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What are some of the key concerns executives come to you with in light of the current turbulent economic environment?

Turbulence is such a great word to describe the times we’re living in. Everything feels like it’s on a low boil, in constant motion with no clear idea of when or how it will settle. And while it’s uncomfortable, it’s also a perfect opportunity for executives to hone their deeper skills.

Business is all about managing uncertainty, but now executives are being asked to lead when nothing we’ve counted on feels certain. The current times are not just about economics. Leaders are being called on to lead in a climate of fear.

As a professional coach, I know that what you fear is what you create. If you’re afraid of uncertainty, you tend to create more chaos. Our brains are wired to go into reactive thinking when we‘re afraid. That’s when executive functioning can go offline, even for leaders. The result? Poor decision-making. Poor communication. Poor planning.

The leaders I work with know intuitively that empowerment – of themselves and their teams - is the key to navigating uncertainty. The driving idea is not to play victim to the uncertainty of our time, but rather, to lead forward. For my clients, this means creating focused, autonomous, resilient teams.

My clients all share the same concern. They want their team members to take initiative, be more self-directed and think critically about all that they do. They want them to think about how their actions move the mission of the organization forward, rather than operating in silos. They’re mentally flexible enough to operate in the detail and shift back to the larger picture. This pinging back and forth between detail and the big picture is the source of coherent action - and it’s especially necessary in times of turbulence.

What are some of the techniques you help them with?

Coaching is more about strategy than technique. Applying strategies expertly requires robust self-awareness. My clients recognize that their own patterns can get in the way of effectively cultivating these higher-order skills in their teams.

For example, when a leader has a deep-seated commitment to create a more human-centred work environment, and they believe that structure is corrosive to free thinking, they may then have a tendency to remove any and all structure. The belief that structure is cognitively restrictive is just plain inaccurate. If a leader holds onto this limiting belief as if it were true, their team members will be waiting to be told what to do, rather than thinking independently for themselves.

When I coach my clients to create great outcomes, we start and end with self-awareness. When they begin to go more deeply, they become more aware of the questions they ask themselves – or more importantly, the ones they tend not to ask. When you can begin to delve into areas you were not aware of before, you begin to see the problem in entirely new ways. Possibilities suddenly open up.

Self-awareness always includes the development of meta-cognition, the awareness of your thinking. Meta-cognition is the brain-based executive skill that strengthens your ability to identify what you’re doing well, and what behaviours need tweaking. Leaders looking for a strategic edge do well when they begin to shine the light on the thoughts and beliefs that inform their decisions. Meta-cognition is the cornerstone of strategic thinking.

Here are some questions that my clients have learned to ask themselves:

Spotting limiting beliefs

What am I believing that generates a lot of emotion?

What choices do I make from this place?

Where else in my life does this belief show up?

In what way is this belief part of my value system – or not?

Identifying the core issues - accurately

What is actually happening?

How do I know my perception is accurate?

Am I viewing this from my vantage point or the team’s?

What patterns do I see in the evidence presented to me?

Communicating more effectively

What message do I really want to be sending?

What am I actually communicating?

How clear and consistent is my messaging?

What have I been reluctant to communicate?

Delegating seamlessly

When I think about delegating, what am I aware of inside of myself?

What choices do I then make?

What skills or beliefs do I need to make delegating easier and systematic?

What steps am I willing to take to make this a reality?

What are your tips for leading and remaining resilient in economic uncertainty?

Resilience is all about being able to adapt flexibly. This requires us to surrender to the reality that our choices are limited to what we have direct control over. To surrender is not easy for leaders who believe they are expected to be in control. But it’s an essential first step. Once you’ve cleared yourself of this burden of over-responsibility, you can choose to focus where you have power.

Decide to put your energy where it will have the most impact. Focus on what works, not on what might not work. What we focus on grows. In times of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on solutions and not on what we fear.

Leaders already know that resilience is created when they fully choose their experience. It may feel like we’re being buffeted about by the turbulent times, but we always have the capacity to choose our next steps. It is the act of consciously choosing that increases our sense of agency. It gives us the sense that we do have a measure of control. And when we choose in this way, we’re much more likely to make the best choices.

Here are some ways you can increase your sense of choice during periods of great uncertainty.

“The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear but how we relate to discomfort.”

                  -American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron

This is the wisdom in a period of turbulence. Choose to turn inward and become wise with it all.

It truly is the calling of our time.

According to reports, a company with an inclusive workplace is six times more likely to be innovative than a non-inclusive workplace. Here's how innovative leadership can lead to better inclusion in the workplace.

1. Leading In Brand Values

Inclusion is about everyone in the workplace. It refers to the type of environment which strives for equity and respect regardless of origin, race, gender, background, age, and experience. Diversity is about respecting and recognising the unique experiences, qualities, and perspectives that every individual brings to the organisation. One way leadership can lead to better inclusion is to lead in brand values. 

Values-based leadership is the type of leadership based on honesty, trust, respect, and dignity. It's the type of leadership that regards every individual in the company as a valued individual. Values-based leaders instil a standard set of values in all their employees, which improve their cohesiveness and willingness to work together as a team. Recognising that a manager or leader has similar beliefs often motivates employees to follow what the leader says, which increases the chances of success for every organisation. 

If done right, a values-based leadership enhances engagement and improves performance and retention - all these could foster growth and profitability for the company. Leaders who lead in values have specific traits and qualities that make them good at leading people.

2. Inclusion In Decision Making

In today's work environment, employees who experience a high level of inclusion at the management or organisational level enjoy favourable outcomes. These include better engagement, improved physical and psychological well-being, and increased performance and intentions to stay in the organisation. Innovative leaders who want to foster inclusivity at the workplace should promote inclusive decision making.

Studies show that inclusive teams can make better decisions. Teams that adhere to an inclusive decision-making process are two times more productive than teams that don't. In fact, inclusiveness and employee engagement are connected. Engaged employees are more likely to say that their company recognise diverse ideas and do what is right. 

To encourage inclusive decision-making, managers should communicate to their teams that every team member should look at the whole picture regardless of their role. They should put true inclusion into practice in all aspects of their jobs, and managers should express this to the team. They should encourage everyone to seek alternatives and different perspectives when making decisions and solving issues at work.

Employees should feel safe when voicing out different opinions. This is important when establishing trust among members of the organisation. Leaders who foster an environment where employees are encouraged to speak up create psychological safety for employees who may not have been heard in the past. If team members listen and recognise each other's perspectives, they help build an inclusive workplace.

3. More Inclusive Recruitment

Inclusive recruitment is the process of recruitment that involves recruiting diverse individuals by recognising and valuing different sets of opinions and backgrounds. The hiring process should be intersectional and consider more than just race or gender. An inclusive recruiting environment recognises how differing ideas, experiences, and values can achieve a common goal. By coming up with a diverse workforce team, your teams will be forced to think outside the box when making decisions and addressing issues in the workplace.

In most cases, coming up with a diverse team can be difficult. Sometimes, recruiters could choose candidates that they connect with personally or those that have the same qualities of employees that they already have in the company. 

