Monthly Archives: February 2020

A meeting of minds

In the Our Philosophy section of our website we mention the meeting of minds from two different backgrounds and perspectives.

How have we applied our minds to making the most of these qualities in growing a business and serving our clients over the years?

The two main areas of Coaching Café’s expertise and experience are online leadership and life coaching on the one hand and the design and facilitation of learning material and processes on the other.

Although we come from very different academic and career backgrounds, there are many bridges between our personal philosophies, experience and expertise that create a strong foundation for our work in our personal lives and in the world. Not only do these bridges connect us as individuals and our areas of interest and work; they are also the foundation of our connections with our clients.

Here is a light-hearted yet serious look at some of the principles and beliefs that we believe create the bridges to connect all areas of our work:

  • Everything starts with the individual. Our coaching approach and our learning designs start where you’re at and help to position you within all the different contexts of your personal and professional life
  • We believe everyone has the innate potential to create their best life and in doing so make the impact they want and are meant to make in the world
  • We have a deep understanding of how learning happens for individuals, teams and organisations. All our interactions are designed to create inner and outer spaces conducive to learning
  • We know how to make learning enjoyable and rewarding – our learning processes are refreshing and create engagement. No more death by Powerpoint!
  • Our systems thinking approach means that we always look for the interplay between all the systems that are relevant for individuals, teams and organisations and how they impact one another
  • We believe language is a really powerful tool in learning and so we use words with care to reflect the way we choose to work and that resonate with our clients and ourselves. Some examples are: true, authentic, alignment, clarity,engagement, purpose. Be on the lookout for more of these powerful words on our website!
  • We really listen to our clients: to the words they use, their non-verbal or body language and what is said between the lines or not at all
  • We choose to view people through the lens of their natural talents and inspire them to develop these talents into strengths
  • We know that questions, especially good questions, are the key to learning. We love crafting a question in the moment that tunes into the client’s thinking, expands the way they view themselves and their world and creates opportunities for learning, reflection and growth
  • We are driven to share what we know, transferring skills and knowledge appropriately, whether through mentoring, consulting or providing support in other ways
  • We aim to be true facilitators in all interactions. To facilitate means to make things easier (facile = easy). Whether working with groups or individuals, we endeavour to clear a path for our clients to see the way forward and navigate obstacles on the way to their true selves

If you’re curious about how this approach could work for you, your team or your organization, contact us for a complimentary discussion.

What does working with purpose and passion really mean?

Recently I read Morten T. Hansen’s book “Great At Work – how top performers do less, work better and achieve more” where he offers clear, simple, quite analytical ways of looking at Purpose and Passion and claims that PxP is what we require, one without the other is not enough. Because I love taking concepts and trying them out in reality, I decided to test his “model” against reality and then against our True Leadership® framework.

So Hansen describes Purpose as “What I do to create value” or “What I give to the world” and Passion as “What I love to do”, or “What the world gives me”. It makes sense to me and is in line, I think, with what is generally understood by Purpose and Passion. 

He illustrates the stages of living your Purpose as a pyramid, where the foundation is “Create Value and Do No Harm”, the second level is “Find Personal Meaning in the Value You Create” and the pinnacle of the pyramid is “Social Mission”. 

Discussing Passion, Hansen says that not every one is blessed with intrinsic motivation for the work they do,  but Passion can also be triggered by Achievement, Creativity, People, Learning and Competence.

What a difference it would make if we were all living with Passion and Purpose, doing what you love and adding value to your context in a way that is meaningful to you and the world you choose to impact.

Can Purpose and Passion get in the way of each other? 

What I discovered in reflecting on my own and others lives is that Purpose and Passion certainly can get in the way of each other. I know for myself, and many  other people, clients and colleagues, that at some time in our careers we have been so focused on creating value, by meeting expectations set for us or goals we set ourselves, that we did not even consider that “doing what we love” is important or even viable. Many who have matured on the “Purpose Pyramid” to the point of being on a “Social Mission” often don’t mind whether they “love what they do” or not, as long as they serve their Social Mission.

Looking at it the other way round, many, again clients and colleagues, so love what they do and time passes so fast, that they never move past the foundation stage of the “Purpose Pyramid.” They create value because generally they are applying their talents. Even if they are not intrinsically motivated by what they do, achievement, creativity, people, learning and becoming competent fills their life with enough satisfaction so that they do not look for meaning in what they do, they just have fun doing it. 

