Coaching: Tough Stuff

Transformational thinking is gaining traction as key to unlocking leadership development and improving business performance for beleaguered senior executives faced with mounting pressures on business and personal life.
Transformational? It’s been under the radar for about 40 years but now emerging as the critical ingredient to cognitive development. significant first step is taking quiet time, thinking of different and creative ways to plan for the future and solve issues of the day.
Angela Neighbours, director of executive development and coaching company, ilume International, and master coach of the International Coaching Community (ICC), explains the transformational journey is not just about focusing on business growth. It is also about taking into account the impact of the work environment and social emotional behaviour.
“Transforming ourselves is tough stuff. Leaders need guidance and support to make this inner journey. It can be threatening and naturally resisted,” she says.
“Every day we see executives becoming stuck in the tyranny of the urgent which has become distraction. Emails, phone calls, back-to-back meetings, travel and client interaction can suck up precious time. Instead, executives need clarity, efficiency and an ability to be calm, to be rigorous in decision making. They need to ask what is going to benefit the organisation, their people and themselves.”
Neighbours explains: “Many executives know they think well. However, their thinking and problem solving is based on knowledge of what might have been successful in the past. But now in world of complexity and busyness, time pressure and time paucity bring added stress.
“ilume assists with the transformation by benchmarking person’s position across all three components – cognitive thinking ability, emotional stance and the work environment. This is research-based global product that results in 16-page report that is evidence based. This leads the plan for development.”
Added to the dilemma of everyday pressures, senior executives are also challenged by succession planning and identifying future leaders of the business.
“In country where we are used to ‘stepping up’, people are asking what we are doing to develop our leaders of the future and how someone can hold themselves accountable for that.”
Neighbours says with the increasing complexity of big business, leaders can’t know what is happening day-to-day across the entire organisation. Ninety percent of the success factor of their role is the ability to develop others, hire well and create career pathways for people.
“Being clear on where you are going and embedding culture is the answer. What could almost be described as over-communication at every part of the journey within an organisation is critical.”
Neighbours, her business partner Raechel Ford and world-accredited coaching team, are breaking new ground in spreading the message of transformational thinking to an expanding blue chip client list of global and local companies in New Zealand and Australia.
Combining nearly 40 years of corporate and coaching experience, Neighbours, Ford and their team are working with “intuitive” mind and evidence-based developmental coaching which brings out what ilume describes as the “hidden dimensions”.
“This embodies the difference between the horizontal and vertical matrix of behaviour and development,” says Neighbours. “Too much time has been spent on horizontal development – our competencies – and very little on vertical development – adult developmental stages.
“The methods for horizontal and vertical development are very different. Horizontal development can be transmitted by an expert – mentor, teacher or professor – while vertical development must be earned for oneself.
“Not only do executives need to grow and change, but they must also change within themselves. The shift they are looking for in their organisations begins with themselves and fundamental change in their behaviours, minds and hearts. Their consciousness must shift in order for them to be able to see how to act in way that can address the challenges of the times.”
Neighbours describes “self calibration” as the important tool for leadership development.
“Working with inner obstacles allows us to inquire deeply into the source of self limitation and unconscious behaviour that does not support what we have chosen. Often we are looking for superficial fixes which will not work for the long term.” M

Shifting behaviour

At 48, Greg Warren is “young” transformational thinker. General manager of Orica’s mining chemical systems division, he’s directly responsible for 100 staff and global, annual revenue of $1 billion. His time with the company spans 24 years.
He commutes regularly between Sydney and Melbourne and across the world, much of the time engaging with his core team and others, developing his people and the business.
His executive coaching journey started in Wellington when general manager of Dulux NZ in 2005.
“I used to lead teams. I expressed my views. I believed and often acted as though I knew all the answers.”
With his introduction to executive coaching, Warren realised that for the business to prosper he had to shift his behaviour from one of just giving answers to building better outcomes through deeper thinking of his team.
Today, his message is plain and simple: “What I have learnt most of all is not to be constrained by past thinking but to be creative, to explore future orientations.”
The journey to transformational thinking enabled Warren to understand himself, and his handling of, and impact on, various business situations. He’s learnt to trust his staff and to focus more on the future. For their part, staff have had to understand their sphere of influence and take responsibility for day-to-day business.
He recalls, “the management team decided we would not get involved in any day-to-day decision-making for six months and focus entirely on decision-making and strategy beyond the annual financial horizon.
“It took while but the change in the culture was fantastic. The business didn’t fall over. In fact, we unearthed new leaders who embraced their increased responsibilities. big part of it was providing clarity, trusting my staff and having trust in myself to let go.
“Now I request my team to understand that it is okay not to agree with me, and encourage openness. They don’t have to pretend. It’s okay that they have different way of leading. But I have told them if they don’t feel comfortable with where they’re going, we can work it out together.
“Today, executive coaching for me is an ongoing journey of exploration and personal development. It truly has been transformational. Some of the coaching principles I have learnt from ilume I have been able to pass on to my team.”

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