The first step into having a more inclusive recruitment program is to educate your team on what these biases tend to look like. Most of the biases in recruitment include religion, race, or gender. While it's essential to be aware of these biases, other biases also exist, which prevents a recruiting team from finding the most suitable candidates. Employers should provide proper training and education to recruitment teams to minimise biases when recruiting. But this learning opportunity should go beyond just recruitment. It’s worth bringing in specialists within the industry. For example, you may need payroll recruitment support to bring in an expert that can get you the diverse coverage you need whilst still using values-driven recruiting. The other teams and departments should also be aware of the importance of having an inclusive environment.

Employers should widen their candidate search when it comes to inclusive recruitment. If your pool of candidates consists of individuals with similar backgrounds, education, and level of experience, your search might be too narrow. Besides, similar individuals use similar channels when applying for jobs. Therefore, think of more creative ways when advertising your job openings to widen your pool of candidates.

4. Leaders Training Managers

Not only is leadership training beneficial to managers, but it's also beneficial for the company as a whole. If you promote leadership roles, you recognise their abilities, professional drive, and work ethics to succeed.

Managers who lack the necessary skill sets and training can be risky to promote, potentially leading to their downfall and, perhaps, the company. Leadership and management training courses are crucial to the long-term success of every organisation, especially if you want to promote inclusivity in the workplace. When building a high-performing team, leaders should be able to optimise the expertise of their employees and prepare the next generation of influential leaders. By teaching managers practical leadership skills, leaders can increase workplace productivity. One of the essential roles of managers is to provide direction to staff and ensure they perform at their best. During training, they will learn how to manage their teams better, assess problems, and make informed decisions.

Leadership training creates an opportunity for employees to achieve new heights in their careers. As a result, employee performance will be enhanced since they will further develop their skills through invested training. In addition, if you give employees a role that can help shape your company's future, they will respond with loyalty. Developing existing employees is also more cost-effective than bringing in new talents, as it will not require you to spend money on advertising, recruitment, and onboarding costs.

Chris, I believe that you and Josie have just been involved in a project on this topic in collaboration with London Business School. How did that come about?

Chris: Josie and I both run independent executive coaching practices and have worked very well together on coaching briefs like this in the past. I was invited as an alumnus of LBS and now I’m part of their Alumni Career Coaching team to co-create a pilot leadership webinar aimed at senior executive alumni. It felt natural to bring Josie into the mix on this topic because she is a great communication coach and complements my background in finance.

So, what did you learn from this exercise?

Josie: So many golden nuggets came out of it! I don’t think that any business would have signed up to mass hybrid working as an experiment unilaterally, however, we were all thrust into the pandemic regardless. Collaborating with other leaders in this webinar produced some great insights into the challenges of adapting business models to suit current circumstances. With so many factors and permutations to consider, it provided the leadership cohort that participated a real opportunity to a) air & debate the challenges and b) share best practices in finding possible solutions from their collective experiences.

Chris: It was indeed a fascinating session. Hybrid working is not exactly a new concept for leaders to handle, but since the pandemic employees have experienced, en masse, the flexibility that hybrid working offers and quite reasonably want it to continue in some form. Subsequently, how can leaders - globally - maintain business effectiveness and cohesion while at the same time allowing employees greater flexibility in how they work? It’s a huge question. Hybrid working isn’t going away, so the difference between winning and losing in this new world order will be measured by the speed at which leaders are able to adapt their business models effectively. The upside of course is that, for agile leaders who can embrace this coming of (the digital) age, there’s a huge opportunity to listen, learn, adapt, and grow in spite of the pandemic.

In this new hybrid culture of work, if you had to put the main challenges companies are facing into distinct categories, what would those be?

Josie: Chris and I spent a long time researching and soliciting feedback on this question in preparation for the webinar. Thankfully, as you might imagine, there is also some great empirical research that has been done on the pandemic’s impact as it unfolds. From our perspective in the context of team leadership, the primary challenges boil down to three Cs: Culture, Communication & Connection.

Chris: Yes, absolutely. It’s the combination of firm Culture also cast as vision & purpose; Connection, specifically in terms of active engagement; and effective Communication across the whole organisation from the top down which actively embraces the best of what technology can offer. The obvious challenge for leaders in a hybrid context is that the binds that tie individuals to the organisation are by definition loosened in a hybrid working world. So forward-thinking leaders are figuring out how best to better utilise digital tools to foster innovation & collaboration whilst retaining an acceptable degree of oversight over productivity & accountability.

Josie: And not just controlling productivity but increasing it by continuing to develop & upskill teams through formal and informal Learning & Development (L & D) activities. How can you best train your people when you’re not in the same room as them? What is truly going to work?

Chris: Exactly! One big conundrum across all professional services is how do we train our young talent in a hybrid context.

Really interesting. What are the implications of these findings for leaders going forward?

Josie: Great question, leaders are beginning to understand that, in moving forward, “one size fits none” and old styles of leadership are unlikely to fit the bill. Hopefully, they will adapt their style of leadership before they are forced to by the workforce voting with their feet. Currently, in investment banking (based on reports in the mainstream media), we’re seeing two types of leadership being played out in real-time. Some banking leaders believe it’s still optimal to “return” to a pre-pandemic business model. They’ve been upfront about requiring teams back in the office after Labor Day unless they are an active health risk. On the other hand, some other firms, notably in Europe, appear to be taking a more flexible & pragmatic approach about who might need to return to the office full-time or part-time and when. Which type of leadership will attract and retain the best talent? Only time will tell.

Chris: From our research, developments in the legal profession seem to be playing out differently from banking probably in part because the nature of legal work lends itself more easily to remote working than banking. From what we are seeing, the law firms are currently taking a more pragmatic view as long as productivity remains high and client needs are being met.

What have the leaders you have spoken to shared about this?

Josie: Well, that’s the beauty of hosting these webinars with senior leaders from a variety of locations and sectors; it invites a myriad of different perspectives and context is key. We are talking predominantly about knowledge workers who account for 1 in 5 workers globally but, for example, make up 60% of the workforce in the US. So, it’s a far bigger consideration today for corporate leaders in the world’s advanced economies than it is elsewhere.

Chris: In addition, the trends set by today’s Fortune 500 companies will be studied and in part incorporated into the global way of doing business in the coming years. This undoubtedly has wider ramifications for the planet and how we live and work. It’s a huge obligation and a massive opportunity at the same time for today’s leaders to embrace constructive change.

So, it seems like an almost insurmountable challenge to solve with so many considerations?

Josie: I think you’re right in so far that this challenge won’t get solved overnight - but let’s be optimistic! Good leaders stay curious, embrace calculated risk and set & articulate clear ‘SMART’ goals. They solicit advice & ideas. From these, they come up with creative solutions that fit their organisational purpose and then start implementing them. Of course, this may require some trial & error and you will need to embrace this risk positively from the outset.

Chris: A key factor going back to the three Cs is that the direction of travel within the organisation is clearly communicated, understood, and has collective broad-based buy-in from employees.