So what can facilitate our developing our Purpose and Passion in parallel?

It’s not rocket science, it’s the place where all self development starts – self awareness.

In our True Leadership® framework our approach to Self Leadership raises self awareness and helps participants  to align the work they do with both their Purpose and their Passion (as described by Morten T Hansen in his book Great at Work). 

  • We encourage our clients to know and apply their talents, which means they create greater value more easily (Purpose) and experience Achievement, Learning and Competence(Passions)
  • Our clients focus on discovering how their goals are met by serving the goals of the organisation, adding personal meaning to the value they create (Purpose) and experiencing Achievement as a result (Passion) 
  • Being aware of their values, our clients are encouraged to make decisions in line with those values which means the companies they choose to join and the value they create are meaningful to them (Purpose) and there is more of a sense of belonging (People Passion)
  • Developing their awareness of others and focusing on behaving in a way that builds trust, causes no harm (Purpose) and broadens the horizon of their impact as well as adding to the enjoyment of being part of a team (People Passion)

Leaders that have the courage to challenge and support the members of their team to discover and align their Purpose and Passion with their professional lives will create engaged and high performing teams. 

Organisations, part of whose Purpose it is to create a culture which elevates employee fulfilment,  will achieve better performance and greater impact on their communities.

If this resonates with how you think about your own Purpose and Passion or that of your team and organisation and would like to explore this further contact us for a complimentary discussion…..

Life long learning in organisations

In our previous blog, we quoted the World Economic Forum’s view that life long learning keeps us relevant in the world of work and in our personal lives.

How can we go about making this happen in practice?

Most of us tend to think of learning as something we do in the earlier part of our development in a formal learning context and in the early stages of our career.

What if we were to broaden our view of learning to include life long learning and at the same time to cover all learning in all aspects of our personal and professional lives, not just academic learning?

The fascinating TED talk by Eduardo Briceno  (view link) highlights the importance of learning in all areas of our lives where we want to improve, ranging from our relationships to our performance at work. He suggests creating “learning zones” distinct from performance zones where we can be free to practice new skills in a safe environment.

Most organisations today are structured according to teams. Teams can act as ideal learning zones that provide support and space for team members to grow and learn in all respects. However, when teams operate as completely independent units within an organization, opportunities to learn are restricted and performance may be compromised.

As an example, a company exporting fruit internationally was facing complaints from suppliers due to delayed and incorrect payments. When the operational team that liaised with the suppliers spent time interacting with the accounts team, they discovered that details which they had viewed as less important in their submissions to the accounts team were in fact critical for creating payment schedules. The teams were able to discuss the challenges each one experienced and gained a better understanding of the links between them. Payments became more streamlined as a result. The learning for both teams went beyond the processes that needed to be followed: relationships were strengthened and a climate of support was created between the two areas of the business.

They had in fact created a learning zone where they set time aside to understand their respective needs. This resulted in improvement in the performance zones for both teams and the organization as a whole.

So why does this not happen more frequently in our organisations when creating these spaces can produce such positive results?

Possibly some of our ideas and assumptions about how learning happens can actually undermine and get in the way of how we learn in orgaisations: this is understandable when we look at the main ways in which most learning is structured at both school and tertiary levels:

  • The focus is on individual performance, which can give rise to comparisons and competition
  • Although there may be some team or group work, sharing of information (“copying”) is generally not acceptable and can in fact land you in a lot of trouble!
  • Subject areas are mostly viewed as separate from one another, e.g. economics and history

It’s quite easy to become stuck in this “school” mindset or paradigm with regard to learning when we enter the world of work.

In the world of work a different learning mindset is needed:

Of course, individual performance is important in a team, but in contrast to a “school” situation, cooperation and sharing of information is critical.  Sharing individual learning within a team benefits other team members and the team as a whole.

All teams and functions are inter-dependent: everyone needs to understand the total landscape of the organization.

How do we go about creating these spaces for better understanding, learning and sharing in organisations? At Coaching Café we are experienced in designing learning processes that enhance both individual and team knowledge. We will continue to explore how we do that in the next few blogs

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