Privacy remains an important right. Yet in some ways, new laws may appear to hamper our ability to communicate with our intended audiences. Reminding our clients of our existence and building relationships through communicating, on a regular basis, is key to the successful running of our businesses. So how are new laws going to dampen the way we operate?
This is a huge topic and I was pleased to see how Gary Eckstein has taken the lead in clarifying and simplifying the impact of legal changes for Small and Medium Businesses. In this article, ‘Here’s how the new spam laws could benefit SME’s’, published August 8 2019, his focus is on small businesses in Australia because that is the target audience of SmartCompany, the reputable magazine for which he has written this article. However, his content applies to a far wider range and is authentic as he substantiates his argument with clear evidence.
In addition, on Sunday August 11, in Let’s Talk Business, 1 million listeners on Australia’s most widely listened to radio stations (2GB (Sydney), 3AW (Melbourne), 4BC (Brisbane), 2CC (Canberra) and 6PR (Perth)) listened to the broadcast in which Gary was interviewed. Regarded by Mailchimp as one of their ‘experts’ Gary’s academic background (Master's degree from Henley-on-Thames where his research thesis was on e-marketing) and practical experience in business consulting and training combine to make him a sought after trainer and speaker at business gatherings and at universities.
Above are just two examples of how he shares his expertise and how his advice is sought. Visit his website and gain further valuable information.
My questions for you are:
• What are you doing to connect with the international experts in fields which affect your business?
• How can you adapt the valuable advice given in Gary’s article and broadcast to suit your needs?
• What is the most significant message relevant to your situation?
For more information on e-marketing and Mailchimp training please contact Gary via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.organicweb.com.au. Please remember to scroll to the bottom to see the video of his recent lecture at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
For more information on executive coaching, mentoring or personal strategy, please contact email@example.com
As a tribute to the wonderful, vibrant JvB, affectionately known as ‘the Traffic Guy’, I am republishing an article which I wrote in 2013. The article below first appeared on my website on February 27, 2013. It was later adapted and included in my book, ‘GROW: How to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones’, published in 2017 and still available on Amazon.
Johann was a legend and his legacy lives on through the thousands that benefitted from his wise counsel, warmth and kindness. An ex-police-officer, he was a man of conviction who inspired people to do what was ethical. He graciously shared his wisdom and knowledge, encouraging people to be the best that they could be. I was privileged to participate in many of his public seminars and take part in his advanced driving courses.
As East Coast Radio’s ‘Traffic Guy’ for more than 30 years, he became well-known throughout the province. He reported and shared information on the state of our roads at regular times during the day. He warned his audience about traffic jams, accidents and road closures, advising of preferable routes. Listeners waited eagerly for his next announcements as he lightened up any situation with his wonderful, wicked sense of humour. Others knew him personally through attending his talks or going on courses where he and his teams promoted safe driving through his driving school. He had a huge impact on the standards of driving in our province and we are extremely grateful for the many ways in which he enriched our lives.
Johan was gentleman and role model. He was a popular man who was dearly loved. He died last week and will be sadly missed – but his legacy lives on. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Life is an exciting journey and you can choose to be a passenger or drive your own vehicle. Which is your preferred way of functioning? And if you are in the driver’s seat, how defensively do you function? This is important in any place that you are ‘on the road’. However, in South Africa where the accident rate and hi-jacking rate are unfortunately exceptionally high, we need to pay even more attention to reducing risk.
Recently at one of our Sunday Breakfast Club meetings held at the auspicious Oyster Box Hotel at Umhlanga, we were privileged to have East Coast Radio’s, ‘Trafficguy’, Johann von Bargen as our guest-speaker. Affectionately known as ‘JvB’, he emphasised lessons and showed us practical ways of minimising risk.
By combining his unique experience in the ‘Police Force’ and practical day-to-day knowledge working with traffic and mishaps, using humour he painted vivid ‘word pictures’ and regaled us with stories, each of which had a powerful lesson. His teachings provide excellent metaphors for reducing risks as we travel the journey of life. Let’s look at just a few of those covered:
1. The risk of separation
In discussing ‘anti hi-jacking techniques’, JvB asked us to distinguish between ‘theft’ and ‘hijacking’. Do you know the difference? He explained that technically, ‘hijacking’ is where the thieves separate you from your car’. The next question becomes: what can I do to minimise the risk of this happening to me?
In life, our adaption to others’ expectations often robs us of being our ‘authentic selves’. Our real selves and the ‘person we have become’ are separated. We sometimes no longer feel ‘whole’. So, what can we do to make ourselves more aware of what we are doing and minimise the risk of losing our true identity? ‘Executive Coaching’ can play an effective and important role in ‘getting us back on the road’.
2. Respond rather than react
‘Traffic Guy’ warned us that if we were in the process of being hijacked that we should not ‘fight with the hijackers’. That sounds obvious. These guys have guns and could use them. JvB warned, ‘these guys react to you in the way that you interact with them’.
Isn’t that true in most aspects of our lives? In highly emotional situations, if we can pause, step back and respond (rather than react) we have a far higher chance of getting out of these difficult circumstances. Practice in these techniques is an important part of our ‘executive coaching’ programmes.
3. ‘Think like a hijacker’
JvB asked a simple question: what do hi-jackers really want? Most of us failed that question because our automatic answer was ‘my car’. No, that is not what the hi-jackers really want. Occasionally they may need a ‘getaway car’, but in most cases their goal is ‘money’. They want to get rid of the car as quickly as possible and convert it to cash.
So, what information are we unknowingly providing to hi-jackers? What patterns of behaviour do we perpetuate? For example, do we always leave home at the same time, follow the same route, and arrive at the office at the same time each day? How predictable are we? In doing this we are providing observable information that hi-jackers can quickly and easily use to their advantage.
