I’ve been running a series of CPD Workshops for Executive Coaches in the first few months of this year. One of the topics we worked on was entitled: Coaching Leaders through Mid Life Transition. This attracted a lot of interest, and all of the coaches – a wide diversity from Scotland and N Ireland – were hungry for information on this topic!
Let me share with you some of what we discussed.
- This is a hot topic. When we’re coaching managers and leaders in their mid to late 40’s and 50’s, we are likely to encounter issues of mid life transition
- What is ‘mid life transition’?! Well, it’s not what we tend to stereotype as a ‘mid life crisis’. Because it’s not a crisis. It’s a stage of growth in our lives. If our coachee is asking deep questions of themselves, such as ‘What’s it all about?’, ‘What’s the point of me putting my all into my work?’ or ‘I’m not as driven by achievement (or money, or status, or the nature of my work) as I used to be…’ – then chances are, we’re on a mid life transition issue
- And……this applies to us too as coaches! Many of us are in a similar place, or had been in the last few years (indeed, was that why some of us became coaches?!)
- So…..how do we understand it? And importantly, how do we help our coachees through it?
As Executive Coaches we quite rightly put a real focus on our clients, ensuring we are ‘match fit’ as we turn up to see them, and giving them 100%.
But do we do the same for ourselves? Or do our busy lives mean that we never quite get round to this – taking a bit of time for ourselves and recharging our batteries?
I have to admit, it took a long time for the penny to drop for me! By this I mean, if I’m putting myself ‘bottom of the pile’ – looking after everyone else first, taking care of clients’ and others’ needs – that there are actually a few problems with this.
- First off, I can’t do it for ever, or I will burn out. No matter how strong I am and how well I think I’m coping with all the pressure!
- Secondly, I’m not actually ‘practicing what I preach’. As I work with coaching clients to support them to live healthy work lives, deal with adversity, overcome challenges, step into their higher selves – I need to be authentic and able to do this for myself. Look after myself. Modelling this is so important, whether or not I actually articulate this with my clients.
- Thirdly, from a systems perspective, looking after self, being resilient in the force field of organisational systems, and helping others to do this too, is so important in today’s organisations. I see ‘resilience’ appear more and more in organisations sets of competencies for their people and their leaders.
I was reading an HBR article today The Art of Giving and Receiving Advice. The title piqued my interest. I often get into discussions with trainee coaches, on the thorny topic of ‘giving advice’!
It is intriguing to think that there could actually be an art to giving advice, but of course, as you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
In the article Edgar Schein said that Advisers can slip up in a couple of ways:
I’ve been thinking about listening a lot recently, as I’m working with several new action learning groups. Action learning is a process whereby a small group of colleagues come together to help each other work through issues or challenges, by asking questions rather than giving advice. The process of asking questions can lead to surprising insights and new ways of seeing things, enabling the ‘issue-holder’ to find their own way forward in a situation where there is no perfect solution. Groups usually meet about half-a-dozen times, for a period of up to a year, and it’s fascinating to see the shift between questioning and listening over this time.
What I have noticed is that at the beginning of the group’s life, there is a strong drive to ask questions, sometimes at the expense of actually listening to what the issue holder is saying. Continue reading
This HBR Blog rings true for me, given my experience of working with leaders at all levels in organisations today. For anyone interested in giving these ideas a go, try Wendy Palmer’s APP (Leadership Embodiment; Centering Practice) – I find the four daily reminders really useful!
I keep circling this one….in varied conversations and training and coaching situations. The skills which coaches build and master, are, I believe, absolutely fundamental to managers and leaders in today’s organisations. I’m referring to skills such as – the ability to have an artful conversation, the ability to ask questions of others, to probe deeply, in a genuinely curious way and a way which doesn’t get others’ backs up, and finally, the ability to present one’s view in a potent yet truly respectful way.
Why do I say this?
I shall relay some recent experiences.
Not too long ago I completed four days of training for executive coaches. We covered skills work from the Advocacy-Inquiry model, we talked about Dialogue, and we got really interested in ‘good questions’ (for Peter Senge’s description of Advocacy, Inquiry and Dialogue please go here). Continue reading
A Guest Blog by Prof Paul Bishop
There’s a very common stereotype about Germans: they are logical, rational, and efficient. They work hard, and they are economically successful: Germany is the land of the Wirtschaftswunder. And it’s true that the German economy is still booming away, while in Britain the deficit seems to grow ever larger.
But as anyone who’s spent a bit of time in Germany knows, it’s much more complicated than that. The flip-side to their rationality is an intense, and sometimes surprising, interest in religion and in spirituality, in psychoanalysis, even in the esoteric. Their industry makes huge profits, but the Germans are also interested in quality of life. Continue reading
A guest blog by Dr Simon Western:
Are your clients coming expecting to be healed or repaired, or for you to stroke their egos and tell them they can achieve their dreams? Or is there a third way? Coaching finds itself wedged between two contemporary social and psychological dimensions – the wounded-self and the celebrated-self. In my recent book Coaching and Mentoring: a critical text (2012) I introduce coaching as a developmental activity that has emerged to bridge these two positions:
The ‘Wounded Self’ refers to a self that is damaged, fragmented or emotionally hurt and is the home territory of psychotherapists and psychologists. Psychotherapists look for the ‘Wounded Self’ – this is their expertise, their business. They offer therapeutic intervention (the talking cure) and reparation. The contemporary self is a much more feeling and reflective self and in this complex world we are constantly in need of therapeutic intervention to address our ‘issues’ and todays belief has turned the 1950’s notion of having pride in ‘a stiff upper lip’ upside down; now, emoting and crying are praised, and we all agree ‘it’s good to talk’. Continue reading