Josie: Absolutely. It’s not just what you say but how you say it, to whom and how often.

Chris: Yes. Communicating vision effectively is fundamental to a sense of shared purpose and leads to significantly higher engagement, whether office-based or hybrid. Picking up on Josie’s earlier point, knowledge workers are being paid to think for a living, so why not take into consideration more of their ideas. Since when did all good ideas emanate from the C-Suite?

You mentioned earlier that organisational context is important. Could you elaborate on this?

Josie: Sure, for example, we could contextualise knowledge work-tasks into predominant typologies; Information work, Evaluation work and Creative work as described by the team at Steelcase, a US real estate consultant. Informative & Evaluative work can be done far more easily remotely than Creative work which requires a higher degree of in-the-moment collaboration and collective energy which cannot be easily recreated in a digital (or asynchronous) setting. The benefit of bouncing ideas in a room together is, therefore, more likely to bring Creatives back to the office than Informative or Evaluative workers.

Chris: Equally you can divide the workforce demographically. Data from a 2020 Gensler study suggests that Millennials & Gen Z workers actually want to come back to the office (okay, maybe not 6 days a week!) because their remote working-set up may be less ideal. You could also contextualise the workforce by Learners, Provers and Leaders. Learners may want to be in the office more to gain experience from senior colleagues and actively seek advice and mentoring in order to develop their careers.

Josie: I would also argue that leaders need to increase their visibility and presence to engage with the wider workforce to model open communication and ease of access to their knowledge.

According to a study by Microsoft, a staggering 40% of knowledge workers are considering switching to a new employer in the next 12 months as a result of their pandemic experience and re-evaluating their goals & objectives in terms of work-life balance. Listen up, leaders!

How can leaders score some quick wins in the process?

Josie: Being seen to engage with employees and be open to new ideas and dialogue between the levels. UBS for example seems to have modelled this well. They recently carried out an internal study of their 72,000 employees soliciting feedback on a range of topics. It concluded that two-thirds of its workforce were in positions that would allow for hybrid working. Merely by demonstrating a willingness to listen and adapt, I would be very surprised if that communique had not significantly increased employee engagement at a time when the battle for talent is white-hot. According to a study by Microsoft, a staggering 40% of knowledge workers are considering switching to a new employer in the next 12 months as a result of their pandemic experience and re-evaluating their goals & objectives in terms of work-life balance. Listen up, leaders!

Chris: I would also add that leaders and people managers at all levels of the organisation should assess their own relational skills and take some constructive feedback on development areas. This is a huge opportunity for L&D. It has been well-documented that Millennials and Gen-Z workers, in general, seek more feedback, guidance and encouragement from their leaders. Possibly more than current Gen-X leaders may have received as they were building their own careers.

Even in a hybrid world, there are some easy fixes for this. Praise direct reports in public & critique them more in private. Pick up the mobile phone more often to express gratitude for a job well done or for going the extra mile for a colleague and make a habit of doing so to build social capital with your employees. That personal touch can have a huge impact even though it may take a few minutes.

New methodologies for working are being created, tried and developed as we speak.

This all sounds great but what is the impact of getting it wrong?

Josie: You’re likely to lose your best people! The market for talent became global overnight with remote working. Now, if an employee is dissatisfied with the status quo or pace of change they will start to look elsewhere. Finding a better fit for their talent is now a more global opportunity, especially in hot growth areas like technology and healthcare.

How can leaders identify when things are going off-plan and what can they do?

Chris: By really listening to those reporting into them. For many leaders it will require a more open & responsive communication style and a willingness to engage rather than dictate, embracing the diversity of thinking and developing the necessary EQ skills to get the best from the team. Leaders at the top of their game have a multi-tier strategy in mind to set and communicate clear goals. They then ‘lead side-by-side’, trusting in and empowering teams & individuals to innovate and when they fail, to encourage them to try again without resorting to a blame game.

In your opinion, how is this all going to play out over the coming years?

Josie: I think fortune will favour the brave. New methodologies for working are being created, tried and developed as we speak. It won’t be a question of “Must we keep up with the changes happening all around us?” so much as “What will happen if we don’t?”  The wizened, old-world behemoths may seem tough now, but what happens when the disruptive newbies of the tech world forge new paths without fear because they’re willing to fail and try again until they find a better path that works?

Chris: I would also say that there is plenty of scope for further disruption within established sectors such as banking, the law and consulting. We are seeing this already in FinTech where digital business platforms have been built from scratch in the 21st century by leaders who started them in their 20s. In my opinion, it is these kinds of sustainable, nimble, high-growth companies that will attract some of the best talent coming into the workforce over the coming years, especially if they can clearly demonstrate their raison d’être and offer the most attractive & flexible working environment for their employees.

What do you think we’ll be saying in ten years?

Josie: “Blimey, who knew where we were going to end up - AND aren’t we glad we took those risks?”

Chris: My hope is that the good guys win. Ultimately for the remainder of the century, leadership should be about responsibility rather than entitlement. It’s about sustainable profitability set within the parameters of environmental, social and governance excellence. Hybrid working is after all only one chapter in the unfolding story of doing business in a complex & challenging world.

Fascinating topic. Final question - how can leaders take this conversation further?

Josie: Firstly, I would say engage an outside expert to come in and listen, understand what you are trying to do and enable you to refine and effectively communicate your vision, goals and expectations to key stakeholders both inside and outside the business.

Chris: It’s the beauty of having someone unrelated to the business who can: 1. Keep you accountable to your ‘why' in a season of huge systemic change; 2. Challenge some assumptions and 3. Facilitate recovery and course correction as needed. This is what Josie and I love to do.

Chris has worked in financial & professional services for over 30 years and can be contacted at Chris@BramleyAdvisors.com   

Josie trained and has worked as an actor & master communicator in the UK & US for many years and can be reached at Contact@JosieGammell.com

 

What do you think are the key lessons business leaders have learnt over the past 15 months?

Firstly, business leaders would have quickly learnt the importance of liquidity in a crisis. Without cash, everything in a business grinds to a halt.

Secondly, given the speed of the pandemic, many global/regional headquarters were overwhelmed or had little time to react. Offices closer to markets were empowered to react quickly to local situations. This decentralised decision-making model is here to stay as we can anticipate more disruptions in a post-COVID world – it is important for an organisation to continue to stay localised, nimble and swift in response.

Thirdly, there have been major paradigm shifts and the pre-COVID world is not coming back. Business leaders realise they need to accelerate the pace of integrating technology into every aspect of the organisation e.g. remote working, online payments, real-time inventory levels, etc. Technology has flattened the playing field and the commerce world is becoming borderless.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly redefined the way business leaders interact with their teams. How can leaders re-approach their interactions to increase employee engagement?