By consciously breaking patterns we make ourselves less vulnerable (to those with negative intentions). If we want to reduce the risk of being hi-jacked we should consciously be aware of our behaviour and purposely change our patterns.
So, what is it that others really want from us? If we know what they want and how they think, we can adapt our behaviour to reduce the risk of misfortune. How do we consciously ‘tune in’ to their needs and consider the way they are thinking? Understanding and not presuming that others needs are the same as ours goes a long way in reducing risk.
4. Look far ahead and be pro-active
By ‘far ahead’ JvB is not talking about only as far as two cars in front of us. The emphasis is on distance. The further we project our vision, the more likely we are to be able to observe, interpret and take appropriate action. Timing is important.
In addition, I like to help clients to look at peripheral vision. What is happening ahead, behind, to the left to the right, above and below? Again, this metaphor can be used in ‘driving our lives’. For example, ‘above’ and ‘below’ can apply literally or in our families, to different generations. In our work lives, it could refer to levels of management in large organisations. Are we alert to what might be happening? This links to ‘Who moved my cheese’ and the principle, ‘smell the cheese often’. What changes are there. What might be happening?
In coaching we provide simple ‘self-observations’ and ‘practices’ that help to ‘look beyond’ and take appropriate action. What might be happening beyond our ‘normal’ comfort zones? We need to constantly ‘scan the environment so that we can minimize threats and maximise opportunities.
5. Keep moving
Further advice given by JvB was ‘keep moving’. If we are moving, especially at high-crime intersections, we are less of a target than those who are stationery. The statistic that he gave was that by moving (instead of stopping) we have 97% less chance of being hi-jacked. An example that he gave was that if an individual were travelling at 20km per hour, no person ‘on foot’ would be able to hold a gun at their heads. And a large percentage of hi-jackers are on foot.
In addition, easing up slowly to an intersection where the traffic-light is red means that we spend less time in a dangerous area. By looking far ahead and pacing our driving we can arrive at the intersection when the light is green, or even spend less time at the intersection. By proceeding without stopping we reduce our risk enormously.
So, how do we apply this metaphor to ‘driving our lives’? The more we fully understand dangers and the more we consciously modify behaviour to minimize potential risk, the more likely we are to proceed without incidents.
6. Stop at a safe distance
Stopping too late or in a dangerous area can have severe consequences. This may sound like an unnecessary warning? But embroidered with Johann's real-life examples, it is an important lesson.
How often do we, hampered by diverted attention come to a halt too late? And this applies in all aspects of our lives. Focus is important. We need to find the balance and still take the risks necessary for us to grow. Stagnation results if we spend too long in our ‘comfort zones’. Yet we need to be aware and consciously stop before it is too late.
7. Reverse park
This is an interesting lesson. I have found that in countries like Australia, where the risk is much lower than here, people are much more likely to ‘reverse park’ than in this country where we need to do this as a matter of habit. The advantages are enormous and Johann explored the advantages and possible barriers to our doing this.
So, how does this lesson apply in other areas of our lives? If we are facing the right way at the start of a journey, we have a ‘head-start’ on those who need to manoeuvre to get going. Think of the time and effort it takes to first reverse, turn your car and then get going. Always reverse park and you’ll be able to have a clean start in the journeys ahead.
These are just a few of the profound lessons shared by Johann and I’m grateful for the role he plays in making this world a safer place for everyone.
How can you take the ‘lessons in anti-hijacking’ and use these as metaphors for improving the way you cope with challenges in your life?
For further information on Executive Coaching, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.strategy-leadership.com
• Who might the hi-jackers in your life be?
• What do they want from you?
• When and where are they most likely to attack?
• How can you avoid being ambushed by them?
• Which techniques above are most likely to give a safer passage as you journey through life?
Life is a continuum. However, often at this time of the year, we start considering our New Year’s resolutions in order to build a brighter future. But, how often do people follow through on these intentions?
While I wholeheartedly support developing carefully thought-out personal strategy, I believe that we often neglect plans for implementing and sustaining our goals. In addition, we tend to concentrate on what we need to start doing. For example, we may decide that we should start spending an hour at the gym five times a week. However, we might be doomed for failure because we do not have the capacity to start this new activity unless we stop doing something else.
In addition, complacency can be a stumbling block. While we plan what we wish to concurrently start and stop doing, we also need to remind ourselves to continue doing the things that energise us, bring us joy and help us to grow. These may include everyday experiences which are important to us. For example I was intrigued reflecting on the following glimpses of my life:
The above photo, taken by my daughter, Lara, in December 2018, shows me with my special Grand-dog, Harps. We were on one of my favourite walks in Manly, New South Wales, Australia. Here you can see us at a great coffee shop in one of the alleys. The backdrop is colourful street-art. Because there is pavement seating, Harps is allowed to be at the table with us. So this outing combined my love of family, dogs, walking, being next to the sea, vibrant colours, appreciation of creativity and beauty and interest in the world around me.
I was reminded of another similar joyous occasion many years ago. I smiled when I looked at the photo below as it brought back memories of one of the other many important dogs in our lives.
The above photo was taken in January 1969, fifty years ago. Let me set the scene: three days before our wedding, Ed’s brother Roy surprised us, knowing how much we love dogs. Our wedding gift was a miniature poodle puppy! Antoine Comte de Kintia (simply known as Toni) was precious. How could we not include him as the guest-of-honour at our wedding? Here, at the wedding ceremony, he is held by my father, Campbell.
