Coaching at Work Annual Conference 2016: Maintaining Momentum: Coaching and Mentoring in a VUCA world

London, London
Wednesday, 06 July 2016


9:40 - 10:25 Keynote 1:  Keep a green tree in your heart: coaching for a VUCA world - Hetty Einzig

'Keep a green tree in your heart' is the first part of a Chinese proverb.  This keynote will sketch the broad lines of the VUCA world we inhabit and the effect this has on us, notably heightening anxiety. In addition to our perennial anxieties of identity and mortality, are new existential anxieties, exacerbated by living in a 24/7-networked world, digitally plugged into the global mainframe and where arbitrary terror has become a feature of urban life.  However there are other trends in our VUCA world that bode well, bringing positive new energy to our workplace landscape.   I outline the ten elements of New Generation Coaching which is emerging to meet the needs of leaders today.  Keeping a green tree in our heart will enable coaches to engage with the complexity of this VUCA environment... and discover the second part of the proverb!

10:30 - 11:30 Case Study 1:  News UK: Coaching against the cultural tide - James Hutton

Sharing the story of coaching at News UK, focusing on the internal coaching scheme from the proposal and systemic aims through to current day, over 4 years on.

We will describe how coaching delivers ‘against’ the cultural tide in a fast paced, deadline driven environment. With the need to remain agile to the ever changing media landscape, which in many ways typifies the VUCA world.

In this session we will cover:

  • Our approach and rationale for introducing internal coaching.
  • How coaching is used in the organisation.
  • Results and successes for both the coaches and coachees.
  • Challenges faced and how we overcame these.
  • How we have built and maintained momentum.
  • Future plans for coaching at News UK.
  • Recommendations for introducing internal coaching capability to an organisation.
10:30 - 11:30 Workshop/Research 1A:  Mindful Compassionate Coaching in a VUCA world: developing coach and clients' compassion for self and others - Liz Hall

Compassion is set to be one of the next Big Things in coaching. It’s increasingly talked about in relation to the workplace, in leadership, in healthcare, and now, coaching.

Compassion and mindfulness go hand-in-hand, and to be at our best as coaches, as human beings, we need both, particularly in this VUCA climate. In fact, although mindfulness is currently all the rage, it could easily join the overflowing management fad scrapheap despite its vast evidence base and having roots in tried-and-tested teachings thousands of years old - partly because all too often, the core element of compassion (for self and others) is under-developed.

Certainly developing compassion, for oneself in particular, is no mean feat, and in challenging times, compassion - for self and others - can often go out of the window just when it’s most needed.  But there are many benefits to be gained. Far from being about being self-indulgent and wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve, hard evidence is emerging on tangible benefits of developing compassion. These benefits, including improved mental and physical wellbeing, and improved relationships, have high relevance to us as coaches, and to our clients.

In this interactive session, we will:

  • Look at what we mean by compassion, and explore how it dovetails with mindfulness
  • Highlight some of the latest research on potential benefits of developing compassion (and mindfulness)
  • Explore how we might develop compassion for self and others- for ourselves as coaches, and among clients.
10:30 - 11:30 Workshop 1B:  Working Together: creating effective multi-stakeholder contracting - Eve Turner & Prof Peter Hawkins

“I thought I knew what the coaching objectives were, but the manager has called me without my client’s knowledge, to tell me that there’s been no improvement, and it doesn’t relate to anything we discussed, what do I do?” 

“My client says his manager isn’t giving him the support he needs to achieve his coaching objectives, what do I do?” 

These are just some examples of dilemmas that coaches, mentors or consultants have brought to us in supervision.

In this interactive research and practice session on contracting which involves multi-stakeholders, we will look at cases from the perspectives of coach, organization and individual client.  How can this form of contracting, increasingly used by organizations, be done in a way that serves all the parties involved and the wider system, while paying attention to the needs and confidentiality of the individual?  We will examine the impact, challenges and benefits of multi-stakeholder contracting and address dilemmas you bring.  To support this, we will outline the key findings of our global research project which involved several hundred participants worldwide (as reported in Coaching at Work Vol 11, issue 1 pp32-37).  This will include sharing best practice for successful and effective multi-stakeholder contracting, as drawn from the research participants.  We will also gather your questions and suggestions through small and large group discussions to add to the top tips we will be sharing. 

11:50 - 12:50 Case Study 2:  Accelerating Difference at GSK – or how an innovative approach to coaching can shift culture! - Sally Bonneywell

Learn how using coaching in an innovative way can make a significant difference to an organisation. At GSK we have used individual coaching and group coaching simultaneously to help address a key issue – that of the gender ratio at all levels of leadership teams. In this session Sally Bonneywell, VP and Head of Coaching at GSK will share candidly what worked, what didn’t, what was learned from participants, coaches and organisational perspectives and how the impact was measured and evaluated.