It is important for leaders to clearly set out the organisation’s overall direction and key performance indicators for each business unit, especially post-pandemic when there can be changes in direction for the organisation. With fewer face-to-face opportunities, there is a greater need for leaders to regularly and consistently communicate progress via newsletters, town halls or group check-in sessions. I would recommend senior leaders to have regular virtual chat sessions with varying small groups of employees from any section of the organisation. This ensures senior leaders are accessible and enables them to feel the pulse of the organisation personally.

Employees will stay engaged if they are able to provide feedback for the organisation to stay competitive or how to improve. However, it is critical for leaders to follow through on actions and feedback to stay credible. Feedback from the coalface will be more valuable than before as we are in unprecedented times and the local impacts from the pandemic are different.

Managers play an important role in driving employee engagement and as such, leaders must continually invest in the development of managers for them to be successful. Managers need to have empathy in order to appreciate their employees’ needs as these have changed during the pandemic. For instance, working with their partner at home, homeschooling children, job security, organisation stability and financial well-being are some of the key concerns for employees and these need to be consistently addressed and supported where possible.

Ironically, studies show that leaders who try to be all-rounders and focus on improving personal weaknesses, do not always turn out to be effective leaders. Can you imagine the world if Steve Jobs chose to focus on his improvement areas instead of his key creativity talent?

As the world emerges from the pandemic, what would you advise business leaders to do now?

Following a year of firefighting, it is time to revisit five-year business plans to confirm if long term objectives and business assumptions are still valid post-pandemic. As the world is no longer going back to pre-COVID days, leaders have to be brave enough to accept that there are no sacred cows in the organisation. Where necessary, they have to restructure and adapt to the new world e.g., right-sizing organisation structures, streamlining the supply chain, optimising office space, reviewing business continuity plans etc. Organisations need a sense of urgency to complete this review or face having the company overtaken by the competition.

A positive outcome from a crisis is that it tests and showcases good talent within the organisation i.e. those who stepped up to navigate the challenges. Business leaders should ensure these talents are retained and have clear development plans for the future. The sustainable advantage of a company is its people, and it is easier and more cost-effective to groom internal talent.

Finally, leaders should acknowledge employees for managing the organisation through an extraordinary period of disruption. They should build camaraderie within the ranks by sharing success stories, recognising employees who went the extra mile, recognising individuals through awards, etc. The next stage is to focus on the future and share updated business plans. Build hope, confidence and resilience within employees, as these are the fabric for thriving teams.

Why is coaching so important, even for individuals and leaders who think they don’t need it?

Organisations may think their technology, innovative product designs or branding give them a competitive edge. However, it is the employees who drive these “competitive edges” and people’s talents are an organisation’s sustainable advantage. These talents should be nurtured, especially within the people leaders in the company.

Leaders need to understand their natural talents so they can operate in their ‘strength’ zone and be good at what they do. Ironically, studies show that leaders who try to be all-rounders and focus on improving personal weaknesses, do not always turn out to be effective leaders. Can you imagine the world if Steve Jobs chose to focus on his improvement areas instead of his key creativity talent?

On the other hand, teams must be well rounded to be successful. Studies show that diverse, strong and cohesive teams have a combination of strengths in strategic thinking, executing, influencing and relationship building. In a pandemic, well-rounded teams will navigate well through any crisis with no predictability.

Executive coaching in strengths helps individuals (especially people managers) and teams to accomplish goals by doing what they naturally do best. As company resources are in short supply, managers must effectively utilise team members’ strengths, otherwise, the team’s performance will be mediocre. There are benefits for team coaching sessions as the team members will better understand how each individual works. For instance, a team manager’s talent can be making good decisions, but he or she may need a longer time to deliberate. Therefore, the team can consider sending pre-reads in advance of meetings to expedite the decision-making process. Team coaching enables teams to work cohesively together.

 

They work with leaders who wish to work consciously and lead from their hearts and minds. The work he and his team, does is to help leaders be more efficient and happy. They do this by teaching clients how to go through their day-to-day life more consciously to attain goals easier, with peace and purpose. 

For most people, this is a paradigm shift. Business and self-help books have touted tactics and easy fixes throughout most of their clients' careers. MNDFL LDR turns that paradigm around and works with their clients to come from a more authentic, less scripted position. Their clients start using their leadership not as a bully pulpit but as a position of honour that also serves as a place to grow personally. This shift, in turn, leads to more success at home and work, with more fulfilling relationships; and sometimes even better health outcomes.

What brought you to executive coaching?

About 23 years ago, I was a young father when I was part of a small group with an intimate audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was worried and stressed out as a businessman trying to make a living to support his young family as I learned to be the best manager I could be. In those days, it was customary to lead in a transactional sort of way. I worked hard and demanded the same from my staff.

It was traditional, stressed-out top-down leadership. There was a winner and loser in every transaction, and I was going to be a winner. And it came at a cost, both personally and professionally. I took up meditation as a way to handle the stress.

As things worked out, I was invited to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Dalai Lama. I heard something that day that changed how I would relate to my career, family, and friends going forward. Instead of using the conventional method of top-down management, I would try to make each interaction a transformational one. I would embark on a path to make all parties feel heard and empowered, always grounded ethically and consciously. Although I have had some spectacular failures along the way, for the most part, I was very successful within this new practice. Mindful or conscious leadership are terms that I would use to describe the work.

A wise person once told me that "true success is not about what you achieve but who you become along the way." Many people know this intrinsically but are too caught up in careers or life to see where they are headed. People are beginning to realise this, and I think this is the reason why we see such a re-examination of values during this post-COVID era. This stay-at-home period has given the population time to think through their values. Unfortunately, some seem to have felt like they were not growing as people and just left their employers.

Why do most of your clients approach you? What are the main things leaders need help with in today's world?

During these last two years of pandemics and riots, we have seen a considerable surge in the need for leadership coaching. There seems to be an evenly divided audience in those who are prospective clients.

Leaders can lead effectively during times of known goals, hazards, and obstacles. They have been trained through experience in handling these "known" events. But the last couple of years have been anything but traditional. To get to the next leadership level, they need to lead based on a system of values, self-understanding, and empathy because they do not have all the answers. As a society, we have the corporate values mastered, but the internal skills have been missing.

Many of our other clients are executives who are feeling a bit overwhelmed. We have entered a new age where nobody knows all the rules of the road. Long-term managers and executives who have often successfully led in a top-down manner are now struggling to relate to a new generation of brilliant, young idealistic workers. These leaders come to MNDFL LDR to work on soft skills to bring a new set of tools to their personal and professional lives.

MNDFL LDR also has human resource departments or department heads worried about the company's lack of leadership development. We are told that senior managers and high-potential candidates in the organisation cannot always create a compelling vision with empathy for their teams. Some lack the emotional intelligence to navigate these unique times we have been experiencing the last 18 months. They see it as an excellent opportunity to invest in conscious leadership development programs.

The happiest people I know are those that have successfully married their professional and personal selves.

What have leaders and CEOs struggled with the most during the pandemic?

