24Jan/130

Achieving Your Desired Outcomes

On the Sunny Side
Achieving Your Desired Outcomes

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

The focus of the coaching conversation is to help the client work toward achieving their desired outcomes. It is in this process, where coach and client reflect on the client's experience, that the potential for learning and action emerges. Business coaching has been defined in many different ways, but is essentially a one-on-one collaborative partnership designed to develop the client's performance and potential, personally and professionally, in alignment with the goals and values of the organization. Business coaching should be aligned strategically with the overall values and objectives of an organization.

However, an important question is raised for executives: if goals are to be motivationally achieved, are they also aligned with the individual's values, beliefs, and feelings? Often organizations merely pay lip service to organizational values, and don't necessarily create them as a synthesis of the core individual values that make up the culture of the organization. Ethical dilemmas can arise during the coaching process if the executive needs to make difficult choices that are incompatible with their own value system.

Goals, Motivation, and Performance

If you wish to help your clients improve their behavior and performance, it is useful to understand the psychology behind adult behavior, goals, and motivation. Alfred Adler, who worked with Sigmund Freud for ten years, reasoned that adult behavior is purposeful and goal-directed, and that life goals provide individual motivation. He focused on personal values, beliefs, attitudes, goals, and interests, and recommended that adults engage in the therapeutic process and reinvent their futures using techniques such as "acting as if," role-playing, and goal setting. All these tools are utilized and recognized by well-qualified business coaches worldwide.

Motivational theories primarily focus on the individual's needs and motivations. I have typically worked with coaching clients to help them understand more fully their intrinsic motivators (internal drivers such as values, beliefs, and feelings), and how to use extrinsic motivators (external drivers such as relationships, bonuses, environment, and titles) to motivate their teams. If an individual's goals are not in alignment with their own internal, intrinsic drivers, there will be difficulties for them in achieving those goals.

In an International Coach Federation study (ICF, 2008a), Campbell confirmed that coaches often assume clients are aware of their values, but within the confines of the study this appeared to be incorrect. The clients interviewed indicated they were not aware of their values, and that acquiring a process of awareness and reflection led them to become more aware of their emotions, their values, and the need to clarify their goals. Whitmore (2002) supports this and states that the goal of the coach is to build awareness, responsibility, and self-belief.

The coach's intervention and questions help the client to discover their own intrinsic drivers or motivators, and allow both coach and client to identify whether the client's personal, professional, and organizational goals are in alignment.

Adult and Experiential Learning

Adult learning theory has influenced coaching from the start: the goal of adult learning is to achieve a balance between work and personal life. In the same way, most business coach-client relationships involve an integration of personal and systems work. Personal work is intended to help the client develop the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual competence to achieve their desired goals; systems work may be found within a partnership, marriage, family, organizational team, or matrix structure.

Another powerful influence on goal-setting in coaching is experiential learning because it emphasizes a client's individual, subjective experience. In this process, coach and client probe the essence of an experience to understand its significance and to determine any learning that can be gained from it. The importance of experiential learning is that coach and client use the business coaching conversation to actively reconstruct the client's experience, with a focus on setting goals that are aligned with the client's intrinsic drivers, i.e., values, beliefs, and feelings.

Other considerations may be language, social class, gender, ethnic background, and the individual's style of learning. In learning from experience, it is useful to understand which barriers prevent the client from learning. Often it is a matter of developing self-reflective skills as much as self-management skills. What clients learn from their experience can transform their perceptions, their limiting and liberating assumptions, their way of interpreting the world - and their ability to achieve results.

Types of Goals

The coach is responsible for ensuring that goal-setting conversations get the best results. O'Neill (2000) differentiates between two kinds of client goals, business and personal, and links the coaching effort to a business result, highlighting and prioritizing the business areas that need attention. Business goals are about achieving external results; personal goals are what the leader has to do differently in the way they conduct themselves in order to get the business results they envision.

Yalom (1980) talks about two types of goals: content (what is to be accomplished) and process (how the coach wants to be in a session). However, he also describes the importance of setting concrete attainable goals - goals that the client has personally defined, and which increase their sense of responsibility for their own individual change.

Developmental Goal-setting

If the client is to learn how to learn, they need to cultivate self-awareness through reflection on their experience, values, intrinsic drivers, the impact of these on others, the environment, and their own future goals. This process is often implicit in the coaching relationship through the process of questions and actions that develop critical reflection and practice. As a coach, you will be asking questions to help clients reflect, review, and gain useable knowledge from their experience. A useful structure for your work with business executives is along the continuum of a development pipeline developed by David Peterson (2009). Your questions and challenges in your coaching sessions can help your clients reflect in five areas:

  1. Insight: How are you continually developing insight into areas where you need to develop?
  2. Motivation: What are your levels of motivation based on the time and energy you're willing to invest in yourself?
  3. Capabilities: What are your leadership capabilities; what skills, knowledge, and competencies do you still need to develop?
  4. Real-world practice: How are you continually applying your new skills at work?
  5. Accountability: How are you creating, defining, and taking accountability?

