‘Being to Doing’ Coaching
by Arul Dev
Part 1 – Context
A client approached me to facilitate a 360-degree exercise for their senior leaders. I had brought in an innovative coaching process to transform the experience of a 360-degree feedback program. This story captures the essential coaching process I created and executed which created a ‘Wow’ and transformative experience for their leaders. This story also shares what I learnt through this coaching process that can be replicated by other coaches.
As the designer of this coaching process I made three suggestions to the client:
- To make it a strength-based approach. The suggestion was to enable the leaders to first recognize and celebrate their strengths observed by self and others. From this space of strengths the next step was to recognize points of development emerging from personal reflection and feedback received from others. The goal was to help leaders to craft their next one-year development journey.
- To bring in depth into the coaching process. The suggestion was to craft a Purpose, Value and Unique Strengths Discovery process in-between the coaching sessions, to enable leaders to go deeper. The attempt was to help them to get in touch with their own unique ‘being’ space and bring that into their ‘doing’ space in the roles that they are playing in the organization.
- To help leaders to sense and align with the organization’s core purpose and culture.
This methodology was accepted by the organization. The rest of this story captures the process that worked well and the general experience of the leaders that unfolded.
Part 2 – Coaching Process
Step 1: First 1:1 360 Feedback Assimilation Coaching Conversion (Roughly 60 – 90 minutes)
The aim was to allow all the coaching clients to connect to his or her 360-degree report and have a coaching conversation around it. Time was given for initial reactions, responses and reflection. Time was given to brainstorm with the coach to clarify for oneself what a specific feedback could mean and what the leader wants to do with it. As a coach I played the role of asking powerful questions and focusing on the client accessing a space of inner resourcefulness throughout the whole process. As a coach I invited the leaders to play with two key agendas during the conversation:
- Recognizing and celebrating the resourcefulness that the leader had demonstrated over the last year, as recognized by themselves and others.
- Reflecting to identify what is the current inspiration present within them. What current resources and competencies did they want to enhance to the next level? What new resources and competencies did they want to add to their repertoire of strengths?
Overall Experience of the leaders:
This coaching conversation left the leaders in an overall resourceful state. While the human tendency is to worry about the shortcomings, a masterful coaching focus ensured that they started focusing on their strengths. The coaching time also permitted them to begin to look at what could be three key developmental points for them to work on over the next six months to one year.
Step 2: Discovery of True Self (3 hours)
By dividing the leaders into small groups I took them through two processes based on the Fulfillment Coaching Model ™ and Triple Loop Alignment Model ™ of Coach for Life of Peter J Reding. The following were the components of this process:
- Did an eyes closed visualization process for leaders to discover / re-discover their Life Purpose, Core Values and Natural Gifts and Talents.
- Did an eyes open reflection process for leaders to identify and articulate which part of the organization’s purpose, core values and unique value proposition they resonate to.
- Asked leaders to evaluate on a scale of 1 to 100 how much they were honoring their individual purpose, values and natural talents. Asked leaders to evaluate how much they were contributing to the organization’s purpose, values and unique value proposition. Asked them to reflect whether they were experiencing individual fulfillment more or were they feeling that they were contributing to the organization more.
- Enabled them to begin to craft their next one year role and goals in such a manner that:
- They can fulfill their purpose, honor their values and utilize their natural gifts and talents
- AND at the same time they can forward the organization’s purpose, core values and unique value proposition they resonate with.
Overall Experience of the leaders:
For more than 70 per cent of the leaders this was a ‘Wow’ moment. Some of the key insights and reflection points that emerged for them are:
- They could clearly identify if they were experiencing both the satisfaction of individual fulfillment and the joy of organizational contribution.
- It was a great insight for leaders that they could actually craft their role and goals ahead to get dual benefit of individual fulfillment and the joy of participating in organizational building of its core.
Step 3: Second 1:1 ‘Making an Action Plan’ Coaching Conversion (Roughly 60 – 90 minutes)
The 2nd round of coaching after the self-discovery process was the key component of this entire coaching journey. As a coach I invited them to come to the session with two inputs:
- a) Their self discovery sheets fully filled where they had listed
- a. Individual purpose, values, strengths.
- b. What they resonate to with the organization’s purpose, value and strengths.
- c. The first draft of their new roles and goals that are more aligned to individual fulfillment and organizational contribution.
- b) The beginnings of their one-year development plan that they had started to make in their first coaching session with me.
As a coach the key focus was to ask deep questions that helped leaders to reflect if they were consciously crafting their actions to align to self and organization. All conversations were then centered on purpose, values and strengths. This brought in a good degree of responsibility and ownership to create a meaningful experience for themselves in the organization and positively contribute to the culture of the organization.