They don't have the answers. CEOs got to their positions because they had the solutions to customer problems and staff issues. This situation is very uncomfortable for otherwise successful people. Nobody has gone through a pandemic like this. After unsuccessfully navigating this uncharted territory with the same set of tools they used before, CEOs and business owners come to us to work on unique approaches to these unique problems. These challenges are frustrating not only to the leaders but to their staff. We even see now that the pandemic is winding down. For the most part, the team does not want to return to the status quo. Staff wants more input in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. Leaders are insecure and anxious. There is no road map. Changes need to come from within.

How have you helped your clients overcome these struggles?

Since CEOs and other leaders do not have all the answers, they need to be open and available to hear from those who might. We coach CEOs to be more aware of themselves. Allow them to see what they bring to meetings. Teach them how to slow down. The best leaders in these times are those that are approachable. If your people are uncomfortable approaching you with a solution or an issue, that is a lost opportunity.

MNDFL LDR uses a process of self-inquiry for the client and 360s feedback from their peers. We use this to investigate the congruency between our client and their staff's opinion of the leader. We then put together a plan to help bridge the gap. We help leaders become more whole people. More compassionate, mindful, and empathetic, and in doing so, our clients see possibilities where there were none. They achieve goals that have not been reached yet.

Working with a coach is hard work. I admire these men and women who work so hard on themselves. Often paradigm shifts are of the most considerable magnitude. But from my experience, it pays off in not only professional ways but also personal ways.

What's your advice to leaders interested in coaching who can't find the time to do it?

Coaching is not for the lazy or faint of heart. We do not coach managers whom the human resource department or supervisors have said are in trouble of losing their position. Our coaching is not a remedial approach to improving performance. We are living in a world that is changing head-spinningly fast. Because of this, we require a new way of leading, and the next generation of leaders will be well versed in the areas MNDFL LDR works in now. It's not if you will learn these skills; it's when.

Steve Jobs of Apple, Eric Schmidt of Google, Steve Bennet of Intuit, what do they all have in common? They all were very busy, and they all had coaches. The very best executives and entrepreneurs in the world have made time for their coaches, and these were well before the current set of challenges. Thinking you have no time for a coach is like thinking you have no time to put gas in your car. Sure, you can get away with it for time, but pretty soon, the people behind you will pass you.

By all accounts, the ROI on coaching services shows coaching is well worth the money. The stats include employee retention, top and bottom-line numbers, job satisfaction, and quality of life issues. Clients who have been coached have overwhelmingly reported better conditions and results in the workplace. I would encourage all your readers, whether it's through MNDFL LDR or another organisation with trained and certified coaches, to get coached. It is great for you, your career, and your family.

In your opinion, what's the recipe for achieving fulfilment while growing and working on your skills and attributes simultaneously?

This is where the magic of coaching happens. Coaching is a beautiful and holistic approach to growing professionally while making fulfilling internal changes. The awareness and learning you attain work both in your professional and personal life. It's not a coincidence that professional growth and personal growth go hand in hand. The two are connected. The most basic relationship between your professional growth objectives and personal happiness is simple: professional development improves personal life. To be truly successful at personal fulfilment, one must have professional happiness.

We live in a 24/7 world. We used to be able to segment our lives better. In reality, though, the professional you is the same person as the personal you. Any coaching process has to take into account both aspects of your life. While it may seem difficult to balance professional excellence with personal happiness, you realise these two elements are part of the same goal when you look deeper into the growth process. The happiest people I know are those that have successfully married their professional and personal selves.

A professional growth plan does not work if it is created without goals supported by personal values and ethical standards. A professional growth plan won't sustain itself over time (months to years) without personal happiness. Though together, this equals success for the client both at home and in the office.

How do you achieve this in your life?

There are many ways, but I find coaching is one of the easiest for me. When working with a professional coach, you can expect to create personal and professional goals that will help you better align your professional identity with your values. The key to this step is to attain clarity as it relates to growth and happiness. For example: What does true success look like to the client? What professional goals and personal victories will lead to that desired outcome? Even more importantly, what internal and external barriers need to be addressed to materialise professional goals.

Here’s an example. A client of mine felt stuck and dissatisfied with her life, even though she had an excellent job as a marketing manager at a creative agency. The work itself was interesting and gratifying, but it wasn't bringing her internal peace and satisfaction, which she craved. She was feeling internal discontent even though outwardly, her life looked okay. This inner dis-ease manifested itself in frustration with everything she tagged as "wrong" or "not working" in her world – job, living situation, boyfriend – you name it.

By working with us, she was able to identify the internal blocks that were creating internal discomfort, which she then learned to release. In releasing these internal blocks, my client was able to experience internal peace and professional satisfaction for the first time in her professional life —and this is where career growth begins to blossom. She did not have to change positions, she had to change her inner game.

How significant is constant personal growth?

Personal growth is the most crucial step! And this does not have to be complicated. A slight personal improvement each day compounds wonderfully. And it can be a fun habit and very worthwhile. Personal growth is working for the betterment of yourself, and it pays off with you and those around you. For this to become a habit, though, it must be something you look forward to working on each day.

Working with the right coach, you will not waste time working on things that do not reflect your values, and you'll have more guidance to help work towards accomplishing those goals that are important to you.

The coaching approach works from the inside; you are working toward creating a life where you find happiness in your defined successes. Working from the inside out, you'll make necessary changes in your life to reflect the leader that you want to become. Working from the inside out allows constant improvement in all areas of life: relationships, business, health, and spirituality. After coaching, you will be working hard for reasons other than just working for a paycheck. Your life becomes your masterpiece.

Working with MNDFL LDR, you will be working to develop deep self-awareness and improve communication skills. You will learn how to use your energy to work more effectively and maintain better relationships. Learning different ways of working from the inside out can support your leadership capacity in working with your teams. This is where goals are met much easier than trying to use top-down management techniques.

Merchant account and card payment fee comparison service Merchant Machine have carried out a study to look at the extent of these economic changes to find its true value in the world we live in. The research uncovers the impact cashlessness has had on specific industries, personal spending and how much different countries have adopted the payment method. Some of the key findings are outlined below:

Cashless Countries

Revenue from cashless payments has become hugely significant for a number of nations across Europe, but who is yielding the most in recent years? Below are the EU countries with the highest revenue from card payments.

Big in the Industry

Contactless forms of payment have created a new level of convenience for people around the world, and this has provided a real boost for certain industries. Below are some of the biggest winners:

Home and Away

In years gone by, using a card on foreign shores would be a frightening prospect for many, but in 2018, it appears that is no longer the case. Our study has traced the value of cashless payments back to 2006, and show how people have started to adopt card payments abroad and on home soil.

Ian Wright from Merchant Machine stated that: “The popularity and preference towards cashless payments appears evergrowing. While so many are aware of the decline of cash usage and increase in card transactions, but this study helps to break down where these changes are most felt.”

(Source: Merchant Machine)

A study from Dun & Bradstreet recently revealed that while finance leaders remain tasked with business profitability, their remit has expanded to include the sharing of data across the organisation and management of risk.

The Risk Revolution found the top challenge for finance leaders today is monitoring risks within a business’ customer, supplier, or partner base (38%). The second biggest concern for finance leaders was found to be forecasting or predicting risk, while the third was growing profitability.