Business coaching places great emphasis on clarifying and achieving goals. Often within the complexity of the organizational environment, the client's overarching goals may be set by a more senior power; where that senior individual may have different worldviews, paradigms, and limiting or empowering assumptions. It is crucial that the client have a "living sense" of what their goal may be. In other words, goals must be aligned with the values of the individual as much as with those of the organization if they are to be achieved.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

References

Griffiths, K. E, and Campbell, M. A. (2008). Regulating the Regulators: Paving the Way for International, Evidence-Based Coaching Standards. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and Mentoring6(1):19-31.

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008a). Core Competencies. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage: http://www.coachfederation.org/research-education/icf-credentials/core-competencies/

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008b). ICF Code of Ethics. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage: http://www.coachfederation.org/about-icf/ethics-%26-regulation/icf-code-of-ethics/

O'Neill, M. B. (2000). Coaching with Backbone and Heart: A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Peterson, D. (2009). Executive Coaching, A Critical Review and Recommendation for Advancing the Practice (in S. Zedeck (Ed.) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching International, Transforming Individuals and Organizations. London: Karnac.

Whitmore, J. (2002). Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching(2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). More about Sunny in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Sunny.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
11Oct/120

Shanghai Motors: A Case Study in GeoleadershipTM

Posted by WABC

By Dr. E. S. Wibbeke and Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca

Can leaders be successful leading business ventures in cultures outside of their own without understanding those novel cultures? If recent research and news accounts are correct, the answer is no. A conservative estimate suggests that 70% of global business ventures fail because of mismanagement of cultural differences.1 In this article, we address the question of intercultural leadership competence and how to build it. Based on original research conducted with 30 intercultural experts, we developed and tested a leadership preparation model we call GeoleadershipTM. This model does not suggest a blanket approach to leadership preparation approaches. Rather, it addresses missing aspects of culturally biased approaches. The remainder of the article describes the typical problems inherent in intercultural business contexts, presents the GeoleadershipTM Model components, and then applies the model to a specific case study in a global business.

The Problem of Culture

Whether or not we desire to, most adults act from a cultural bias. Culture influences, if not controls, our lives. Culture informs our religious/spiritual beliefs, our ways of eating, our manner of dress, and how we view the world. Our own cultures become so ingrained and second nature that they feel quite natural. When we put ourselves in another culture, we can quickly encounter customs, beliefs, and laws that feel quite unnatural. Therein lies the dilemma for business leaders who desire to conduct business in a culture outside their own. Leading a business venture in another country across national and international boundaries can be daunting. As recently as 2004, the world consisted of at least 200 nations and over 5000 ethnic groups. In many countries, the population is segmented into a dominant majority with one or more ethnic minorities amounting to more than 10% of the population.2

Theorists define culture variously and, as Pedersen and Connerley suggest, culture is often a misunderstood construct in organizations.3 Hall4 viewed culture as a mental exercise for sending, sorting, and processing of information. Kroeber and Kluckhohn5suggested that culture was an abstraction, rather than something tangible. Triandis6 perceived culture as a set of norms, roles, and values that produce meaning. Samovar and Porter7 suggested that culture is the cumulative deposit of knowledge and experience acquired by groups of people and then passed on to subsequent generations. House, Wright, and Aditya8 defined culture as the patterns of shared psychological properties among collective members resulting in attitudes and behaviors transmitted across generations. Such psychological properties include assumptions, beliefs, and values. When shared collectively, such properties become cultural norms or accepted behaviors. Although culture appears to be related to ethnicity, nationality, demography, or status, the typical definition is similar to Hofstede's "the collective programming of the mind that distinguished the members of one human group from another."9

Adding complexity to the picture is the fact that business organizations, too, have or are cultures. Shafritz and Ott10 described organizational culture as "a polemical concept which does not lend itself to a single definition." Van Maanen11 posited that it was "observed behavioral regularities when people interact, such as the language used and the rituals around deference and demeanor." Deal and Kennedy12 argued that culture is "the dominant values espoused by an organization, such as product quality, or price leadership and affects practically everything from who gets promoted and what decisions are made, to how employees dress."