Overall Experience of the leaders:
Some experiences and feedback shared by the clients on their experience of this process:
- “We should take this across the organization.”
- “It helps me to identify what I am good at.”
- “It helps me to focus on those few things that I could be good at.”
- “We do not have much time, as we are all busy. Even if we do this a little bit it will help.”
- “This helped us to discover our natural rhythm.”
- “It is a good idea to focus on what I resonate to in the organization. Now no matter what else is happening I can focus on that.”
Part 3 – Outcome
We had a third and final 1:1 coaching. This was a practical and more a ‘doing’ coaching session. It was almost like ‘Ok Great, we got the clarity and depth. Good. Now what do you want to commit to your own development over the next 6 – 12 months. How would it help you at your work and how do you see yourself progressing because you are practicing these development points?’ As a coach my key role was to help them to nail down clearly at goal, process and action level, 2 – 3 changes they really wanted to make within themselves to progress to their next level.
The final outcome of the coaching journey was that each of the clients submitted to their reporting supervisor a sheet that had a list of their 3 development areas, their practices to master these development areas and commitment time frames to demonstrate tangible results. This ended the formal coaching journey.
Part 4 – Learning Summary
The key learning for me was to see in action the power of ‘being to doing’ coaching from a strengths and inner-to-outer alignment perspective. To be very frank I did not realize that the coaching program would be such a huge success. When the need of a 360 degree program came from the client, I trusted my intuition to bring in the Fulfillment Coaching Model ™ which focuses on the discovery of purpose, values and strengths during the coaching journey and keeps focus on this ‘being’ space throughout the coaching process. The power of focusing on ‘being’ space and asking clients to design their actions in a manner congruent to their ‘being’ space was a fulfilling experience to see and a validation that the process works. I have for many years stood for an inner to outer approach in my coaching and facilitation work. This coaching process gave me a valid methodology of how to coach clients to work at self and culture level simultaneously. It gave me proof that something as abstract as purpose and values can be tangibly brought into corporate coaching to make it meaningful for clients.
The second learning was to enable clients to identify key signature strengths that they are exceptionally good at. Once they get some clue of their key strengths I ask them, ‘No matter what situation or challenge is present outside at work or home, will this strength enable you to handle the situation masterfully?’ If they had hit upon their unique and natural strengths the answer of clients always was a resounding ‘Yes’. This was a major breakthrough, as in general the 360-degree process focuses on the limitations and often leaves the coaching client in a non-resourceful state. Now I have concrete evidence observed over four months of this coaching process that it is far more strategic to identify core strengths and really support clients to build them up. The idea is strengthened by the following quote in a HBR article titled “Making Yourself Indispensable” by John H Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger in the October 2011 issue:
- “What makes leaders indispensable to their organisations, our data unmistakably show, is not being good at many things but being uniquely outstanding at a few things.”
- “What difference can a single strength make? Raising just one competency to the level of outstanding can up your overall leadership effectiveness ranking from the bottom third to almost the top third.”
The third key learning was how to bring in individual to organizational alignment. Though for years I was fascinated with leaders exploring ways that they can sense the organizational culture and contribute towards it, the Triple Loop Alignment ™ model of ‘Coach for Life’ gave me a concrete method to do this. Also when I had asked clients in the past about their organizational culture they sometimes focused on values that they felt disconnected to in their organization’s culture. The method that I brought in helped the client to focus on parts of the organization’s purpose and culture that they resonated with. With this question the whole focus shifted and the clients gave themselves the freedom to deepen their connection with the organization. The key question I asked that helped them to focus was, ‘Among the many parts of the organization’s culture and purpose what are some parts you resonate to the most.’ This was a great breakthrough method as it immediately brought into the present moment their resonance and connection to the ‘core’ of their organization that they connected with. From this connection it would be easy to change what needs to be changed in the culture. The additional learning and breakthrough was to enable them to craft roles and goals in a manner that gave them an opportunity to explore the ‘And’. The key coaching question to them was, ‘What roles and goals will help you to contribute to your purpose/ values and to the organization’s core, that you resonate with’. This left the clients more aligned and they experienced a process that they could replicate on their own in future.
Part 5 – Conclusion
The intent of sharing this story is to demonstrate that this method of coaching works. The attempt is also to show that 360 degree coaching journeys can be converted into a resourceful and deeply meaningful experience for clients. I thank Peter J Reding of ‘Coach for Life’ for sharing this method, which I customized for this process. I feel this method has a great potential to transform coaching engagements in organizations.
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