11:50 - 12:50 Workshop/Research 2A:  When VUCA rocks your world - Kathryn Jackson

How Peak Performance Coaching is helping to rebuild Christchurch, New Zealand

It is 22 February 2011.

One minute you’re working with a client, supporting them in thinking through how to get their career back on track after an enormous earthquake four months earlier displaced their employer and resulted in redundancy.

What happened in the next 10 seconds changed the course of history in the Garden City forever; with 185 lives lost, businesses and homes destroyed and nerves shattered. A record breaking earthquake with an epicentre almost in the city itself.

During this workshop, Christchurch based Executive Coach Kathryn Jackson will share how Christchurch has found a platform for hope and resilience during times of operating under “Extreme VUCA” circumstances.  She will also outline her own story of resilience, including the tools and resources that helped her personally.

Learn how coaching is providing valuable and demonstrable support for leaders operating under extra challenging conditions, hear some of the findings from the Resilient Organisations research and explore how the lessons from Christchurch might contribute to influencing your own coaching and mentoring experience within a VUCA environment.

11:50 - 12:50 Workshop 2B:  Mentoring in CQC - Lis Merrick and Vicki Bartlett

Vicki and Lis will draw on their development of a mentoring programme for the Care Quality Commission, which was launched earlier in 2016.  The programme was set up to support some key groups of employees within the CQC as well as to move the culture from one of a training organisation to a culture of development.  No easy task, with a significant homeworking staff population,who are working with ongoing change across the health and social care sector.

The case study will explore and focus on:

  • The design of the programme and how the team overcame some of the pressures and challenges of the current VUCA environment
  • The initial outcomes of the programme and the impact these are having on the programme direction.

13:50 - 14:35 Keynote 2:  Complexity, Contradiction, Connection and Collaboration: 4 Stories and a Proposition - The Role of Coach in the 21st Century? - Dr Anthony Kasozi

We live work and coach in a world of increasing and challenging complexity. As Coaches we are often called upon to work with people and organisations that are feeling torn by the complexities and contradictions of their fast changing environments.  They feel stretched and want to confront, or at least to learn to live with, the trials they face. Each day brings us and our clients unexpected, new and at times very difficult questions. Even when we are at our best, these demands coming at us incessantly in the midst of our day to day tribulations are at best startling and testing and at worst confusing and frightening.

Yet responding to complexity can be framed as nothing new, something which we have all faced over and over again and ought to be masters of by now. Typically, we are challenged in our perspectives because:

  • Experiences of complexity are all relative – so effective responses may be simply a matter of awareness, openness, resourcefulness or view point.
  • The contradictions that complexity creates can be seen be less as “sources of confusion” to be avoided and more as the “desirable stimulants” that are the essence of creativity.
  • Each episode of confusion can be a portent portion - an "elixir" to be savoured and deeply experienced as something new that can enrich our lives and beckon us towards ever more fruitful innovation and growing resilience.
  • The ubiquitous connectivity we live with today is here for us to embrace, intelligently and more wholesomely. It is a real leveller, community enabler and relationship builder. It does not have to be a rogue unquestioned technological outpouring that is drenching us and all our connected and unsuspecting publics in an accumulating sludge of overstimulated yet unaware insanity. 

In a networked media driven world where uncertainty and change have made diversity, interdependence, inquiry, relationship and collaboration imperatives that are a daily challenge for all of us to contend with, we as coaches and fellow travellers need to question what all these experiences and developments imply for us individually and as a coaching community.

  • Is it time for us to re-examine at least some of our pronouncements, exhortations and beliefs about in this kind of world can be for and about?
  • Could it be that what we do and how we do it needs more fundamentally to be questioned and re-imagined?
  • Is the 21st century in fact already redefining what coaching is and what the coaching role (rightly) entails?

In this afternoon keynote speech Anthony Kasozi reflects on experiences of complexity and the related questions coaches and clients face in VUCA world.

Drawing on the conversations and experiences he has had with clients and organisations as a Consultant and Executive Coach over the last 25 years he considers the possibilities contexts, clients and experiences are raising for us. Using 4 short stories of complexity, contradiction, connection and collaboration he invites us to consider what we (coaches and clients) might pay want to adapt, enrich or even leave behind, in order to enhance the value and contributions we share with each other in our different settings – through our mutual, increasingly contested and privileged coaching relationships.

14:40 -15:40 Case Study 3:  Leadership circles at Southampton University - Eve Turner, Janice Donaldson & Prof Peter Smith

The challenge at the University of Southampton has been developing widespread authentic leadership in a culture where academic expertise is valued above all else.  The art has been to do this with and through the staff, and to sustain the change. Part of the answer has been to use Leadership Circles based on group coaching principles.  

