences, and this can be perceived as arrogant by cultures where silence is interpreted as a sign of respect. We may interpret avoidance of eye contact as an indication of dishonesty or lack of sincerity, whereas in many African cultures it is considered respectful.

In the global workplace it is best to observe and then modify our non-verbal communication signals to reflect those of the other party where possible.  I am not suggesting to completely mirror these signals, but things such as avoiding touching when it creates discomfort is an easy adjustment to make. Also, don’t make assumptions based on your own non-verbal communication style. Instead, rely more on verbal clarification. A smile is sometimes used to hide anger so you may want to make sure you have understood correctly by verifying the meaning verbally.

3. Language

One of the reasons English has become the lingua franca of the business world is because of its richness, directness and precision. The Thesaurus exists only in English, and there are about 200,000 commonly used words in English (whereas French, for example, has 100,000). Some speakers of English as a second language, especially those from cultures that don’t want to lose face, pretend they understand when they really do not. On the other hand, pretending not to understand when in fact they do is a negotiation technique used by some others. Unfortunately, we now have the phenomenon where two communicators are often both non-native speakers of English, adding another dimension to the challenge of global communication.

Language is fraught with difficulties such as idioms, slang, jargon and euphemisms; these should be avoided when communicating ethically with a non-native speaker. Keep it simple, clear and use standard language. Clarify what you are saying and offer the other party the opportunity to do the same.

In conclusion, we can see that this is an extremely complex issue, but to begin the process of communicating ethically in the global workplace we should build awareness so we can anticipate the differences, and then observe and adapt, while still maintaining our own values and ethics. In fact, one could say that taking into consideration both your own and the other party’s cultural factors when communicating, in itself constitutes ethical behavior.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (October 2008, Volume 4, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.