Dogs are an integral part of our lives. Although we leave our own dogs at home when we travel, there are always opportunities where we can enjoy other people’s dogs. Above, in January 2018, my husband Ed is seen with Kevin and Gavin’s Bella at Hout Bay, Western Cape, South Africa where we were holidaying.
These are examples of incorporating experiences that bring out the best in me, energising me and enabling me to confidently pursue my personal strategy. I encourage you to do the same. Have a visible list of your ‘touchstones’, those sights, sounds, smells, tastes and experiences that help you to feel your best. Incorporating these on a regular basis will help you to feel good, be energised and enable you to stretch yourselves in working towards your vision.
My questions for you are:
- Just as dogs are a theme running through my life, what positive recurring themes are there in your life?
- In which ways do you consciously develop tactics for incorporating the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that bring out the best in you?
- What are you doing to ensure that you continue doing all the things that energise you?
- How can you use positive energy to build your confidence to tackle the more difficult aspects of your personal strategy?
For more information on personal strategy and executive coaching programmes, please contact Brenda at email@example.com
I first published this article a year ago and the feedback was great. So I have decided to share a slightly modified version.
Life is full of countdowns. We prepare for events or calendar dates that will make a numerical or biblical difference to our lives. Children, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a certain date, are often encouraged to count the number of ‘sleeps’ until the event, whether the event be leaving to go on holiday, celebrating their birthday or the arrival of an important person. Anticipation and conscious or unconscious countdowns usually go hand-in-hand.
A significant event for many in the Western world is Christmas, marked on our calendars as December 25th. In the ‘run up’ (or shall we rather refer to it as ‘countdown’) to that date, a popular tradition, again presumably to capture the attention of children, is the counting of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. I was fascinated to read that the counting should start on Christmas Day. It wouldn’t be nearly as exciting for children to begin counting the days only once they have received their presents! Another intriguing fact is that there are hidden meanings to each of the elements in the song starting ‘On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…’.
In general, in the Western world, once the commercial and family frenzy of Christmas have passed, adults tend to focus on the lead up to New Year. Most of us have an array of ‘new years’ in our lives, marked by various religious observances and holidays or a birthday which also results in a new numerical age for us. A ‘new year’ can also come with a change in status, for example, the transition to being legally responsible, retirement age or becoming a ‘pensioner’.
But not many are linked to ‘resolutions’ the way it is expected that people should make ‘new year resolutions’. In my opinion, few people actually enact their stated intentions, whether they be promises to themselves or to others. I’m advocating that people rather first reflect on their past, make meaning out of their reflections and then decide on possible actions.
In order to make this reflection exercise more fun, I have crafted a countdown. It is intended as a means of transitioning to a better ‘way of being’ in 2019. To help you, here are my suggestions and questions. Please list the:
• 12 top achievements in your life
• 11 people who have helped you to achieve
• 10 biggest challenges you have ever faced
• 9 learnings from these challenges
• 8 activities and experiences that energise you
• 7 people you’ll avoid because you find them toxic
• 6 things you need to continue doing
• 5 activities or thoughts you should avoid or minimise
• 4 new undertakings or practices you have space to start engaging in
• 3 things you’ll do differently in 2019
• 2 plans for big celebrations during the year ahead
• 1 way in which you will honour the most important person in your life…yourself!
Further questions for you are:
How will you:
• minimise negative influences and habits
• energise yourself through engaging more in those activities and experiences that have a positive influence on you?
May 2019 be a year filled with good health, great happiness, peace and prosperity. Oh, and have loads of fun doing the things that energise you!
For more information on Executive Coaching or other programmes offered by Brenda Eckstein International, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.strategy-leadership.com
People continue to enrich my life. Recently I was interviewed by the amazing Michelle Pascoe of Optimum Operating Procedures and Services (OOPS!) who works mainly in the casino, gaming and hospitality industries in Australia and elsewhere.
Michelle and I became friends a number of years ago through our mutual membership of the Sydney Chapter of the National Speakers Association of Australia (NSAA) which later became Professional Speakers Australia (PSA). Over the years we have shared many wonderful conversations as our fields of interest and work are intertwined.
My recent interview formed part of Michelle’s Middle Management Movement (M3) series and can be accessed here. She describes the topic as my “tips on how to find and choose the right coach to inspire you to achieve your full potential and sustain your well-being”. The title of the interview was “Choosing the Right Executive Coach” an area of great interest to me. When a good interviewer, like Michelle, sets the scene and asks you the right questions, you discover that you can add value. So please listen to the recording and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!
The building of relationships is an ongoing process. What are you doing to move away from a transactional approach (meeting a person for the first time and holding a conversation) to following up and building the relationship so that you can help each other? Nurture your friendships, hold quality conversations, explore common ground and you will be able to recognise and optimise opportunities for each other.
My questions for you are:
- What are you doing to network with like-minded people?
- How are you improving the quality of your conversations?
- How can you include someone else in a combined effort?
For more information on leadership development, improving your networking or Executive Coaching please contact Brenda on +27 82 4993311 or email@example.com Thank you!
When engaging the services of a coach, there is often confusion over the level of coaching needed. A general rule of thumb is that there are three levels of coaching and these correspond roughly to the depth of training the coach should have in order to coach the client at a certain level and in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Although based primarily on Integral Coaching, these rough guidelines may be useful in considering other forms of coaching.
Spontaneous coaching is used where the coachee has an immediate issue that they need to address. In other words, this is appropriate where a ‘quick fix’ is required. One or two coaching sessions may help the person find solutions which will get them over an immediate hurdle. This is contracted between coach and client ‘up front’ before the start of the programme.
A minimum of a short coaching course at an accredited organisation may qualify a coach to deal with issues like this. I have found it interesting that even when coaches are qualifying at higher levels, in their practical exams, they are usually tested in spontaneous coaching. This is a matter of practicality as usually a maximum of an hour can be allocated to this part of the practical exam.