Leadership Is a Cultural Concept

The problem with even the best-intentioned recommendations for leadership competence in intercultural contexts is that there still remains a cultural bias. In other words, the very concept of leadership is culturally bound. For example, in French, leadership (conduit) means "to guide one's own behavior, to guide others, or command action." Although the French are famous for protesting, authority commands deference and respect. In German, leadership (führung) means "guidance," and in organizations, it is construed to consist of uncertainty reduction. The leader guides action by the rules in such a way as to motivate. In Arabic, there is a word sheikh that has different meanings according to the regional culture. Literally, sheikh means a man over 40. However, in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, sheikh means a person from the Royal Family. In Egypt, sheikhmeans a scholar of religion. In Lebanon, sheikh means a religious leader, even among Christians. The socioeconomic and political culture of the Middle East plays a role in influencing the definition of leadership, though it is generally agreed that leadership is tied to seniority before any other qualification. In most of the Middle East, the term" leadership" is a political term, with the exception that in Iran, it is more a religious term. In Chinese, the characters for leadership, mean "the leader and the led." The implication is that leadership can only be a relational activity. For this article, we focus on a US leader who faced the intersection of American and Chinese business culture.

The GeoleadershipTM Model

We conducted a study with leading intercultural experts from around the world to determine the critical competencies for intercultural leadership and how leaders can acquire them. While the study's questions focused on US business leaders, panelists concluded that their recommendations held for all leaders engaged in global enterprise.

From the analysis, we identified seven critical factors considered necessary for intercultural leadership competence. These seven critical factors were integrated and form the foundation for Geoleadership,TM a new intercultural leadership model. The seven factors are as follows:

Care: Global business leaders should hold and maintain equal concern for the bottom line and for stakeholder groups. One of the starkest criticisms of US business leaders is that their focus is on profit above all other considerations. While we can agree that one objective of business is profit creation, we also believe that a longer term and broader social system ultimately serves business.

Communication: In order for business leaders to lead effectively in intercultural situations, they must engage the people of the cultures in whose countries they work. Closely related to context is that leaders must reach out to people in other cultures with a desire to understand and appreciate that culture and its people. Leaders must learn communication skills that promote listening and open, respectful dialogue.

Consciousness: A person filling the role of leader (or manager) needs to develop self-awareness. A leader's awareness must be expandable as contexts shift such that the leader becomes aware of his/her own personal cultural background and bias relative to that of other people. Building consciousness means being able to expand self-awareness.

Contrasts: Leaders must be able to work comfortably and effectively with ambiguity. Developing a tolerance for working with contrasting perspectives, methods, and differing value systems is critical. Working in ambiguous contexts requires patience and consciousness. Working at such a high level of consciousness means that leaders must be able to perceive multiple levels of contrasting meaning simultaneously.

Context: Global business leaders must develop the ability to A) perceive, discern, and adapt to the situations within which they work, and B) suspend judgment. As trite as it may seem, the old expression "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" seems to apply. This is not to suggest that leaders patronize the people with whom they interact in intercultural contexts. Rather, global business leaders must attend to the situation in which they find themselves. Leaders need to be able to recognize their own culturally learned behavior and adapt it according to their new context.

Change: Postmodern organizations require leaders who demonstrate flexibility in adapting to dynamic cultural environments. Intercultural leaders must shift from the old mechanistic mindsets of the industrial era to the flexible adaptive perspective of organizational life as a complex sociocultural system.

Capability: In order for a leader to be effective in intercultural situations, sufficient personal and organization capabilities must be developed. Intercultural competence requires that leaders are able to assess their own and others' capability and build it where there is deficit. Most important is the leader's influence in facilitating the creation of an organizational culture capable of intercultural learning agility.

In the following section we present a case study and illustrate how each of the seven model principles potentially contributed to the success of a leader who transferred from the US to China, and who, as president, led his company's expansion into that country.

The Case of Shanghai Motors Parts

Tom Fontaine is the president of Shanghai Motor Parts, the second largest auto interior parts manufacturing company now operating in China. He is from Wisconsin, graduated from Princeton and Harvard universities, and is fluent in Mandarin. He has lived and worked in Shanghai with his wife and children for 15 years and become thoroughly immersed in the culture. The company's strategy for entering China was rather simple. China had a large workforce that was willing to work for much lower wages than laborers in Europe and North America. Moreover, there was a thriving economy and the Chinese people had acquired an appetite for driving automobiles. Before the current economic crisis, China was the third largest producer of automobiles in the world, although a large number were foreign carmakers. China's own auto manufacturers are not well known outside of that country. Shanghai Motor Parts found a niche selling interior parts and components to the largest of the homegrown Chinese auto manufacturers.