When it comes to managing risk, data is an invaluable insight for businesses. However, according to the study, 60% of finance leaders said that their data currently exists in organisational silos, with over half reporting difficulty sharing, linking and using data to drive their risk management strategies and are unable therefore to effectively harness the data to mitigate and manage business risk.

Commenting on the report, Tim Vine, Head of European Trade Credit at Dun & Bradstreet said: “A changing business environment, coupled with political and economic uncertainty, is making it increasingly challenging for finance leaders to manage risk effectively. Data-driven tools can uncover valuable insights to inform strategic decisions and drive business performance, but our report shows that adoption of these tools is still relatively low. Finance leaders who are able to leverage data can help their organisation navigate uncertainties in the market, manage risks and grow profitability.”

(Source: Dun & Bradstreet)

The disparity in wealth of the world’s political leaders and their country’s citizens varies greatly around the world. Research from credit broker Moneypod has uncovered just how big the political pay gap contrasts with the national average wage of their country.

Due to public anger over income equality, the Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently took a 36% pay cut to ease tensions. Despite this, he is still the highest paid world leader, with a $1.7 million yearly salary in comparison to the average wage of a Singaporean sitting at $52,000.

Controversial US President, Donald Trump’s wealth is valued at $3.1bn due to his large portfolio of hotels, resorts and real estate. He earns $400,000 per year for his role as President. However, he donates all but $1 of his salary to charity as the American constitution states that a sitting President must be compensated for his services. This is comparable to the average US citizen earns a relatively comfortable $57,000 per year.

When it comes to the world’s wealthiest world leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin is the clear frontrunner. Worth a reported $40bn due to his holdings in a secret portfolio of companies in real estate, utilities and banking, Putin is often accused of corruption and enriching is friends. Compared to the average Russian salary of $7,000 per year, Putin lives a lavish life owning a $1bn palace located on the coast line of the Black Sea.

Discover the wages and net worth’s of the top 20 richest paid world leaders, and how this compares to the average wage of their citizens.

 

 

 

 

 

Politicians have a widespread and long term impact on so many things every time they speak or do anything. But to what extent do they affect currency volatility?

Forex market experts DailyFX have created a guide that looks at 59 key dates in 2017/18 where world leaders may have had significant influence on currencies. The lists of key dates includes US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Brought to you by DailyFX

Liz Beck speaks to Finance Monthly about elevating individuals, teams and businesses to become the best version of themselves.

 

What is your previous experience and how do you draw on it today?

My corporate career was in various HR roles where I had the privilege of working in Global brands such as Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Caradon and The Body Shop International. These years gave me important commercial grounding and the inspiration to build a business around people and the development of their potential. Today, I find myself working across many sectors including Pharmaceuticals, Retail, Banking, Manufacturing and Not-for-Profit.

 

What excites you about being a Coach?

For me, coaching is about giving people back their power and enabling them to be the best version of themselves - and it appears in many forms.

It is the opportunity to operate and experience at another level; to find out what is possible and how you can achieve goals, dreams and often things beyond your own expectations. I am endlessly inspired by what people discover and achieve as a result of coaching and it reaffirms my belief that people are capable of so much more than they ever realise – they just need the space, support, challenge and mirror to see the opportunities, which is exactly what coaching provides. You wouldn’t see a gold medalist without a Coach and there is good reason for that!

 

What are the typical ‘coachees’ that you work with?

Coachees come to me with a variety of objectives – to become a better leader; to create followship; to improve their performance; to realise their potential; to find better balance; to improve their influencing and stakeholder management; to get the next promotion etc. Each person, and their goals, is unique and coaching offers them a space where the agenda is really theirs - a space where they can think and work on their wants and needs and the other person in the room is their partner, dedicated to helping them get where they want to be.

People often ask me: “who is coaching for” and my answer is always the same - “anyone who wants to explore what is possible and how they can achieve more of what they want”. But coaching isn’t some fluffy space – it is a real commitment. The stretch can feel significant but the rewards can be equally so. I encourage anyone who wants to embark on a coaching journey to really explore what they want to achieve and be prepared to commit 100%. If you have a great Coach, they will expect nothing less and will hold you to that commitment. If they don’t, you should question how dedicated a partner they are for you.

To my delight, more and more individuals, teams and organisations are realising the power of coaching and how it creates sustainable change in behaviours and cultures. There has been a significant shift in recent years to this way of working and I think the opportunity now is to understand how coaching can integrate into a way of ‘being’ for organisations and teams rather than be a stand alone activity that is reserved only for specific objectives or individuals. I truly believe a Coach Approach has the power to change the world for the better. A big statement, I know, but imagine a world where people were healthier, happier, free of self imposed ‘rules’ and were therefore operating and contributing to society, organisations, families in a more productive way – that’s the world I wish for the next generation of employees and the ones that will follow after that.

 

What is your vision for the future of AspiringHR?

Aspiring is growing - across all our service areas. We’re supporting an increasing number of businesses with their HR, Performance and Development needs as well as expanding our individual and team coaching and culture work. We genuinely believe there is better to be had - in business, in leadership, in teams, in governments, in schools, in homes.......in us all.

Chris Dyson is an executive coach who runs a company called The Big Blue Box Ltd. He founded the company in 2002 as a vehicle for his emerging coaching practice, however, he’s been coaching full-time ever since. According to its founder, the mission of The Big Blue Box is to ‘unlock potential’ and its aim is to make a client’s working life more enjoyable, productive, fulfilling and, as a consequence of this, happier. This is achieved through coaching in a style which facilitates, supports and challenges people and, in doing so, brings about positive, life-changing results, both inside and outside the workplace. Here Chris tells us more about it.

 

What would you say makes you and The Big Blue Box ideally placed to provide coaching?

Whilst I did not consciously plan my career to bring me to this role, everything I have done in my life and career has contributed.

My coaching style has been informed and shaped by my experience in senior leadership roles, both inside corporate life and outside of it. I’ve experienced and worked through many of the things my coachees bring to our conversations. Rather than basing my practice on a single specific doctrine or pure theory, it has developed through my own experience and by observing what works for different coachees in different situations. My coaching practice is eclectic, integrated, flexible, practical, pragmatic and evolving. It plays to my strengths and draws on my capabilities.

I keep in mind my coachees come wanting tangible results and structure coaching accordingly. I come to the coachee’s chosen meeting location and ensure they get value right from their very first session with me.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background career prior to setting up The Big Blue Box? 

My career started as a graduate in retail, moved on to managing teams, then larger teams and ultimately - a nationwide organisation. I transferred to the supply chain, logistics and distribution side of things and moved through a series of general management roles before gaining Board experience as an Operations Director. An MBA enabled the step up to Managing Directorships through which I gained invaluable experience managing investors and shareholders and shaping leadership teams, operations and strategy.

 

How did the idea about The Big Blue Box come about?