Sometimes as the coaching proceeds through the agreed spontaneous coaching conversations, both coach and client realise that the coachee would benefit through a more intense coaching programme. If this is being considered, this new programme would be contracted as a separate programme either with the same coach, if they are qualified to work at a deeper level, or with a new coach.
Competency-based coaching helps coachees to become more competent at managing their lives whether it be their roles at work or in their private capacities. Here typically a 3-month coaching programme would be contracted where coach and coachee meet every second week for an hour. The coach helps the client, through reflection and practice, to build new neural pathways and thus become more competent.
I recommend that the coach engaged in this type of coaching should have successfully completed a training course of at least 6-months – again at a reputable institution. Coaches trained at this level will also be effective at spontaneous coaching.
The next level of coaching is where a fundamental shift in the person’s ‘way of being’ is sought in order to help them flourish in their occupational and private capacities. The required outcome would be the person viewing the world differently through enhanced awareness and ability to develop new neural pathways thus embedding their new practices. This takes time and usually at least a six-month programme seeing the coach for an hour every second week is needed. In addition, the coachee needs to be committed to changing themselves and diligently practice assignments crafted together by coach and coachee. Outcomes include being able to self-correct and self-generate.
In this realm there are no ‘quick fixes’ neither for the coachee nor the coach. A programme like this requires that the coach has a deeper level of training, ideally spanning about 2 years at university post-graduate level, or other highly regarded institution. Coaches qualified at this level are competent to coach at lower levels, too. In other words, they are capable of doing Competency-based and Spontaneous coaching.
The converse does not apply. Professional coaches with insufficient training should not be working in higher levels of coaching. In other words, a coach trained to deal only with spontaneous issues should not attempt to work with someone requiring a shift in their way of being. After all, we are working with people’s lives! Similarly a General Practitioner would not practice complex spinal surgery.
Of course, the above are general guidelines. There are many permutations of these levels. However, no coach should ever go beyond their level of training and competence. Professional coaches will also refer clients to appropriate outside professionals in other fields, like counselling, when this seems necessary and they will not try to handle issues beyond their scope, or situations outside the realm of their competence, training and experience.
Furthermore, to call themselves a coach, a person should have gone through training as a coach and be qualified in that field. So let’s look at the definition of professional coaching and here I’m using the International Coach Federation (ICF) definition which is fairly generic, covering a wide range of coaching approaches:
ICF defines coaching as ‘partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential’.
No matter how highly qualified in other fields such as psychotherapy, counselling, mentoring or consulting, if engaged in a coaching role, the coach should respect those boundaries and stick to their role as a coach. I have personally found that in working with or mentoring emerging coaches-in-training, the ones who battle most with developing their coaching skills are often those who are qualified in other fields such as counselling.
In brief, make sure you engage the right coach whom you know is qualified and will provide a professional service in line with your requirements. You are more likely to gain positive outcomes, often way beyond your expectations!
For more information on leadership development or executive coaching, please contact Brenda personally at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +27 82 4993311
There is a strong international move to professionalise the coaching industry and I fully support this approach. We want to make sure that consumers, instead of just buying ‘coaching’ as a ‘nice to have’ commodity, will consider ways of ensuring that they are gaining a professional service and value for money. Those who engage coaches – and particularly executive coaches - would benefit through being more confident as to what to expect. Coaches need to make sure they have earned the right to offer the service that they promise to provide. Currently there are too many grey areas and no real barriers to entry.
Often organisations or individuals invest in coaching without knowing what questions to ask the coach before engagement. There are many variables to be considered. I have outlined a few of the watchpoints which may lead to more successful outcomes. My questions should not be considered as a comprehensive list as many of them will be dependent on the context. So rather consider the list below as a starting point for developing your own approach, whether you are a Human Resources (HR) or Learning and Development (L & D) professional or an individual interesting in being coached. Coaches might consider this useful in creating awareness as they should be able to answer these questions without hesitation.
The suggestions below are based on my own experience as an executive coach, through mentoring emerging coaches engaged in post-graduate studies at various universities and through my own academic studies.
1. When contemplating engaging an executive coach, the first question to consider is whether the candidate really needs coaching or would benefit more through counselling, mentoring, consulting or other approaches? Would another modality better match the person’s needs? Is their manager trying to delegate their managerial responsibilities to an external coach? Where does the coaching need truly lie?
2. If it has been established that coaching is the right path to follow in order to address certain issues, the next question is which coaching approach would be most suitable? Bearing in mind that there is lack of clarity in defining types of coaching, examples might be leadership, executive, integral, performance, neuro-based coaching, or a combination.
There has been a shift over the last few years in the reasons for engaging coaches. International surveys show that while coaches were engaged mainly for corrective reasons ten years ago, now leadership development has become the primary purpose for engaging coaches. Thus coaching should not be viewed as punitive or something that is inflicted on some-one who is not performing, but rather as a way in which to enable individuals to become more productive and flourish. Most coaches nowadays use a strengths-based approach helping people to use their natural strengths and find their own solutions and in so doing, enhance their capabilities. An added advantage is their being able to confirm that they use and evidence-based approach.
3. How committed and open is the person to being coached? Are they prepared to uncover blind spots and build new neural pathways in order to become more productive? Are they prepared to put effort into seeing things differently, changing and finding new solutions for themselves?
4. The big question: Even if this person would benefit through coaching, and the right kind of coaching is being offered, are you sure that the coach being considered is the right coach for this candidate at this time? There needs to be synergy, relationship and trust and the candidate needs to be eager to engage in a coaching programme with this coach at this time.