When Tom Fontaine took the assignment to explore the possibility of going into China, he had several concerns about navigating the Chinese culture. Tom's first consideration was related to the corporation's goals of expansion. Chief among those was his intention that whatever agreement was forged had to benefit all stakeholders. His worry was how to do that given that he was a novice, even though he was well traveled and had taken three years of Mandarin in college. Tom's first step before traveling to China was to contact someone who had experience with both business and Chinese culture. He knew from his Mandarin studies that there were many pitfalls that could befuddle someone who did not understand the subtleties of Chinese society. Tom cared about not only the impression he made, but also about the company's effect on the Chinese.

Tom's coach had advised that the Chinese, especially in the north, still live by the teachings of Confucius. For this reason, Tom began reading to reacquaint himself with Confucian ideals. What occurred to Tom was he had better do a lot of listening. Communication would be essential in building trust, and trust was a cornerstone of building relationships upon which business agreements could be forged.

Tom had an edge on some people who take on foreign assignments because he was a leader who had developed a high level of self-awareness. Consciousness,or being mindful, is important when shifting between situations and in maintaining integrity. What Tom learned was that the more he focused on the present and less on a goal in the future, the better his relationship building went. He learned he could be charming and humorous and that these qualities served him well. He learned the importance of attending to details and following through on everything he promised. Most importantly, Tom learned to cultivate every interaction by attending to the person and their needs.

The differences between how American and Chinese businesses operate is striking, and the ability to manage ambiguity and appreciate the contrastsbetween cultures is an essential skill for leaders working across cultural contexts. The key to understanding these differences struck Tom as requiring patience and perseverance. He determined that one important building block in forging relationships with the local people in Shanghai would be solving interpersonal problems rather than problems of process and legality. To the Chinese, building a relationship is about building trust; it is not about money.

In China, every interaction between people is based on a relationship. The concept of guanxi, which literally means "relationship," is held as a primary value. In business relationships, guanxi takes on additional meaning, referring to the network of relationships forged over time, relationships built on reciprocity. The Chinese society is much more complex than most Westerners imagine, differing vastly across many regions. Customs, language, and norms of each region must be recognized and honored. The Westerner who assumes that she/he has mastered China by coming to a base level of understanding of one city could blunder seriously.

Negotiating a business expansion into a new country, especially for those leaders who physically move to that country, entails monumental change.Through Tom's work in learning about Chinese culture, building greater self-awareness, and living in the moment, he increased his ability to adapt and be flexible.

By the time Tom had finished assessing the expansion to China, he knew whatcapabilities he and the company needed to grow. While he was confident, he was always tuned into the context and open to growth. As the relationship grew, Tom determined that if the company was going to move forward with expansion, it could not be on an American timetable. Tom had once heard an expression in the American business lingo that said to "slow down to move fast," and he began to understand the wisdom of the saying related to his company's endeavors in China. The most important capabilities that Tom acquired were cultivating self-awareness, developing appreciation for and knowledge of another culture, forging deep interpersonal relationships, creating a vision for the long-term, and learning to assume nothing.

We developed the GeoleadershipTM Model based on our research into the competencies required for business leaders to be successful in intercultural business contexts. The seven dimensions of the model foster comprehensive preparation for global business ventures through cultivating similar, but heightened, skills to what has been taught in traditional leadership models. While most leadership models advise attention to communication, intercultural contexts require heightened listening skills. While most models advise leaders to acquire an ability to live with ambiguity, a much greater emphasis is needed when entering different cultures. Cultivating skill in all seven dimensions is how one leader, Tom Fontaine, brought his company to China with success.

 

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 1). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


