Last month it was all about IAC® members over the airwaves, and this month we are in print! IAC® Communications Chair Sue Brundege had an article published in the March issue of choice, the magazine of professional coaching. "License to Skill" does an excellent job of introducing and promoting the IAC Coaching Masteries® to the greater coaching community.
In this month's President's Message, Angela Spaxman pushes us to extremes with her never-ending quest for excellence—not just for the IAC® for but the coaching profession as whole. Angela and I also both chose to highlight an exciting new project that features the work of IAC® founder Thomas Leonard.
In Tools for Coaching Mastery, IAC® licensee Aileen Gibb of IC International presents several useful and creative tools to help us achieve Mastery #3—Engaged Listening.
Janice Hunter will be back next month with a new column. In the meantime, feel free to browse through some previous Coaching Moments.
Submission guidelines for the VOICE are now available on the website, including submission dates for our upcoming issues. I would love to receive your article submissions by April 20th for the May issue, or May 18th for the June issue.
Is the IAC® living up to our potential as an organization? How well are we achieving our mission: to advance coaching to the highest standards of universal excellence? What new services, policies or practices would help us do more? These are the questions I'm asking myself, and asking you.
Clearly the world needs to go through a dramatic period of change. I want to be part of that, and I know that coaching adds tremendous power and humanity to this essential drive for change. How can the IAC® more powerfully support high-quality coaching so that we can be a catalyst for positive change?
As you may know, Andrea J. Lee recently launched a new website featuring content from our Founder, the late Thomas J. Leonard. The resources there are an opportunity to reconnect with the energy that Thomas created in the world of coaching. And for those who never knew Thomas, it's a chance to find out what all the fuss is about. Thomas was a very special individual, and his cutting-edge thinking still influences the IAC® through his original concept. Thomas inspired many coaches and continues to inspire the IAC®.
According to Andrea, one of Thomas's success strategies was to "find the extreme." Extremes are provocative and very attractive. When extremes are used in designing organizations and in marketing, they force innovation. So of course I am now wondering, what extremes does the IAC® represent in the marketplace of coaching? Are we "the simplest" coach certification program in the world? Do we represent "the highest" standards of coaching in the world? Those are two extremes I would aspire to. What other extremes could we represent as a coaching association? Note: thanks to our new blog format, you can now add your comments below.
I've been reading with relish the notices and updates about Andrea J. Lee's newest venture, The Thomas Leonard Success Strategies Program (you can read more about Thomas Leonard here). Andrea and I sat down to discuss how she's feeling about the project, what motivated her to bring it to the world, and why she thinks now is the best time to discover or rediscover the work of Thomas Leonard. Click below to listen to our interview.
Are you looking for a higher level kind of coaching conference experience? One where you can hear from powerful conversation starters who generate meaningful conversations and have an opportunity to establish closer relationships with other master-level coaches? Then look no further than the third annual Conversation Among Masters (CAM) event being held on May 3—6 in Branson, Missouri, USA.
CAM is a unique, invitation-only event designed to give Master Coaches the time and space to converse, connect, and collaborate. Base criteria for attendance includes 5 years of Coaching experience and 50+ clients. Experienced Coaches worldwide gather at CAM to learn and engage in stimulating conversation about issues that matter most—broadening minds, opening hearts, and pushing the boundaries of the coaching profession.
Also, you’ll get the chance to meet several of our IAC Board members in person, who are coming from around the globe to attend this event and will be hosting a reception regarding IAC membership opportunities. To learn more about CAM and review the invitation criteria, visit www.conversationamongmasters.com/gettinginvited.html.
This month, IAC® Certifying Examiner Natalie Tucker Miller introduces us to IAC®'s newest member of the certification board, Alison Davis, in this sparkling audio interview. Click here to listen [23:00]—We're sure you will appreciate the global flavour Alison brings to the team, and what Natalie calls Alison's "mastery in action."
Natalie Tucker Miller, IAC-CC, is a Certifying Examiner for the IAC and former IAC Board President, as well as an Instructor and Dean of Students at the School of Coaching Mastery. Additionally, Natalie is founder of Ageless-Sages.com, publisher of Picture Books for Elders™. Follow Natalie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NatalieTM
Media training is a specialised form of communication and presentation training, which equips corporate spokespeople, politicians and other topic experts to communicate effectively in media interviews.
I have been doing media training for many years–first gaining content and experience working for others, and then six years ago I began coaching my own private clients. Recently I've come full circle and rejoined a corporation, where I made media training an offering within the company.