5. Professional coaches are bound by a Code of Ethics and this varies according to the coaching organisation to which they belong and through which they are accredited. The candidate needs to have had sight of this document and be comfortable regarding the coach adhering to this code and be prepared to work within this framework.
6. Would the format of the proposed coaching programme suit the needs of the organisation and candidate? There are many factors to consider. For example I offer only a six-month programme with one-hour sessions (at flexible times) two weeks apart. The organisation or client may not wish to engage in a programme of that length. These sessions may either be in-person or via Skype (or other electronic means). A person may prefer ‘in person’ sessions and this may not be possible if the client and coach are in different geographic regions. In addition, my programme includes 10-15 minute assignments each day and the potential client may not be prepared to commit to that. The price is also a factor under consideration.
Those first six points can more easily be considered after a ‘chemistry session’ has taken place. Most reputable coaches will offer a complimentary compatibility check session where potential coach and coachee meet for an hour to build relationship and explore possibilities. This ‘contracting’ between the coach and participant at the outset of a programme is vital to establish expectations and agree the way the coach and coachee will work together.
7. In addition, specific questions should be asked regarding the credibility, professional qualifications and experience of the coach. You might find this table useful although not all questions will be relevant on all occasions:
In explaining why these questions are relevant the following may be useful background information:
a. Their being credentialed either through the International Coach Federation (ICF) or Coaches, Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA) or other reputable coaching body is important because it is more likely to ensure professional standards.
b. There are various levels of credentialing, e.g. ACC, PCC, Master Coach. The more experienced a coach, the more likely they are to have a higher level of credentialing. (But this is not always a true reflection of the person’s capability.) And please ask them to provide proof. Often, although coaches might be members, they are not actually credentialed.
c. It is important that they have kept their credentialing current. This will mean that they have not become complacent and they continue to develop themselves and keep up to date in line with the requirements of that qualification.
d. There is an overabundance of organisations offering training to coaches. Knowing about the institute through which they trained does give an indication of the thoroughness of their training as some organisations promise unrealistic outcomes and do not breed quality coaches.
e. Even within one training organisation, more than one coach-training course is likely to be offered. Some of these courses are more intense than others or address different types or levels of coaching e.g. life coaching versus executive or leadership coaching.
f. These courses vary in duration, too and cover different models, tools and techniques.
g. Approaches to coaching change over time and good courses continuously improve. So it is a good idea to find out how long ago the coach completed their course. If they are credentialed, keeping up to date will be a requirement, but if not, ask what they are doing to keep abreast of changes.
h. Coaches may qualify in an approach using models and techniques underpinned by specific philosophies. In some courses, such as the University of Stellenbosch Business School M Phil (management coaching) course, students develop their own coaching models based on strong theoretical foundations. However, even these evolve over time. I know mine has! Coaches may branch out into a different realm, too. For example they may shift from life coaching to management coaching.
i. Even highly qualified coaches may not spend many hours a week gaining more coaching experience. Although they might have been coaching for years, many coaches do not engage for more than a few hours a week in individual coaching. International surveys show that most coaches are involved in other activities as well, for example training. How much experience does the coach really have?
j. Group coaching has gained in effectiveness and although not relevant if you are engaging a coach in one-on-one coaching, a coach’s understanding of and involvement in group coaching is an indication of their current active involvement in coaching.
k. Building up coaching hours is important as their total number of coaching hours is an indication of experience. Many coaches qualify and then do not consistently spend time coaching.
l. Although for reasons of confidentiality a coach may not be able to divulge the name of coaches or client organisations, they may nevertheless be able to provide a reference to attest to their coaching capability. Which areas do they concentrate on? For example, I am an executive coach and most of my clients are leaders. Many of these are in professions in fields such as law and accounting.
m. Academic experience alone does not necessarily convert to quality coaching. Experience in an organisational environment adds to the coach’s capability especially if being engaged as an executive coach.
n. I believe that coaches who are bound by Codes of Ethics such as ICF or COMENSA should provide the relevant Code of Ethics to the organisational representative and to the coachee before the start of the programme.
8. Initially be clear on the desired outcomes in order to address the issue facing the candidate. These outcomes may change or gain more substance during the coaching programme, particularly during a longer programme, thus remaining flexible is also important. For example, a risk and safety manager came to me for coaching with his main issue stated as ‘no one listens to me’. We restated this as ‘I can’t get people to listen to me’. In his position it was important that people took immediate action once he had given a message. As the coaching proceeded and he became more aware of his cognitive functioning, we realised that his issue was procrastination. He didn’t deliver his message timeously or confidently and the staff would wait for him to repeat the message. So we established his main issue as procrastination which permeated through his entire ‘way of being’ affecting work and personal domains. Working on procrastination, we were able to shift his fundamental approach and enable him to flourish.
9. An important issue is how the coach will deal with ‘duality of client’. Where an organisation is offering to sponsor a candidate in a coaching programme, the coach needs to consider what outcomes the organisation (or sponsor) anticipates and separately what the individual (from here onwards referred to as the coachee) considers their needs to be. Thus in a situation like this, the coach should take into account the needs of the two clients, the organisation/sponsor and the coachee. What are the organisation’s/sponsor’s expectations and what does the coachee need to gain through a coaching programme? We all have blind spots so the coach will need to assess what the coachee’s issues are, despite what they might verbalise their issues to be. And thus sometimes, the goal of the coaching may shift as the coachee and coach build stronger relationships and as the programme progresses.