1 International Labor Organization. 2004. World Employment Report. Geneva.
2 United Nations Human Development Report Office, 2004
3 Pedersen, P., & M. Connerley. 2005. Leadership in a Diverse and Multicultural Environment: Developing Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
4 Hall, E. T. 1976. Beyond Culture. Garden City, NY: Anchor.
5 Kroeber, A., & C. Kluckholn. 1985. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. New York: Random House.
6 Triandis, H. C. 1993. The Contingency Model in Cross-Cultural Perspective. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
7 Samovar, L. A., & R. E. Porter, eds. 2001. Communication between Cultures,4th ed. (1991). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
8 House, R. J., N. S. Wright, & R. N. Aditya, 1997. "Cross-Cultural Research on Organizational Leadership: A Critical Analysis and a Proposed Theory." In New Perspectives on International Industrial/Organizational Psychology, edited by P. C. Earley & M. Erez. San Francisco: New Lexington.
9 Hofstede, G., & G. J. Hofstede, 2004. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind, 2nd ed. (1996). New York: McGraw-Hill.
10 Shafritz, J. M., & J. S. Ott. 2000. Classics of Organization Theory, 5th ed. (1977). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt College.
11 Van Maanen, John. 1979. "Reclaiming Qualitative Methods for Organizational Research: A Preface." Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, December: 520-524.
1 Deal, Terrence E., & Allan A. Kennedy. 1982. Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life.  Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Dr. E.S. Wibbeke is the recognized management expert in how culture affects the bottom line. Dr. Wibbeke teaches Business Leadership courses at the University of Liverpool (UK) and Thunderbird School of Global Management (US), and holds a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership and an MBA in International Management. Dr. Wibbeke spent 20 years leading international projects at Fortune 500 firms, including 10 years in Silicon Valley. Dr. Wibbeke is author of Global Business Leadership (Elsevier, 2008), winner of the 2008 Best Business Book-San Diego Book Awards Association. Contact Dr. Wibbeke.

Dr. Cynthia Loubier-Ricca has been working as a consultant to individuals and organizations for the past 15 years. She regularly teaches courses in sociology, psychology, leadership, and research at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. She serves as a research mentor, dissertation chairperson, and dissertation committee member quite often. She has served as principal investigator or chairperson for various research or evaluative projects employing qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-design methodologies. Cynthia has conducted her own research using such methods as case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and quasi-experimentation. She holds doctoral, masters, and bachelor degrees in social science and business fields. Cynthia holds certification in conducting ethical research with human subjects (University of Miami), including international research and Internet-based research.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
27Sep/120

Working with Coaching Models: The U-Process

Coaching Models for Business Success

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

The U-process is sometimes known as the process of transition, and in the field of coaching this U-process is typically represented in Scharmer's model of change. In the process of transition, the client can move from anxiety, through happiness, fear, threat, guilt, denial, disillusionment, depression, gradual acceptance, and hostility to moving forward.

The U-process is considered a mid-range change theory with a sense of an emerging future. Scharmer's process moves the client through different levels of perception and change, with differing levels of action that follow. The three main elements are sensingpresencing, and realizing. These represent the three basic aspects of the U (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Scharmer's U-Process Model

Figure 1

This process helps the client to work at different levels of perception and change, and allows different levels of action to follow. All three levels are extensions of the learning process. As the coach and client move into the U, sensing is about observing and becoming one with the world; moving to the bottom of the U,presencing is about retreating and reflecting and allowing an inner knowing to emerge; moving out of the U, realizing is about acting swiftly and with a natural flow from the knowledge and understanding that have emerged.

The U-model suggests co-creation between the individual and the collective, i.e., the larger world. It is about the interconnection or integration of the self with the world. At the bottom of the U is the "inner gate" where we drop the baggage of our journey, going through a threshold. The metaphor used here is that of "death of the old self" and "rebirth of the new self"; the client emerges with a different sense of self. On the Web is a lovely dialogue between Wilber and Scharmer where they discuss the seven states and the three movements in this one process (Scharmer, 2003).

Superficial learning and change processes are shorter versions of the U-movement. In using this as a coaching process, the client moves downwards into the base of the U, moving from acting, to thinking, to feeling, to willing. This is to help the client to download with the coach, to let go and discover who they really are, to see from the deepest part of themselves, developing an awareness that is expanded with a shift in intention.

Otto Scharmer (2007), in an executive summary of his new book, Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges, describes the U-process as five movements: co-initiating, co-sensing, presencing, co-creating, and co-evolving. Scharmer describes this as moving "first into intimate connection with the world and to a place of inner knowing that can emerge from within, followed by bringing forth the new, which entails discovering the future by doing." The following case study demonstrates the five-step process.

Figure 2: U-Process Case Study

Figure 2

Case Study: The Global Convention on Coaching (GCC)

From July 2007 until July 2008, I played a role as Chair of the GCC Working Group, Research Agenda for Development of the Field, and Carol Kauffman took the part of Facilitator. The GCC was originally established to create a collaborative dialogue for all stakeholders in coaching worldwide, with the ultimate aim of professionalizing the industry. Nine initial working groups were formed by the GCC's Steering Committee to discuss critical issues related to the professionalization of coaching, producing "white papers" on the current realities and possible future scenarios of these issues. These white papers were presented at the GCC's Dublin convention in July 2008. Using the U-process model, this case study summarizes the working group process of the research agenda, which comprised a 12-month online dialogue, with the addition of monthly telephone conversations.

