From October 22 – 24th Annick Zinck and Tom Greder will host another leadership lab in Switzerland using the performing arts to learn about how we lead. From personal experience I would highly recommend this experiential workshop. There are currently 3 places left. For further information click here.
Six years ago a coaching pilot was launched with MBA students in the Smurfit Business School. To date 851 individuals from 30 different countries have benefited from this programme.
The purpose of the MBA coaching programme is to provide a space for reflection in the lives of MBA participants to enable them to work on a personalised agenda thereby maximising the value of the MBA as they transition back into the work-place.
Myself, Orla Nugent (MBA Programme Director) and Michael McDonnell (Leadership Development Programme Manager) took a look back over the last six years of the programme and recently published this article in the Association for Coaching Bulletin. Hopefully you will find it of interest.
Is it just me or is everyone talking about ‘values’ in leadership these days? I have noticed an increase in such conversations in the last 6 months.
This week, it has come up every single day whether with colleagues or clients (corporate and personal).
I came across some research done by the Barrett Values Centre in 2012, where they surveyed 4,000 people to understand their personal values to form a view of what’s important to society as a whole in the UK (See picture and more detail in this report).
Would it be useful to understand Irish values so it can inform decision making at a national level?
Imagine a big room in the attic of a rural hotel in the Swiss mountains. There are 8 people, 2 facilitators (clown/ consultants) and 6 participants diverse in terms of age and country of origin. This is a leadership lab run by AZck! Learning and Development in conjunction with Tom Greder.
I went to this programme as a participant really unsure what leadership can learn from clowning but open to finding out. The journey over the 3 days brought us out of our comfort zones (with our permission) and helped us each to address areas of development we wanted to explore. I have never before seen a programme so tailored to the needs of the individual.
Like many leadership programmes, we explored the areas of self-awareness and our impact on others. However in contrast to the usual programmes, we really entered unknown territory. Our journey mirrored some of the challenges of life outside the lab: leading in ambiguous situations, with limited resources and having to improvise in the spotlight (although in this case, there really was a spotlight!)
We often learn a lot from times when we are stretched… and this was one of those occasions – a very special one indeed! We learnt and laughed so much!
So I ask myself the question in hindsight what has leadership got to learn from clowning? Surprisingly for me, quite a lot! So many of the regular leadership themes emerged in the act of clowning: presence, vulnerability, connection with others, leadership and followership, adaptability and so much more. But instead of reading it from a textbook or listening to theory, we were in a laboratory, and we ourselves were the subject of our own experiments. I can’t think of a more engaging way to learn.
A recent article in the FT by Maxime Boersma entitled ‘We want coaching,’ say high-fliers shows how perceptions of coaching have changed dramatically over recent years.
The Head of Learning and Development at a UK organisation describes how “Executive coaching is increasingly sought by senior leaders as a space where they can have reflective conversations about their work and be challenged on their thinking and approach.”
Over my life-time I have been on a journey of gaining expertise in the actuarial field, as an IT consultant, as an operations director and now as a leadership development consultant and coach. After-all, expertise gives credibility.
In my quest to learn more and know more, I never really considered the down-side of expertise – surely it can only be a good thing? This morning I was reading a review of a book called the ‘Reflective Practitioner’ by Donald Schön and I was reminded that expertise can actually restrict our thinking. It can narrow our vision. We expect that the challenge we are facing is the same one as the one we saw last week or last month with similar characteristics. In fact, if we have ‘over-learned’ what we know we can become ‘selectively inattentive to phenomena that do not fit’ our past experience . The risk is that we misdiagnose the issue we are facing and presume that we know the answer.
Donald Schon describes a process of ‘reflection in action’.
‘The practitioner allows himself to experience surprise, puzzlement, or confusion in a situation which he finds uncertain or unique. He reflects on the phenomenon before him, and on the prior understandings which have been implicit in his behaviour. He carries out an experiment which serves to generate both a new understanding of the phenomenon and a change in the situation.’ (Schön 1983: 68)
I am often struck by the questions my kids ask. I accept so many things in the world which they question and that certainly challenges me. I am reminded here of the benefits of not accepting or presuming, but seeing each challenge we face with fresh eyes and ‘puzzlement’.
As an authority figure, we are typically expected to know the answers i.e. have the expertise. In leadership, our ability to ask insightful questions is so much more important so we can broaden our field of vision.
Looking at things through a different lens can often help us see a situation differently and learn. This was exactly what struck me when I came across this quote recently… except the lens in this case is more like a mirror – so we can understand ourselves and our impact on others a little more.