10. Before the start of the coaching programme, a meeting between the organisational representative, coach and coachee should take place to agree areas such as reporting dates, format of what is to be covered in the reports, how they should take place (e.g. in person, via Skype) and to whom reports should be directed. This contracting prior to the start of the programme is essential. I have found that in addition to the organisational representative, coach and client, various other stakeholders are sometimes included. Last year I was coaching an executive where two report-back sessions were planned where five were present and they were based in four different countries. And that worked perfectly because it was planned in advance.
11. What reporting system will both the organisation’s representative and coachee be comfortable with in order for the coach to report progress? This again affects the element of ‘duality of client’. There has to be trust between all parties. I advocate that it is agreed ‘upfront’ that neither reporting nor discussion between coach and organisational representative will take place without the coachee being included. I also believe that it is best practice to confirm, in advance, that the coach will always advise the coachee what he or she intends saying at that meeting or in the report. Where reporting is in writing, it should be agreed that the coachee be copied on all communication at that time (and not afterwards).
In summary: would this person benefit through coaching, what kind of coaching would be most suitable and is the coach being considered sufficiently qualified and experienced and the right person to coach this individual? Does the programme being offered match the needs of the organisation and the individual? Has the contracting been adequately dealt with?
The above is my understanding of some of the issues which HR Directors, L&D Managers, individual clients, or others face when considering including coaching as a form of development.
I encourage you to ask the right questions in order to match the right coach with your requirements. If you need any help please let me know and I’ll gladly help to clarify issues with you.
This is the first of two articles regarding the engagement of a coach. Next we’ll explores levels of coaching which are perhaps most relevant to Integral Coaching but certainly provide insights for other types of coaching, too.
For more information on leadership development or executive coaching, please contact Brenda personally: email@example.com or phone +27 82 4993311
I smiled as I read Trip Advisor’s article on ‘Travellers’ Top Tips to Pack Smart’. Every one of these ideas could be considered as a metaphor for preparing ourselves for an optimal journey through the next phase of our lives, whether we are referring to next year or the rest of our lives.
How might this apply to our lives?
Many of us have lives that are far too cluttered and are carrying excess baggage whether physically or emotionally. These weigh us down and deplete our energy. How do we trim down, keep just what is useful and helping us to lead better lives? And how do we carefully choose those new aspects that are fun and create adventure? Our cups soon start to overflow if we just keep adding. The new items spill out over the top. The process involves firstly clearing out excess. Then create space by stopping certain activities while being cognisant of continuing what is important and serving a purpose.
This tip also implies having spare resources to spend. As the facilitator of personal strategy, I find that when we talk of resources, individuals tend to think primarily in terms of financial resources. I assign an exercise which involves carefully considering various resources such as knowledge and access to information, skills, qualifications, personal branding, the use of personal attributes (character strengths, values, touchstones etc.), executive coaching, energy, people, networks and relationships, time, technology, transport, accommodation and many more resources.
I believe there is a parallel between the way we build, store and use the resources at our disposal and the way we can consciously build, store and use our energy in the best possible way.
How might this apply to our lives?
Not only is life moving at an accelerated pace but we are bombarded by more and more stimuli. This means that we need to take active steps to filter out what is not necessary at that time. How can we be mindful, focussed and living in the moment if we are distracted and overwhelmed by all that is going on around us? How do we selectively eliminate or reduce the effect of certain stimuli which may be unnecessary or negative at that time? We need rest so a metaphorical sleepmask could be very helpful in enabling us to filter out interfering stimuli relating to sight. The earmuffs could help us avoid hearing harassment and unnecessary sounds which are intruding on our presence.
The sleep mask and earplugs are useful in keeping out influences and stimuli which have a negative influence on our current ‘way of being’.
How might this apply to our lives?
Think of a suitcase as being the metaphor for the container of our lives.
We need to use our resources effectively and efficiently. To me, space is a resource and without space we can’t recognise or optimise opportunities.
But our lives are usually already very full. So how can we be more effective in packaging whatever we are fitting into our lives? How do we use least time and energy yet enhance the experience of whatever we do? How do we experiment in for example rolling rather than folding. How do we use disruption to our advantage? In my coaching programmes we introduce practices helping clients create space so that they can reflect productively or plan the future.
So what I’m saying here is ‘yes, we do need to fill up the gaps’ (like those when packing shoes) in a meaningful way. However, that will help to create space that we can use for productive purposes.
How might this apply to our lives?
We need to be more selective and discover items that have multiplicity of purpose. This again often requires a disruption to the way we have always unconsciously done things. How can we explore new ways of performing even the most mundane processes in our lives? In which ways can we find new uses for our existing items? For example, if I go to gym very early in the mornings, I am more likely to be able to watch sunrise on the way, take my dogs with me (they stay in the car so I can’t take them when it is too hot) and have my exercise completed before I start my workday. So there are many benefits.
How might this apply to our lives?
Often we feel overwhelmed because there is so much we need to do. Clustering similar activities or items could help us to feel more organised. Creating boundaries around them is also an important aspect of feeling ‘in control’. Some of us are better at doing this than others. What is within those boundaries is as important as what is not within, what is outside. We also need to make sure that the container is the right size and shape. And once we have become good at establishing those boundaries, how do we transfer that skill to other aspects of our lives?
How might this apply to our lives?
In order to focus on what is important on life’s journey or even parts of it, we need to remain focussed on what is important to us. It is easy to be distracted, especially when we are out of routine, in a strange place or embarking on a new journey.
Too often we are lulled into acceptance instead of choosing what is best for us. It is right for the masses, it isn’t necessarily right for us. Being pro-active and considering our options enables us to be more in tune with our own ‘way of being’.
How might this apply to our lives?
We spend our lives packing and unpacking. And it is good that we do that. However, reflecting on our actions helps us to create meaning. Through unpacking the experience and reflecting on it we can extract the essence, a simple lesson. And then we need to ask ourselves: How can I use this lesson in other fields in my life? What action should I take?