Before starting the Big Blue Box, I’d always worked for other people. What I really wanted was to have control of my destiny. Initially, I became a bit of a serial entrepreneur - experimenting with a portfolio of business ideas and structures.

During this time, I was undertaking some consultancy when a client said: ‘Chris, can I have a word…?’ We went into a quiet office and the client asked if they could just talk to me about some things that were on their mind and had nothing to do with the project. I said OK and they started to tell me their concerns about their job, their boss, their career, their life!

It set me thinking - the client clearly found value in the conversation and applying what they’d gained from it had potential for greater immediate impact than the project I was working on. Equally clear was that I seemed to have an aptitude for this style of conversation. Back then in 2002, in the very early days before coaching was as mainstream as it is now, HR were cautious and senior leadership sponsorship was hard won so marketing was tough. However, early successes proved the concept and I developed my style and skills.

Coachees became advocates and my business grew organically. People I had worked with in one organisation moved on and introduced me to their new organisations.

 

What is The Big Blue Box, how did you decide upon that name?

I became intrigued by the simple idea of a tool box - somewhere to find the right solution for a problem, to find that special tool, to use it and then to put it back till it is needed again. Somewhere solid and stable to keep things – somewhere safe and secure with a lock and key. It is blue because that is a cool, calm, natural colour – but also suggests blue skies, space (and the cliché about ‘blue sky thinking’).

People find the image intriguing, it has the unforeseen benefit of being a great conversation starter when people ask about it! The phrase ‘The Big Blue Box’ is a bit tricky to pronounce, making it memorable. I also liked the anonymity of the name: like my coaching, it’s not about ‘me’. The name and logo just seemed to be right on so many levels.

 

What motivates you most about coaching? What inspires you to press further into your work?

Many people have said that they wish they could have my job. I love coaching, it seems very natural to me, and it doesn’t feel like work. I get to meet interesting people and to have engaging conversations with them. More often than not, there are ‘significant moments’ in the conversation, perhaps an insight, a connection, a moment of reflection or a realisation. A coach is like a catalyst - enabling a change to happen but unchanging themselves. Changes happen and it’s incredibly rewarding.

For a coachee, a coaching conversation is unlike any other conversation they might have with anyone else in their life – it’s not like a conversation with a boss or a colleague, a life partner, family member or a friend. Because it is confidential and like talking to a stranger, people open up.

People really value their coaching, almost every person says it is the only time that they can legitimately stop everything, and talk - the only time that it is just about ‘them’, when they can get some perspective, to reflect, think and plan. You can see their mood change, they often look different, smiling, calmer, clearer and focused, energised, resolute and decisive. Often, when we meet for the next session, people can’t wait to tell me about the things they have achieved.

But coaching is also part of my life in other areas – in my spare time, I work in a charity as an advanced motorcycling instructor.

 

How is coaching perceived?

In the early days, I recall one organisation responded to our marketing outreach by saying ‘Oh no, we don’t believe in coaching, they [our people] should be able to do their job’.

Until a few years ago, coaching was seen as a remedial activity, individuals would have been concerned about even engaging with a coach because of the signals it could have sent.

The balance is shifting, coaching is now seen as a powerful, premium intervention. Individually, people are now actively seeking out and engaging with coaching. Leading organisations are integrating it into their culture - they now understand and actively support coaching for their key people. Senior players in an organisation would usually seek out an external coach, for the stimulus and challenge but also to avoid any internal conflicts of interest or confidentiality issues.

 

What are the typical ‘coachees’ that you work with?

My coachees are almost exclusively employed within organisations. They are 30+, mid-life and mid-career, highly ambitious, experienced in their role and with significant responsibilities. They could be part of the talent pool, the high potentials, or the emerging or current leadership cadre through to Board level, C Suite. Their roles have titles such as: Head of, General Manager, Director, Managing Director, VP and Chief Officer. etc. They can be from any functional area or expertise and are highly skilled. Their professional skills are not an issue.

I also have a small number of private clients. These are often coachees who want to retain the coaching relationship beyond their corporate’s sponsorship. Several of my coachees and corporate coaching sponsors have even engaged me privately, to work with members of their family or recommended me to their friend’s.

 

What kind of challenges do you find your coaching helps with?

All my coaching is focused around improving the performance of the individual - at work. But if the ‘whole person’ comes to work then their performance can be influenced by factors inside and outside work. And the benefits can be outside the work context too.

Most coachees have complex lives, they are ‘time poor’ and have significant demands made upon them. They could be stressed or even overwhelmed, their behaviour may deteriorate, and relationships become strained.

They are often struggling to achieve a balance - between work and home, their own career and their partner’s, between ‘carer responsibilities’ for children and sometimes for aging parents. Support and resilience is tested. They don’t have time to care for themselves, their diet, exercise, or rest.

For some, the ‘rules’ change: before and after promotions or restructures, they struggle with detail and perspective, with the change from professional to manager or leader, moving from operations to strategy, from control to influence, and with understanding politics, negotiation and compromise. Some other challenges are: delegation and managing upwards, conflict – and how to manage it, time and personal effectiveness - perhaps with significantly overfilled in-boxes of ‘unread’ messages.

They don’t have somewhere to talk about many of these things, so decisions don’t get made and the cycle continues. That’s when coaching can help.

 

Do you work in particular industry sectors, what kind of organisations do your coachees work in?

Client organisations tend to be substantial, structured and with international reach. The organisations I coach in are diverse – I work across sectors including financial services and banking, industry and professional bodies, automotive and airlines, engineering and architecture, IT and media, consultancy and design, the NHS and central and local government and agencies, restaurants and entertainments. It’s interesting but whilst some organisations take comfort from knowing that I have experience in their sector, but really, it’s all about people, and actually, the ability to ask the apparently simple question opens up a new understanding.

Whilst the majority of my client organisations are UK-based, I have worked in Europe and I’ve continued to work with clients in the USA over several years.

 

How does coaching work?

Emerging understanding of the workings of the brain is very informative, particularly around stress and emotions. Change can be a challenge but raising self-awareness is a good starting point.

The key to unlocking our understanding of ourselves is often hidden in plain sight, but it may take someone else to help us to see it, coaching helps to find the key and implement the solution. For example:

The 50-year-old leader of the ‘stand out’ business unit in a global organisation had recently developed a fear of reporting at the global quarterly reviews. Asked to explain how that felt, the coachee said: ‘It feels like I’m back in the headteacher’s study at school’. From that insight, identifying the key to understanding their behaviour identified the precise trivial incident that triggered this fear, originally experienced in the headteacher’s study, but replayed in the board room.

 

Tell us about your coaching, is there a process that you go through with your coachees?

I may be given a briefing by the organisation about the coachee and I would decide to proceed if the brief fits my capability. Contact details would be exchanged, and an initial phone call would seek to answer any of the coachee’s concerns before a first meeting is arranged.

It may be an obvious point, but coaching sessions are held at a venue that is comfortable and appropriate for the coachee. This could be at their place of work, perhaps a quiet meeting room, or ‘off-site’. For me, having the flexibility to travel by motorbike is a great advantage, but it’s also often a connection, a conversation topic, and a useful metaphor.