Companies and individuals use media training to minimize their vulnerability of saying or doing something in front of the media that would damage their reputation. Early in my training career, I realised that the in-session coaching atmosphere is very important. While highlighting participants’ areas of personal and organisational vulnerability is intrinsic to my training sessions, the way people’s bubbles are pricked has to be sensitive to participants’ egos.
Consequently, I respect and encourage my participants as much as I can. I promise and deliver confidentiality and security of information. I try and make every session with a client a winner, working hard to make the experience fun and rewarding for them. I want participants to take away great information, great tools and significant behaviour change they can be confident in using.
Until this year, the practice has grown modestly and steadily, affording me a full-time salary and giving me the opportunity to directly train and coach hundreds of people to ‘perform’ in media interviews—including media commentators, journalists and people across many professions. I’ve also addressed hundreds more in speaking engagements.
As many of you also experiencing, the downturn has had a major effect on winning new business for my training practice. In corporations that would become my clients, formerly robust training budgets have been almost completely drained.
If you’ve been around for any time at all, you’re familiar with the theory and reality that it’s harder and more expensive to win new business from new clients (i.e., to convert prospects) than it is to win repeat business from clients. I have even seen research state that it’s 11 times more expensive to find and convert prospects than it is to resell to clients you already have.
This makes sense. With new prospects, you have to invest time and collateral materials to establish credibility and build a relationship. Existing clients, on the other hand, already know you and what you offer and how good the result is.
In my experience, it just hasn’t been that easy getting people to come back for more. My hope is that at the end of every half- or full-day session—the two most common formats for my training—the client would say, “That was great, I’ll see you again in a year for refresher training, or to take it to the next level.”
While corporations do rebook me to train new people, I don’t get the same people back for refresher training and further skills upgrade. Is it because they don't like the experience? I'd have to say no–clients regularly give me impressive testimonials. So then what is going on?
Most trainees seem to think that once is enough. For example, recently a corporation booked an executive to do my training. He resisted it, telling his company that because I coached him two years ago, “I already did media training.” In this case, because media coverage is creating heightened risk for the company, they forced the guy to come along.
After he finished the session he said that the refresher training was worth it (maybe he’ll even supply a reference quote on that topic), but how can I change people's minds about the need for repeat training?
My view is that people ‘leak.’ (This is akin to whichever Law of Thermodynamics says that things tend toward chaos.) Over time, without ongoing focus and attention, great skills and attitudes tend to fade, go rusty, lose their edge. Being motivated yesterday doesn’t mean that you don’t need to become re-motivated tomorrow. Being articulate last year doesn’t mean that you will be articulate next year, without some effort of your part.
How am I going to address these business challenges? Here are my conclusions and recommendations (to self) to date:
Survey former participants, asking them what they think about the need for continued or refresher media training and what would cause them to seek more training.
Add a note on my invoice with a suggested date to book your next refresher session. Also I can follow up directly by phone or email.
Evaluate and improve my services. Invite an observer in to give me objective feedback about the atmosphere in my sessions.
Continue to highlight during my sessions that for best ongoing results or to take it to the next level, come back for a tune-up session in six months or a year.
I hope to address VOICE readers in a future issue about how my efforts are paying off, and which of these strategies brought in the most repeat business.
Antoni Lee is the principal of media and communication training practice for Redact, based in Sydney, Australia. His clients include prominent spokespeople, journalists, professionals and representatives of multinational corporations across the Asia Pacific. You can reach him at email@example.com or www.redact.com.au.
How the FOE Index can help us achieve Mastery #3 – Engaged Listening
by Aileen Gibb
One of the greatest gifts that we as coaches give to our clients is the gift of engaged listening. Few people experience truly great listening in their normal day-to-day activities and yet we all yearn to be truly heard. As coaches, we are privileged to create a place for people to be heard, and where they can hear the answers and potential that lie within them. In order to listen well to our client, we have to first listen well to ourselves, constantly being aware of our own voices and consciously choosing what we hear in ourselves and in our clients.
To prepare for coaching, the coach listens to her or his own heart and head. She or he takes steps to quiet all distractions, to clear all personal thoughts and feelings and to clear her or his energetic field so that she or he is fully focussed on the client.
Checking your FOE index (introduced to me by CFM Consulting, Scotland) is one way to do this, and involves three questions: How FOCUSSED am I for this coaching conversation? How OPEN am I to whatever emerges? And, do I have the ENERGY needed for a great coaching session? A low response to any of these requires the coach to step back and take time to become more fully prepared to do engaged listening.
"Suitcasing" is a technique a coach can use to reach that fully focussed, open and energised state for coaching. Using a visualisation of a suitcase, acknowledge everything that's in your own head, heart and energy field (e.g., what to make for dinner, the argument you had with your teenage daughter that morning, the nagging ache in your back from gardening on the weekend–yes, you’re human too). Visualise putting all those distraction in an open suitcase, closing the lid and locking it. Everything will be waiting for you to come back to after you’ve effectively served your client with a great coaching session.