How might this apply to our lives?
The old adage, ‘sharing is caring’ applies in many aspects of our lives. Teamwork is important in so many areas. And here we can be referring to our partners, families or immediately team (both in our private or business lives). Or we could apply this to our broader network of relationships. We often forget the value of what others can add through sharing our space.
How might this apply to our lives?
In life we need energy for so many of our heart, head, spiritual, networking and other functions. Without it, action might be impeded. Connection to others gives us access to information, and assistance. This support enables us to use our own energy wisely.
How might this apply to our lives?
Stopping to record enables us to collect our thoughts and make the best possible use of information. Taking a photograph enables us to capture the moment and has great significance. In coaching programmes, where relevant, I often weave in a practice of daily pausing to take a photograph.
Use this tips in order to prepare yourself for a more successful life’s journey and you will flourish.
For more information on executive coaching, keynote speaking or training you are welcome to contact me - Phone: +27 33 3425432, Mobile: + 27 82 4993311, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week while attending the African Doctoral Academy at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape, South Africa I had many great insights which I’d like to share with you over the next few articles. These ‘aha moments’ occurred during an outstanding 5-day course, ‘The Productive PhD’ presented by Dr Sebastian Kernbach of the University of St Gallen, Switzerland. He also presents a similar course at Stanford University in the USA and other leading educational institutions globally.
This course covered fascinating, researched ways in which we can become more productive. I came away with a new ‘toolbox’ of simple and effective visualisation methods and ways of creating awareness of energy levels and using each state more productively. These topics are broad and in this article I focus only on creating awareness and using low-energy times more productively.
Our facilitator articulated and demonstrated his message clearly: we can be more productive through structuring our days according to our energy levels. Although his approach referred primarily to flourishing during a PhD, this approach would apply equally in most people’s business or professional lives, too.
In order to focus on the ‘lows’ let’s look at the pattern of an average day in most people’s lives:
Permission to use the above slide was kindly granted by Professor Kernbach
Professor Kernbach’s message was clear. We should not try to erase those times. The result would be lessening the energy level of our following prime or high-energy periods each of which usually lasts two to three hours. So we should rather engage in mental, emotional and physical activities found to be most effective during low-energy periods.
From a mental perspective, during these times we have better access to creative and holistic thinking and intuition. Emotionally we have an improved perception of our own moods and are more empathetic. Physically that is a good time to have a snack, exercise or take a cat-nap.
We were interested to hear that research has shown that this is not a beneficial time to drink coffee. For many of us, that was contrary to the way we instinctively have a cup of good, strong coffee (or other stimulant) to lift our energy. Does that sound familiar? Yet, evidently, although that will help us to feel more ‘awake’ during the low-energy time, it also reduces the level of the following ‘high’ thus not enabling us to take maximum advantage of the activities we could most productively engage in during those high-energy times. In other words, drinking coffee during a ‘low’ will mean that our low is not so low, but in addition, it will reduce the level of the following ‘high’. The coffee-drinking time most conducive to using our energy levels most productively is at the start of an upward curve in our energy cycle.
So how do you and I apply this information in a practical way? First let me show you what I discovered during the course. I’ll use my own example to demonstrate my ‘findings’ and this is the process I followed:
- I drew my own energy map showing my perceived energy levels on an average day. This can be seen in the black curve in the rough diagram below. Yes, I could easily show the alpha time, prime time and high time. And yes, my own main low lasted about 2 to 3 hours as did the two high-energy times.
- However, that was on an ‘average day’. But what would happen to my energy levels on a day, for want of a better term, I have called an ‘excited day’? So I drew the curve in green. There were significant differences. There I woke up earlier, eager to start on a project that inspired me. My energy was higher from a much earlier time and although there were variations, stayed higher in the evening, too.
- I was the determined to look at another kind of day, the days where I wake up exhausted and battle to get going. There my energy is lower all day and trails off in the evening. (Please see the red curve.)
By looking at three different ways in which I could divide the kinds of days I have (from an energy perspective) and superimposing those three simple graphs, it was astonishing to become aware that, regardless of the kind of day I’m experiencing, all three curves have a similar ‘low-energy’ period in common. This insight is profound as it means I should change my habits in order to take greater advantage of that time.
I went back to the drawing-board and explored the activities that I should allocate to those 2 or 3 hours in the middle of the day. One great insight was that this was the best time for me to attend to e-mails! To be most productive I should not allow this time-consuming activity to interrupt my higher-energy times which can be used more productively for other activities such as problem-solving or higher level strategy thinking.
It is taking a great amount of discipline to break my former habit of getting my e-mails out the way as early in the day as possible. However, I’m already experiencing the benefits. This has practical implications for the clients whom I coach. Most are high-level leaders in executive positions and resent the amount of time they need in order to attend to e-mails and do other routine tasks effectively. It reduces their time for more strategic activities. Thus, although this form of communication is highly effective, it may deplete our emotional energy.
In executive coaching programmes I have tried various tactics with different clients, crafting programmes to suit their needs. An example may be limiting their attending to e-mails to a specific blocked-off period on workdays. This time would be chosen to suit that person’s perceived needs. A few of the leaders have chosen 4pm to 6pm as the only time they allow themselves to look at or work on e-mails and this has benefitted them, but only in a limited fashion. However, it has helped to free the early part of the day for more strategic endeavours.
So, what is the relevance or significance of sharing this insight regarding my own energy levels? It means that, in order for anyone to maximise their low-energy periods, it would be an advantage for them to know when those times occur and plan to do routine admin tasks (including e-mails) or even have a cat-nap during those times. This would enhance the quality of the ensuing high-energy period.