One of the single most important factors in the effectiveness of any coaching project is the relationship between the coachee and the coach. One objective at this first meeting is a simple ‘Chemistry Test’ – can the coachee and I work together? I would also clarify the understanding around items such as ethics, boundaries, confidentiality, the initial objectives and the process. Almost invariably the coachee engages, the relationship is established, and the coaching happens ‘naturally’.

I undertake a ‘diagnosis’ with the coachee. Whilst there may be ‘presenting’ issues, sometimes the ‘real’ issues are only revealed by careful exploration.

The conversation gives the coachee time to tell their story. As the coach, my initial role is simply to listen, ask questions, observe patterns, unravel the details and illuminate them for the coachee. Challenges and suggestions may be appropriate. Sometimes, it may be helpful for me to share my own experiences, but it is all about helping the coachee raise their self-awareness.

There is usually some significant moment in the first session when something happens for the coachee. The conversations are often ‘emotional’ and can be life-changing.

I ensure that I have a clear understanding with the organisation that the coaching conversation is confidential. This means that I don’t report back to the sponsors about the discussion, the issues or the outcomes. Any reporting back to the organisation has to come from the coachee. Trust is essential.

Initially, I limit any coaching project to just 4 sessions – everyone expects results and a limit to the number of sessions tends to focus the attention. However, each session is of ‘indeterminate duration’ – as long, or as short as it needs to be. Usually the first two sessions can be 2 – 3 hours long, some are even longer. The purpose is to fully explore the coachee’s story, not to cut it short by time constraints.

I ask my coachees not to have important meetings just before or after our sessions. On several occasions, the immediate outcomes have been powerful enough for the coachee to want to go home after the session to reflect.

Later stages in the coaching process move to explore ways that the coachee could enhance their self-management and ability to be aware of and influence other people effectively, based upon their understanding of themselves.

I often encourage coachees to invite their sponsor or boss to join us for a 3-way conversation in our final meeting in the coaching series. This can be very impactful. In one case, over a period of time, a coachee had made themselves ill, striving for the recognition which had not been given to them as a child. Hearing praise from their boss in our 3-way meeting brought tears, and changed the boss’s behaviour too.

I ask all my coachees to complete an evaluation questionnaire as they move through the final stages of the coaching series. This captures their reflections and assessment.

 

What kind of outcomes can be achieved, how could our readers measure the outcomes?

Almost without exception there is one outcome all coachees achieve – they remark that the coaching conversation is the only time in their lives that they stop, have time to talk, to think, to reflect.

My coaching usually creates a multitude of outcomes which can be across any area of the coachee’s life, these outcomes could have an immediate and direct impact at work. Other outcomes, perhaps outside the work context, could be confidential for the coachee.

This creates a challenge for measuring coaching. Anecdotal, observation and self-assessment may capture the extent of the outcomes but not quantify the change. The coachee and those closest to them are most likely to have the best opportunity to determine the real outcomes. A report from the coachee and sponsor at the conclusion of the coaching and a further review after the passage of time would be a pragmatic approach.

Sometimes, an outcome could be a simple ‘quick win’. Email is often a significant cause of stress and poor performance, leading to poor communications and decision-making and the culture of the organisation is in part responsible. Strategies to achieve a ‘Zero Inbox’ might be a simple outcome and a quick win!

Hard outcomes, unlocking the potential in coachees include: winning competitive promotions, supporting succession and promotions to board level roles, accelerating career, team performance outcomes, behaviour changes in senior leaders – with consequent impact cascading through the organisation, catalyzing culture change within an organisation - introduction of a coaching culture, helping board members negotiate new roles and become strategic and politically more aware, enabling a leader to understand their response to conflict, enabling delegation with improved performance and engagement from direct reports.

Softer outcomes include finding or rebuilding a balance in life, improved relationships with work colleagues and crucially, also at home, being clearer about a career direction or career choice, gaining a greater sense of purpose, enhanced confidence, self-esteem, but also losing weight and getting fitter.

Life-changing outcomes, when significant change is achieved in several areas, are exemplified by the case of assisting a key person to return to work after an absence caused by stress. In the coaching sessions they re-examined their values, drivers and purpose, which changed their behaviours. This changed relationships at home and at work, and also rebalanced their lifestyle, which improved resilience, and their performance at work. Their talent was retained by the organisation.

 

What are your main goals for the future?

I’ve seen the business grow organically and by recommendation. I envisage that is how it will continue. It’s about the personal connection and I want to retain that.

I’d now particularly like to grow my business into the USA.  I’ve got a significant number of coachees and a good network out there and I’ve tapped into some of the Government-funded support available. I’d like to see my US client base expand over the next few years, developing both my existing clients and connecting with new ones. I have been particularly successful in California, so that is a specific target area.

 

Website: https://thebigbluebox.wordpress.com/

Oracle and the MIT Technology Review recently released a new study that highlights the importance of collaboration between finance and human resources (HR) teams with a unified cloud. The study, Finance and HR: The Cloud’s New Power Partnership, outlines how a holistic view into finance and HR information, delivered via cloud technology, empowers organizations to better manage continuous change.

Based on a global survey of 700 C-level executives and finance, HR, and IT managers, the study found that a shared finance and HR cloud system is a critical component of successful cloud transformation initiatives. Among the benefits of integrating enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) systems is easier tracking and forecasting of employee costs for budgeting purposes. Additionally, integrated HCM and ERP cloud systems improve collaboration between departments, with 37 percent of respondents noting that they use the cloud to improve the way data is shared.

The report also reveals the human factors behind a successful cloud implementation, with employees’ ability to adapt to change standing out as critical. Among organizations that have fully deployed the cloud, almost half (46 percent) say they have seen their ability to reshape or resize the organization improve significantly – as do 47 percent of C-level respondents.

The productivity benefits have also been significant. Nearly one-third of respondents (31 percent) say they spend less time doing manual work within their department as a result of moving to the cloud and that the automation of processes has freed up time to work toward larger strategic priorities.

“As finance and HR increasingly lead strategic organizational transformation, ROI comes not only with financial savings for the organization, but also from the new insights and visibility into the business HR and finance gain with the cloud. People are at the heart of any company’s success and this is why we are seeing finance and HR executives lead cloud transformation initiatives,” said Dee Houchen, Senior Director of ERP Solutions at Oracle. “In addition, improved collaboration between departments enables organizations to manage the changes ahead and sets the blueprint for the rest of the organization’s cloud shift.”

The survey also reveals there is a blurring of lines between functions and individual roles as the cloud increasingly ties back office systems together:

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle added: “As organizations navigate technological changes, it’s critical for the C-suite to empower its employees to evolve their individual business acumen. Many businesses understand this and it’s encouraging to see 42 percent planning to provide their teams with management skills training to help them break out of their traditional back-office roles. The learnings from the move of finance and HR to the cloud will ultimately spread across the organization as, together, they conceptualize the shape of the next disruption.”

(Source: Oracle)

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