1. Co-initiation

Co-initiating is about building common intent, stopping and listening to others and to what life calls you to do. In the Working Group for the Research Agenda, the group built common intent by first setting up the group, defining its purpose, and beginning to discuss the dialogue process. It was agreed that the chair and facilitator would invite specific individuals to join the working group, and those members would suggest other individuals who might have a key interest in the research agenda for the field (i.e., the emerging coaching profession). The group began their online dialogue, once all had accepted the invitation and received instructions on how to use the online GCC web forum. It was agreed that there would be three communities working together: the Working Group, the Consultative Body for the Research Agenda, and the Steering Committee, which was responsible for the leadership and management of the other groups.

2. Co-sensing

Observe, Observe, Observe. Go to the places of most potential and listen with your mind and heart wide open. The chair and the facilitator of the working group had to learn to co-facilitate, observing each other's skill and competence. They had to be willing to listen to each other, noting each other's style in facilitating an online dialogue. They needed to create the group, and to facilitate the way forward with the group, learning to take constructive criticism and appreciation from each other, guiding the group forward without being prescriptive. Both chair and facilitator agreed to co-chair the process, remaining mentally and emotionally open to each other's divergent opinions, ways of being, and styles of interpersonal communication, whether working with the group online or by phone.

3. Presencing

Connect to the source of inspiration and will. Go to the place of silence and allow the inner knowing to emerge. Each individual in the process reflected and regularly added their thoughts and feelings to the online forum. Debate, conflict, and agreement emerged—with chair and facilitator taking responsibility to keep the group on track without being prescriptive. The chair and facilitator each had to connect to their own individual source of inspiration and come together as one voice to guide the group.

4. Co-creating

Prototype the new with living examples to explore the future by doing. This entailed harnessing the energy of the working group to draft a current reality document of its online and tele-conference dialogues; this document was revised four times. The group brought in a facilitator for a second consultative body who entered that dialogue at stage 1 (co-initiating), but who, at the same time, entered the working group dialogue at stage 3 (presencing). Trying to move forward with their own working group process, yet move the consultative body from stage 1 to stage 2 (co-initiation to co-sensing), was a complex, parallel process. The chair and facilitator enlisted the help of an editor, Nick Wilkins, to manage the writing process of the white paper during the working group's co-creation (stage 4).

5. Co-evolving

Embody the new in ecosystems that facilitate seeing and acting from the whole. The final stage of the process was the physical gathering at the Dublin convention. This took place in three stages: pre-convention, convention, and post-convention (post-convention work has just begun). Several months prior to the convention, all nine working groups began to work together online and by telephone to share their own varied stages in the U-process; they learned from each other as they gathered momentum moving toward Dublin, which was to be the culmination of their year-long project. Some groups had lost participants during the 12 months through disagreement; others managed to harness the energy to move through each of the stages together. The three stages were:

  • Pre-convention: Preparation for the presentation of a white paper by nine committees; this was for their committee's current global reality and future possible scenarios for their topic, with the addition of a tenth committee four months prior to Dublin.
  • Convention: Physical presence, dialogue, and debate in Dublin with each of the working groups. This was paralleled with virtual online feedback on a daily basis from those not able to attend the convention (however, there were difficulties with this process which frustrated some who could not access the virtual dialogue during that week).
  • Post-convention: Continuation of the process with a new format. The work was to take place in diverse groups regionally and nation-wide to proceed to the next step: building the emerging profession of coaching. Post-convention, a Transitional Steering Group (TSG) has begun work to harness the energy of those wishing to continue. The new GCC sees its role as an organic one, continuing to facilitate a global dialogue, rather than forming another coaching organization. The TSG, with representatives from the USA, UK, Australia Argentina, Singapore, and South Africa, has designed a web-based networking platform for the 17,000 GCC members who have signed up to the Dublin Declaration on Coaching (GCC, 2008). Those wishing to take part in this ongoing worldwide dialogue can access it via the web at gccweb.ning.com. Preparations began for a convention in London, 9-10 July 2009.

This U-process is applicable to large innovation projects where the unfolding takes place over a long time (a year in this instance). The team composition in such projects  will change and adapt to some degree after each movement; in the GCC process, the Working Group for the Research Agenda  lost and added new members, whereas the Consultative Body was a looser entity with only certain members playing a strong role. This was a process of discovery, exploring the future by doing, thinking, and reflecting. As Scharmer explains, it facilitates an opening via "the tuning of three instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will" (Scharmer, 2007).

At any one time there were three U-process journeys taking place for the research agenda: within the working group, the working group interacting with the consultative body, and the working group interacting with the steering committee.