Regardless of whether you are trying to be more productive in your academic endeavours, business or professional work, map your energy levels, plan your more routine tasks during low-energy periods and you will benefit through being more productive. Try it and let me know how you find this exercise. Thank you!
For more information on executive coaching programmes (conducted either ‘in person’ or via Skye – so location doesn’t matter!) or personal strategy, please contact email@example.com, Website: www.strategy-leadership.com
Please also visit Professor Kernbach’s websites in order to learn more about the work he does: https://mcm.unisg.ch/en/transfer/beratung/visual-collaboration-lab
Details of the July 2018 African Doctoral Academy Winter School will soon be available: http://www0.sun.ac.za/ada/
* The artist’s name has been changed in order to protect her identify. Poppy is not her real name. All other details are true.
As professional coaches we don’t usually coach family or friends and nor do we coach without permission. So, under normal circumstances I would not coach a person now aged 45 whom I had known since she was a little girl. I had been friendly with her parents at the time she graduated and then became a competent, successful and respected professional in her field. In addition, a prohibiting factor to me as a professional coach was that she had been disabled through Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and unable to work for the last 10 years. Her ongoing support falls in the domain of professional doctors and therapists.
However, visiting her home informally for the first time, I noticed a beautiful painting on an easel. I presumed that her mother, a professional artist, had painted the artistic portrait of her daughter. However, Poppy confided that she had painted the self-portrait and that this was the last of her own acrylic paintings, created more than 10 years ago, before MDD robbed her of the ability to paint. Prior to that she had loved painting.
I was dismayed that her incredible character strength of creativity should be wasted. As a professional strengths-based coach I know how important it is for us to energise ourselves through using our strengths. As I stood admiring the painting I spontaneously gently suggested that, to get her back to painting, she should try painting a portrait of my husband and me. (I was not coaching her, just encouraging her as a friend.)
Her face lit up as she immediately agreed. I stressed that she should use her artistic licence (do it her way!), that there was no obligation, no commitment to her ever completing it and there was no deadline. I just wanted her to pick up a paintbrush and start painting again. I had no expectation but I believed in her and in her ability to complete this task.
I provided her with a choice of photos as a starting point and wasn’t even sure which she had chosen. Twice during the six month period since that chance encounter she phoned to apologise that it was taking so long.
I wasn’t even sure that she had started painting! So, I’m not sure who was more excited, Poppy or me, when she phoned unexpectedly to tell me that the painting would be ready the next day. And it was! My husband and I are both overjoyed at the outcome. This work of art will remain a symbol of huge human endeavour and achievement and a reminder of the power of positive encouragement. She later confided that at times she had blocks and panic attacks and was not able to paint. The journey was extremely difficult. She said: ‘I had underestimated the enormity of the challenge and the extent to which my illness had deprived me of the ability to even pick up a paintbrush. Without your continued support, compassion and encouragement I would have been too overwhelmed to complete the task.’
I’m pleased to say that Poppy has motivated herself not only to paint again, but her stumbling block has become a stepping stone. She has already started on the next project!
Poppy has asked me to share her story and her letter of appreciation. We both hope that this will provide encouragement to others who are incapacitated through various mental illnesses.
From: xxx (her details have been purposely removed in order to protect her identity)
Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 7:08 PM
Subject: Reigniting the seemingly impossible ....
It has now been over 10 years since I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), an illness that stripped me of everything I once knew as my life; and most devastatingly my sense of "self".
Until recently, it would also be the last time I could bring myself to paint a canvas.
And then there was you ... And to me you are the heroine in this story. Your intuition and expertise in helping others ignite and reach their true potential is a gift.
Thank you for your patience, support and unfailing encouragement; and mostly for believing in me even though I couldn't.
For anyone who is interested in seeing your practice in results, I have attached a copy of the original photograph you gave me and my resultant artwork portrait.
Fondly and gratefully,
The photo which Poppy chose was taken by professional photographer, Karen Edwards in 2015.
The above photo provided the inspiration for Poppy who then used this as a starting point to create her artistic interpretation (seen below). You’ll notice she has included my love of vibrant colours and the Aboriginal influence relevant to our children living in Australia.
I feel emotional when considering the enormity of her achievement and feel very humble that she feels I played a part. It just happened that I was in the right place at the right time. That chance encounter opened doors for both of us. She has worked at regaining her ability to paint and achieved her goal in completing her first assignment.
However, I acknowledge that the wonderful work done by the team of professional doctors and therapists, combined with the support lovingly given by her close family provided the framework and enabled her to reach the stage where she was ‘open’ to my suggestion. On her part it also took great courage for her to accept that challenge.
Poppy did not need to discover her creative strength. She had lost the ability to apply that strength. I am deeply grateful that she has regained her dormant creative strength and that she is able to paint again. Using her strength brings her joy. I’m hoping that over time, the resulting energy from her sustained use of her creative strength will provide leverage and enable her to use her other strengths to even greater advantage. I look forward to watching her progress.
My message is clear: be open to noticing what is missing in other’s lives. Encourage them in a sincere way that is acceptable to them. Continue to ‘be there’ even remotely for the person. What may seem insignificant in the giver’s eyes can be life-changing to the receiver.
My questions for you are:
- How can you be more observant so that you notice others’ strengths?
- What can you do to help them change their stumbling blocks into stepping stones?
- How are you helping others to recognise and optimise opportunities?
- How are you sustaining support, even remotely, by continuing to encourage, even in small ways?
- In which ways are you introducing positive new beginnings into your own life?
For further information on keynote addresses, Executive Coaching or other services offered by Brenda Eckstein International, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org