Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Mentor Coaching – Courageously Disrupt: A time for coaches and leaders to generate conscious choice

Mentor Coaching – Courageously Disrupt: A time for coaches and leaders to generate conscious choice

We recently published an issue on mentor coaching called “Courageously Disrupt: A time for coaches and leaders to generate conscious choice written by Janet M. Harvey, MCC, CMS, ACS

Might you have a visceral reaction from being told disruption is a serious challenge? Most of you reading this magazine in the year 2021 recognize the emotional, mental and physical effect of living in a constant state of disruption outside of your control.

Whether you think about this condition of disruption as an unwelcome intruder, a natural cycle in nature, a principle of economics (creative destruction) or a consequence of human actions, the state of being disrupted may not be ignored today. You are susceptible to COVID-19 simply by being alive on the planet right now. You are also impacted by air pollution, insecurity, police brutality, governmental insecurity, police brutality, governmental incompetence and corruption, wars, and your internal refusal to see the world as it is.

I’m sharing a bit of tough love because as coaches, we do have an invaluable opportunity to evoke awareness that both heals and emboldens each person.

I recently listened to a podcast with author David Brooks as the guest talking about his research for his recent book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. His way of describing our current disruption is as a social and relational crisis. That describes what I’ve been talking about with clients.

Leaders are beginning to realize that the real work begins now. Everyone is learning to shift their relationship to the meaning of work, the new and diverse needs of a hybrid workforce and ways to recover from the long experience of consistent stress and trauma in our lives since the beginning of the pandemic. Mental health is on our minds a lot these days as coaches, and no wonder.

A January 2021 report shows that 36 percent of all Americans feel serious loneliness, including 61 percent of young adults and 51 percent of mothers with young children. Brooks also examined a substantial increase in diagnosed depression, and the fastest growing political and religious affiliation category is ‘unaffiliated.’

Connection and belonging are attributes of being human that are hardwired in our DNA and are seriously deficient in today’s climate, both personally and professionally. Put another way, our hearts yearn for fusion, in a similar way to parents who love their children more than evolution requires. All of this points to the importance of putting relationships first, which in the wise words of social psychologist Edgar Schein, is the fundamental unit of human society.

What I observe with clients both directly and what they are reporting from their teams and workforce, is that the pain people are feeling is not being transformed through healing; it is being transmitted to others. Workplace incivility is on the rise.

Before the pandemic, seven in 10 Americans believed incivility had hit crises levels. There are so many examples of inequity across industries and sectors, including education and government, it is head spinning disruption to contemplate.

So, what does all of this mean for coaching? I will boldly declare that we must initiate and invite change, and to that end, I am boldly asking clients to pause and reflect. Our value and contribution for clients is to evoke awareness, especially in times that are unfamiliar, likely uncomfortable, filled with uncertainty and unknown information, process or outcomes.

When we look more deeply into the definition of coaching, “partnering with clients in a creative and thought-provoking process,” we see the roots of permission that too many coaches deny themselves. I encourage you to lean into partnership, invite a wider lens to look into the client’s experience in the context that they bring to the coaching relationship.

Also include the external influences that arise from their context and stimulate their worldview, the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and stories they adopt as the truth. We are in partnership with the whole being, always.

I offer space and questions to be curious about their habits, preferences, assumptions and biases. Any of these four, and often more than one operating in unison, are what unconsciously drives decisions and actions. In a world disrupted, the necessity to short-circuit our autopilot responses must become a priority. This is the first step to awaken consciousness.

Our presence and courage to challenge clients to look more deeply within initiates the generative experience. Through our partnership, exploring what’s not yet known, clients begin to appreciate what motivates what they see and how they draw conclusions, in order to discover whether that rhythm in their life matches with the new reality of today. Most often it doesn’t. Seeing the mismatch opens the door to consider a new basis for decisions, ones that are more inclusive and equitable by adopting a social mindset. Evoking awareness in this more holistic fashion supports leaders to open up thinking, feeling and acting with clear-eyed consciousness.

Job one for leaders is creating the climate for an exceptional experience of being enlivened with colleagues and customers and ultimately in their communities. A major disruption arises from changed expectations of customers and the workforce that leaders in enterprises of any kind adopt and act upon based on a social mindset.

Leaders must personally experience being enlivened or the status quo will stay entrenched and post-disruption innovation will fail. Coaching partnerships can and must invite this change; in partnership with everyone, we engage.

Tell us what you think about this issue and this Coaching Mastery article.

How does it apply to you and the women in your life?
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