In Conclusion

Models offer a great sense of structure yet flexibility for the coach practitioner, but remember that simplicity is a prerequisite. In this series, I explore models from an experiential learning premise, as the client always brings his or her experience into the coaching conversation. The client's experience is underpinned by a range of factors, including gender, race, culture, education, life experience, and personality. In my next article, we will begin to explore the use of four quadrant models.

Note
This article is adapted from the author's Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009, Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources). Her book Business Coaching International will be published September 2009 by Karnac, London.

References

Global Convention on Coaching (GCC). (2008). Dublin Declaration on Coaching Including Appendices. Global Convention on Coaching. Dublin, 22 August.www.gsaec.org/pdf/Dublin_Declaration_Coaching_Appendices.pdf.

Scharmer, C.O. (2003). Mapping the Integral U: A Conversation between Ken Wilber and Otto Scharmer, Denver, CO, 17 September. Dialog on Leadership.  www.dialogonleadership.org/interviews/Wilber.shtml.

Scharmer, C.O. (2007). Addressing the Blind Spot of Our Time: An Executive Summary of the New Book by Otto Scharmer: Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emergeshttp://www.presencing.com/presencing-theoryu/theoryu.shtml.

Senge, P., Scharmer, C.O., Jaworski, J., and Flowers, B.S. (2005). Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
9Aug/120

Coaching Models for Business Success: The Nested-Levels Model

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

Coaching as an Experiential Learning Conversation

One of the core areas where coaches work with clients is that of learning. However, the conversation with your client centers on what is meaningful to them. If significance and relevance are to emerge from the coaching conversation, it doesn't matter what is relevant to you; it matters what is relevant to them. It is therefore important to be aware of your own assumptions about what the client needs.

If you are guiding, directing, and giving your clients all the information they need, it will be difficult for them to ever be free of you. It is helpful if the client embodies new learning personally and physiologically; you can't do their learning for them. What you do as a coach is to help them reconstruct their own thinking and feeling to gain perspective and become self-directed learners. At the end of each coaching session with my clients, we integrate their learning1 with the goals they have set, confirming what action, if any, they are committed to:

  1. Vision-Refine their vision: where is the client going?
  2. Strategy-Outline the strategy: how is the client going to achieve their vision?
  3. Outcomes-What are the specific outcomes that need to be accomplished in the next few weeks in order to work toward achieving the vision, putting the strategy into action?
  4. Learning-Help the client summarize what was gained from the session in order to help underline self-reflection, continuing to help the client understand that they are responsible for their own thinking, their own doing, and their own being.

Nested-Levels Model

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

This nested-levels model was developed by New Ventures West (Weiss, 2004), and introduces the concept of horizontal and vertical levels in coaching models. The nested model works first at the horizontal level of "doing," eventually moving into deeper "learning" one level down; reflecting about self, others, and experience at a third "ontological" level where new knowledge emerges about oneself and the world (Figure1).

In her article, Pam Weiss talks about the two different camps of coaches. In jest, I call them the New York versus the Los Angeles camp. The New York camp says, "I'm the expert, let me fix you," while the L.A. camp says, "You are perfect and whole and have all of your own answers." Joking aside, each of these camps comes up short, even though coaches often fall into one or the other. The role of coaching is actually about developing human beings. It is not really about "I have the expertise" versus "you already have all your own answers."

The Expert Approach

Contrary to what experts might think, clients are not broken and are not in need of fixing. Clients may be anxious, stressed, nervous, overworked, and even narcissistic—but they don't need fixing. They are mostly healthy human beings going about their jobs and lives, experiencing their own human difficulties. Your job as coach is to help the clients learn for themselves, so that when you are no longer walking alongside them, they have become "self-directed" learners (Harri-Augstein and Thomas, 1991) and do not need you anymore. The second view about "expertise" also has limitations. The role of expertise is that, as coach, you are an expert; but coaching is not about the coach giving all the answers; that tends to be the role of the consultant, i.e., to find solutions for the client.

The "You-Have-All-the-Answers" Approach

The "you have all the answers" assumption is partially true, but there are several limitations. The first one is that we all have blind spots, and it is your job as coach to help the client to identify their blind spots. Secondly, it's perhaps a bit of "mythical" thinking that the client has all of the answers already; the flip side of that argument is that, if it does not work out, the client assumes blame and fault. In other words, "If I have all the answers, I should be able to do it myself without help." If that is not the case, they could feel, "Oh dear, if I am not able to do it myself, then perhaps I'm a failure."

