Last year I took the course, Interpersonal Dynamics of Executive Coaching taught by Keith Wilson at Cambridge University UK. This was my first introduction into the world of executive coaching which Keith described as a taster program to help us understand the intricate world of coaching. In that course Keith had us read a paper titled Organization-in-the-Mind by Jean Hutton, John Bazzalgette, and Bruce Read. This study deals with how individuals manage and react in a work environment having to deal with both their own values, those of the organization and those of their superiors and counterparts. “Organization -in-the mind” is about what is happening inside my own head is my perception and reality and has to be distinguished from the reality that is out there”. This article provided insight for me that for many years I was not always living my values, and often adjusting rightly or wrongly to the intentions of others I came into contact with. I had built two Ed’s one public and one private and I worked hard to keep my private Ed very private. I had over the years rebuilt the public Ed to suit work politics, changing bosses, and the image I thought would help me succeed in business. Often this public Ed’s values conflicted with the private Ed. I was just living this and had not considered or even thought about how these two differed.
The other paper Keith had us read was Gallweys Inner Game. Gallweys formula of Performance = potential – interference made me much more self-aware of how at work and in private I could perform much better if I paid less attention to gossip and rumors and really concentrated on my own values and beliefs. There was a time that I was caught up in the nickname of “Director of Rumor Control”. I thought that being aware of what was going on politically in the company would help me have the edge. I now can see that it detracted from my achieving a higher level of performance.
I can now see the hours spent discussing why “the boss” was acting the way he was wasn’t helpful in achieving the results I or the company wanted. I have now learned to become more open and self-reflective.
I think that this new self-awareness manifested itself in a quick coaching session in our current class in the fall semester when Zsuzanna took me totally by surprise. Time was short and we almost didn’t do it . Somehow, some way Zsuznna was able to be the perfect sounding board. She was able to get me to go deep and kept asking the right opened ended questions. I can’t remember this ever happening to me before. My public self would have always had me on guard to not go off track from the image I had built. I have always thought I was empathetic and caring but for whatever reason I had always been looking outward and not inward. In my mind all the values I have were formed when I was ten years old.
The article Keith had us read and the short coaching with Zsuzanna has helped me to become more present when I am coaching. Both have helped me be less the advisor and more the listener. I also think that both of these have made me understand the need for a safe environment not only for myself as a coach but also for the person I am coaching.
This is a journey for me and it’s interesting to be having it at this time in my life. Before I started this education process I would have considered I had all the answers, having experienced more than the average person and having lived all over the world in different cultures. Now I am much more reflective into not only what I have experienced, but also what each day and interaction with others brings.