The Living Organisation :

September 2010

Welcome to the Living Organisation September 2010 Newsletter.

The four main strands of my recent work have been Executive Coaching, Facilitation, Leadership Development, Team Coaching and Team Development.

Executive Coaching

In the current economic climate the need for Coaching seems if anything, to be even clearer for organisations. The focus has shifted from asking whether Coaching gets results and can be justified to how to select the right Coaches. I am working with CEO’s, MD’s and senior leaders in the oil, construction, IT, manufacturing, SME and banking sectors.

I have also recently been selected for a number of Coaching panels including Deutche Bank, the NHS and the Leadership Foundation.

Thankfully it is rare nowadays for Executive Coaching to be thought of as simply a way of “fixing” problems. Having said that, Individual or Team Coaching can be a highly effective way of addressing thorny issues, although when holding a systems perspective it often becomes clear that the “problem” is not located where people think.

I also work in the field of Executive Coach Training, including as a member of the faculty of the Academy of Executive Coaching for the flagship Advanced Diploma programme. Working with AoEC colleagues I offer clients accredited Coaching development programmes.

Facilitation of Technical, Contract Lessons Learned and Values Workshops

Working with an experienced, external facilitator is important for many of my Clients. Participants experience single and multi-day workshops as being more connected, focussed and energetic and the group develop awareness of how they are working together leading to different choices and improved outcomes, both for the workshop itself and in terms of sustainable performance improvement in the business.

I have recently facilitated single day and multi-day Technical, Contract Lessons Learned and Organisational Values workshops.

A Process Approach

In the Organisational Values workshop the CEO expressed the view that: “The most important outcome from this meeting will be the conversational threads that we carry forward jointly.”

This is an example of the importance of what I would term a “process” focus. Thinking about our organisations as “iterated patterns of interaction,” allows us to see the importance of building and sustaining the process work of the organisation and the connections and links needed to do so. As another example, if we view Strategy as an on-going company-wide conversation, rather than the documented outcome from a senior management off-site, what actions would we take as leaders?

Leadership Development

I have co-led a number of Leadership Development programmes and initiatives during the year, in the public and private sectors.

Having been involved in Leadership Development work over many years and in many different forms and styles, my own thinking regarding how to get to the desired outcome (people behaving differently and more effectively with each other in the business) has changed and matured.

It’s a complex area but broadly, I see 5 key areas of focus:

  • Continuous focus on connecting the developmental activity with the organisation and its mission, leadership and workflow.
  • Developing wider and deeper individual awareness in 1-1 and group settings and ensuring that such awareness is grounded in the system (e.g. using 360 data.) Creative and action approaches can be useful here.
  • Supporting the actually changing behaviour in the system piece through 1-1 Executive Coaching threaded throughout the work.
  • The ultimate objective of the developmental work is that people will be doing different things, implementing different skills and working more effectively in the system. So (for example) developing further academic knowledge might support this objective but it is not the primary objective.
  • Taking a systems approach e.g. how can individuals do things differently and more effectively but also how is our leadership and culture supporting or hindering people from doing so?

Team Coaching

Team Coaching is fast becoming the “next big thing” in organisations. I think it is interesting to ponder the intensity of our on-going search for that “next big thing.” It certainly applies in consumer electronics but perhaps not as much as we imagine in the field of people development.

I see Team Coaching as a helpful new synthesis and packaging of three key consulting skills:

  • Working 1-1 as an Executive Coach
  • Working systemically as a Coach (staying connected to the team, system and organisation’s priorities)
  • Intervening with hierarchical teams and groups (requiring us to have in-depth understanding of our own and other’s responses to hierarchy and power)

Team Development in General

A senior NHS leader once described to me how debilitating it was to engage in a process of “Team Development,” which left everybody in the team feeling that, on top of still having all the day-to-day challenges, they were now all very clear as to just how un-skilled they were at interacting with each other.

I was not the Consultant, although 10 years ago I might have been. My own beliefs, style and approach have changed significantly over the years through experience, training and supervision. For example, nowadays I think it’s important to help groups identify what they are good at and doing well, before looking at the challenges they might want to address together.

There are interesting connections here, both with the Consultant’s own psychological process and make-up and theoretical stance. Intervening in such systems is not a simple process and I will talk to this some more next time.

My Own Professional Development

As part of my commitment to my own professional practice, I meet and work in a number of different on-going forums throughout the year. Looking ahead, I am attending a 1-day AoEC Team Coaching seminar in October and then in Spring 2011, I will be with GISC in Cape Cod for 10 days in-depth training re intervening in hierarchical systems.