Both of these approaches are "horizontal," i.e., they skim the surface of the work you can do with the client. Both help people to maintain the lives they currently have. The expert "New York" approach helps the client to do it better, faster, and more efficiently, and the "Los Angeles" approach may withhold key insights and observations from the coach that could help build the client's awareness of their blind spots. What is important, rather than "fixing" the client, is the skill of "observation" on the part of the coach. There is no problem in helping the client to do it better, faster, or more efficiently—that is often what the organization hopes for in terms of performance improvement. However, it is important for the client to gain the learning they need to address blind spots and to build their own internal capacity and competence.

Learning Level

If you continue to help people accomplish tasks, achieve goals, and keep on "doing," they risk falling into the trap of being "busy" and possibly overwhelmed. They may not, however, necessarily get the "learning" they need to develop self-awareness and self-management. I know all too well about this trap of being excessively busy. If we keep "doing" without reflection, we eventually burn out. To keep individual executives performing better and better, they need to work at one level lower-at the level of learning. They need to learn how to "do the doing" better. As soon as an executive begins to work with a coach, they begin the possibility of working at one or two levels deeper.

As coach, you will be asking questions to help clients reflect, review, and gain useable knowledge from their experience. In the nested-levels model, the higher levels don't include the lower ones, but the lower levels include the higher ones. So we need to help clients address their purpose one level down, at the level of learning. At this level you may ask questions such as, "How are you doing? What are you doing? What are you feeling? How are your peers/colleagues experiencing you/this? What is and what isn't working? What is useful learning for you here? What needs to change and how?"

Ontological Levels-Being and Becoming

The third and fourth levels of the coaching intervention using this model are that ofwho the client is and who the client wishes to become in terms of thinking, feeling, and being. Your questions move from "what do they need to do" and "how do they need to do it" (doing), to "how does their style of learning impact on how they do what they do; what do they need to learn in order to improve thinking/behavior/feeling/performance/leadership" (learning); to questions about "what do they need to understand and acknowledge about themselves, who are they, how do they be who they are, and what needs to change (being and becoming)?"

So what assists people in getting things done? Above all, it is about clarifying goals, creating action steps, taking responsibility, and being accountable. In order to perform more effectively, we need to help clients shift down a gear to learn how to work with competence (a set of skills) rather than just learning a specific new skill.

Learning

Your job as coach is to help the client be open to possibilities of learning something new, and to help them relate to themselves and others at a deeper level. To use the nested-levels model, you could ask questions such as:

  1. What is it that your client(s) want to do? What is their aim or purpose in working with you?
  2. What do they need to learn in order to make the change? What in their thinking, feeling, and behavior needs to change in order to do the doing better? How can they use their own experience to learn what is needed?
  3. How do, and how will, their thoughts, feelings, and behavior impact on how they "be who they are" and "who is it that they want to become"? In this way, we work at horizontal and vertical levels. At the end of the day, the client's new attitudes, behaviors, motivations, and assumptions begin to impact positively on their own performance and their relationships with others.

Our aim with this model is to shift any limiting sense of who the client is so that they can interact and engage with the world in new ways. As clients begin to shift, it has an impact on others with whom they interact in the workplace. It also means addressing issues systemically, from a holistic perspective, whether those issues revolve around health, stress, anxiety, performance, or relationships with others. Our task as coaches is to widen the circle, enlarge the perspective of the client, and help them learn from their own experience how to reach their potential.

A great way to start any coaching intervention is to ask your clients to tell their life story. The coach begins to understand some of the current issues and presenting challenges, and begins to observe patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Because we work with Kolb's theory of "understanding experience in order to transform it into useable knowledge," this model helps us to determine the context in which the client operates, where individual and systemic problems may be occurring, and how organizational values and culture impact on individuals and teams. It is at this level that the coach's ability to observe, challenge, and ask appropriate questions can be most transformational.

In Conclusion

Coaching models help us understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective, analyzing the "structure" of the interaction between coach and client. This series of articles takes a practical look at how coaching models are constructed, and how they can help you to flexibly structure the overall coaching journey as well as the individual coaching conversation with your business client. In my next article, we will explore the use of the U-process model, sometimes known as the "process of transition," typically represented in Scharmer's U-process.

This article is adapted from Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching (2009, Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources).Business Coaching International will be published mid 2009 by Karnac, London.

Resource Materials

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

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching. Johannesburg: Knowledge Resources.

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

Weiss, P. (2004). "The Three Levels of Coaching." Available at:http://www.newventureswest.com/three_levels.pdf.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


1 "Learning conversations" refers to research into learning conversations and self-organized learning, developed by S. Harri-Augstein and L.F. Thomas (1991:24).

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching(2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). More about Sunnyin the WABC member directory. Contact Sunny.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.