Inside / Outside?

In out

“The answers aren’t out there, they’re in there”  Goldsborough Coaching & Consultancy

How often are we seduced by the notion that the answers we need are to be found outside of ourselves?

In a world of living by algorithms it can seem faintly ridiculous to validate our own resources.

When creating a strap line to capture the essence of my business coaching role I thought it important to nail my colours to the mast;

“The answers aren’t out there, they’re in there”

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Glue v/s solvent

Glue v solvent

Coaching; some clients need glue while others need solvent….

Thinking about that issue that keeps getting in your way (you know, the one that seems stubbornly elusive & hard to pin down).

If you were one day brave enough to consciously acknowledge it & look to gain support, which do you think you would be looking for?

goldsboroughcoach.co.uk

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Reaching out, inviting in

Reports

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“The world is disgracefully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain” – Ronald Firbank

This blog is about the increasing political interest in corporate governance through offices such as the Financial Reporting Council, author of Corporate Culture and the Role of Boards and using this as a vehicle to explore how change challenges.

Companies are being told to think and report more broadly, beyond the short term bottom line to issues such as longer term viability, culture and values. In essence thinking and acting more responsibly on issues such as gender and environmental concerns and evidencing this in their strategic reports.

Grant Thornton’s annual analysis of the UK’s FTSE 350 companies shows that, as with any new initiative, companies are still orientating themselves. There appear to be three broad camps; those that have simply failed to step up the plate, perhaps hoping it will go away. Those that acknowledge the requirements and meet the obligation via a shallow academic exercise, adding bolt-ons to their existing reports. Thirdly, those that have meaningfully engaged and embraced the spirit with distinctive reviewing of their broader corporate responsibilities.

Despite the research showing that the benefits are significant, including increased investor confidence, only 62% have full compliance and of those that do quality remains a mixed bag.

If it is not difficult to engage with a new way of working then the change probably does not represent a paradigm shift. Such shifts are disorientating and personally challenging for leaders with an investment in the old order of things – the rules have changed. Talking with familiar peers in familiar places often reinforces the existing group think, can encourage denial and a re-enactment of familiar and well rehearsed scripts adapted to the old order i.e. increase corporate risk.

Reaching out beyond the outer skin of the organisation or inviting guests such as coaches in to the inner sanctum can help to challenge, explore and identify how we do sometimes get in our own way. As Abba Eban said “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other options”.

But I guess that is not compulsory…

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The second hurdle

Second hurdle

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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

There are the obvious reasons why some strategic plans fall at the first hurdle. Inadequacies such as failing to gather data from the business environment, not taking into account the resources required, a malfunction in converting the goal to a detailed route map,  work streams not owned by specific people etc. In reality then these ‘plans’ do little more than represent a wish or rough direction of travel with a corresponding reduced chance of success.

There is a plethora of guidance out there to help us avoid these pitfalls and this is largely academic in nature e.g. the use of specific tools and anagrams such as SWOT analysis & SMART goals.

But what of the second hurdle?

From my own experience of leading organisations and from hearing the stories of my coaching clients, the issue of organisational culture is one that often gets missed or only given cursory attention and yet it is often the issue that scuppers the best laid Gantt charts.

The reality is that notions of culture are less tangible, more ambiguous and do not lend themselves well to being understood using an academic frame of reference. I am often struck by the granular detail with which a strategy is proposed but the lack of attention paid to how this may play out in the real world i.e. with the people that have to implement and live with the strategy.

It seems that sometimes the question of culture is simply too difficult and therefore ignored or shied away from and not allowed to carry any weight in proceedings. The harsh reality is that whether we are comfortable with it or not, organisations are complex social organisms and so often represent the rocks on which are strategic ships are scuttled.

Whether we like it or not dysfunctional group think, dynamics, mores, fantasies and taboos etc are often more powerful than the call to action. Hierarchy and chain of command often failing to be the pivotal agent for change, leaving leadership floundering and pushing against the river.

The coaching process can be a powerful space to explore issues of this nature, to reflect and broaden our understanding and thereby enable the intangible to become more tangible and the cultural blind spot to become more visible, leading to greater impact moving forward.

For more prose of this nature and further detail on Goldsborough Coaching & Consultancy please click on the link below:

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Goldsborough Coaching & Consultancy

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https://www.goldsboroughcoach.co.uk/

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The sand pit

sand-pit

“Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you” – Aldous Huxley

Professional coaching is of course many things, but forced to encapsulate it in a sentence for me Huxley’s would make a great starting point. Experiences are the raw material for making sense of life, but our characteristic to follow the path of least resistance often means that the opportunities experience provides us to move forward, is lost. Instead we say to ourselves ‘tick, job done’ and move on.

Coaching should provide the opportunity and discipline to reflect on the journey and nail down the personal and professional learning before using this new knowledge to scale the next challenge.

Imagine an athlete or sports team simply going home and failing to reflect on the previous time they stepped into the arena. The idea is ludicrous, visualise the triple jumper who steps out of the sand pit and before they do anything else (with the exception of getting the sand out of those hard to reach places) walks straight over to their coach for debrief and analysis.

Yet as individuals and teams how often do we do this in our professional arena and routinely move on without a backwards glance? Is what we spend most of our working week doing somehow less important?

What still excites me about my coaching work is helping to convert that experiential raw material into learning and growth for others and yes, taking my own medicine, for myself as well.

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A coaching challenge

professor 2.jpg “The most dangerous people in the world are those who believe they know what is best for others”   Masson

Therein lays a coaching challenge:

To be Knowledgeable, thoughtful & wise but not the oracle

To be astute & direct but not to dominate & control

To be shrewd & judicious but not to govern & manage

To be deliberate, purposeful & intentional but not to dictate & overshadow

To be truly present, observant & insightful & to possess enough self awareness to manage our presence in the client’s best interests & not be seduced by intellectual vanity

Paul Tillich said similar “The passion for truth is silenced by answers which have the weight of undisputed authority”

So, working with leaders I have often been struck by how executive stress is magnified when the pressures & responsibilities of the role conflict with personal style & values i.e. create an incongruence with our sense of self. It seems that when this happens it can become close to impossible for the busy executive to be aware of and see this with any clarity. The psychodynamic coaching relationship helps the person within the leader become more aware of these types of dynamics.

As a coach this type of observation is made more readily accessible when we resist instincts to direct and make ourselves truly available to hear & experience the other person in the room, enabling resolution through deeper understanding.

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