Becoming fully present is crucial to engaged listening. The Buddhist monk Thich Nat Hahn offers another wonderful exercise for settling into our listening space as coaches. He suggests three breaths–the first to let go of whatever we may be holding; the second to touch our still mind and become fully present; and the third breath to ask what now wants to come into the space. This is a wonderful exercise to use in preparation for coaching, and I also use it during a coaching conversation. It is particularly useful when a client reaches a significant or potentially challenging emotional point in the conversation.
Being fully engaged in a coaching conversation requires that as a coach you listen on multiple levels and become skilled in knowing which level you’re listening on at each point in the conversation. One of my colleagues compares this to the Windows operating system on our computers. Our listening brain becomes a series of windows or files that we open, close, store and retrieve constantly during a coaching conversation:
We have a process file that we check regularly to see where we are in the process of the conversation;
We have a content file where we store parts of the client’s story and which we may save temporarily, re-open, and link to other parts of their story to help them make sense of it;
We have our personal file which needs to be blocked to prevent things from our own story popping up and interfering with our listening;
We have our timekeeping file which enables us to manage the time available for the conversation in a way that’s not obvious to the client;
We have an instant messaging file which highlights repeated words or statements emerging in the client’s conversation and which we add to as these turn into habitual language or patterns which we then reflect back to the client;
We have a questions file where we access powerful questioning techniques to move our client forward with their goals; and
We have an intuitive file which alerts us like an RSS blog feed to signals, emotions, energies, disturbances or signs of excitement which suggest our client has reached a vital learning or transformation point.
We also have one ear open to the outer world while we are coaching, alert to what’s going on in the environment around us and our client and taking appropriate action to optimise or negate anything external which affects the focus of the conversation.
For a coach, listening well is a lifetime commitment. It’s not something you turn on when you’re coaching; it’s something you practice constantly. Like athletes, we must keep our listening muscles fully toned and in top form by exercising them in each and every conversation; particularly the ones we find more challenging, because that’s where we can stretch our listening capacity and become even more accomplished.
Aileen Gibb is founder and lead coach with IC International, a company dedicated to inspiring a better future in life and work. Her current focus is to attract 12 courageous leaders each year to participate in an inspirational coaching journey to transform their life, work and leadership. Her new website www.inspiredfuture.org is coming soon. In the meantime she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mastery #7 – Helping the Client Set and Keep Clear Intentions
Last month we talked about Mastery #6, Clarifying. Regardless of their training or coaching specialty, coaches agree that clarifying is essential. Equally agreed upon is Mastery #7, Helping the Client Set and Keep Clear Intentions.
No matter what type of coaching you offer, helping the client stay focused on goals, feel capable, and be inspired toward next steps or experiences are all intended outcomes of your work. The content or focus area of the intentions may differ, but the need for them will not. For example, business, career and executive coaching may tend to focus on achievement, accomplishment, specific tasks or measurable outcomes, while spiritual and life coaching may focus on awareness and experiences, with outcomes that are less tangible or measurable. Either way, all of these are goals you help the client set and keep.
When helping the client set and keep clear intentions, the role of the coach is not to set the goals for the client, or even to determine what would constitute success or progress. Instead, the role of the coach is to help the client clarify the direction of progress and remain mindful of what is most important.
We’ve all had clients who take a lot of action but don’t really get anywhere. (We may even do that ourselves, at times!) Just because they are busy does not mean they are moving in the direction of their goals. In fact, a common avoidance strategy is to stay really busy so they don’t have to face the difficult actions or scary issues associated with the intended goals. Often the client is not aware that they are using an avoidance strategy. Therefore, a key distinction in this mastery is recognizing the difference between progress and movement, and helping the client recognize this distinction for themselves.
Nina East is the IAC®’s Lead Certifier and the founder of www.PersonalGrowthPrincess.com, a site for business owners and professional women who are enthusiastic about personal growth. As a coach, she helps personal growth professionals turn creative edge thinking into practical tools and resources, and helps coaches master the art of coaching.
We'd love to get your feedback on any issue related to the IAC. Do you have any questions, concerns, encouragement or ideas for improvement regarding membership benefits, certification, the VOICE, the direction of the organization or anything else at all? Please send an email to email@example.com. Please help us improve.
The IAC® is a community of progressive and diverse coaches. With coaches from 80 countries, and even more languages, from all walks of life, you’ll have no trouble finding a coach or colleague you can connect with. If you are a client, this is a great way to find the most masterful coaches in the world! *
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