Leadership Circles were started by Janice at Cadiz Holdings in South Africa around 15 years ago based on the concept of groups of leaders doing group work to help themselves lead.  This has since been used by Janice at Aviva Health and now at the University of Southampton. 

Eve was brought in 3 years ago, as a specialist coach, to further develop the concept and also support the first circle members, which included Peter, to go out and run their own circles, starting a pyramid approach which means more and more staff are involved year-on-year.  Members work on a three stage process of understanding/leading myself, understanding/leading others and understanding the organization.    

Eve has drawn on a number of concepts for the Leadership Circles, combining an approach advocated by Nancy Kline in her work on creating a ‘Thinking Environment©’ with the use of other tools such as Transactional Analysis.  At their heart is the importance of active listening, avoiding interrupting and equality of contribution. Circles mix academics and professional services staff from across the university discussing leadership, drawing on the expertise within the group to solve challenges together and creating networks. As the University faces new challenges, developing a new leadership and management framework, this group coaching process remains at the core, with increasing numbers of staff running them, and using the methods across the university, helping to shift the culture.  An extensive evaluation in February 2016 has shown huge support for the circles – not easy in what is fundamentally a rigorously critical environment!  Participants describe being calmer, more relaxed, changing their behaviour, allowing them time to think and helping them achieve practical outcomes.

In our case study session, we will cover:

  • What the circles are
  • The challenges working within academia including the changing external pressures
  • The pyramid scheme and how it works
  • Running a circle
  • The evaluation to date and how it links to change across the institution

14:40 - 15:40 Workshop 3A:  Gender-Balanced Leadership: Working in Uncertainty - Nicole Berg

This session focuses on the Uncertainty aspect of VUCA, the 4-part framework used by the US military to describe the environment that has been adopted by business and wider society.

Nicole connects the current leadership work of social science researchers John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio, and the leadership work of former US Army Colonel Eric G. Kail. In this comparison, an underlying theme emerges that a significant portion of traits with scientifically validated ‘feminine’ labels are required for working in uncertain environments. Historically, however, workplace environments have been crafted by men, who have absorbed gender norms that are at odds with this new way of working. By identifying and overcoming limiting norms and biases, our clients – both women and men – become better equipped to work in challenging VUCA environments by accessing a fuller, gender-balanced range of traits.

Drawing on her experience in female-led VUCA situations within gender-balanced workplace cultures, particularly former management of an emergency shelter and crisis line for abused women, Nicole contextualises theoretical traits of gender-balanced leadership in uncertainty. Delegates can expect to:

  • Recognise the leadership traits that carry gendered information
  • Understand how gender norms can impact on clients’ presenting and non-presenting traits
  • Employ specific coaching skills to help clients expand, and move agilely within, a full range of traits to optimally work in uncertainty
14:40 - 15:40 Workshop/Research 3B:  If I learn, do we learn? - In challenging times, how individual executive coaching leads to organisation learning - Joy Harcup

What is the return on investment following coaching leaders in an organisation?  Based on published academic research, this session looks at the practical outcomes at an individual and team level of coaching leaders and how this can have a much broader impact than just individual change.  The process is explained by which the individual learning of a leader can translate into collective team change. This is also an opportunity to discuss the cultural and other factors in organisations that support this change and those that prevent long term change. 

16:05 - 17:05 Case Study 4:  South East Coaching & Mentoring Network: an agile approach to coaching supervision - Coral Ingleton & Dena Jones

We all know that coaching supervision is an important part of professional coach practice. However, the reality of providing this in a cost effective way and keeping large groups of coaches engaged can be a challenge!

How do you provide access to good quality supervision for your internal coaches, generate engagement and build traction in the community without busting the budget?  Ring any bells??

Join us and find out about our journey, which was born out of our coaches’ feedback. We will share with you our flexible, accessible and interesting and impactful approach to supervision.

What’s changed for us? One year on, more coaches are accessing supervision, the quality of the supervision experience has substantially improved with all the coaches involved reporting higher levels of confidence and engagement in their coaching work.

16:05 - 17:05 Workshop 4A:  Enabling genius - Myles Downey

Myles’s presentation will cover the key elements of the Enabling Genius Project that he led for three years resulting in the book ‘Enabling Genius – a mindset for the 21st Century’.  The key points of the session are:

  • From efficiency to impact: the shift from the 20th to the 21st Century and the implications for organisations
  • A new meaning for genius that fits with the needs and opportunities of the 21st Century
  • The Pillars of Genius – key steps on the path to genius

The focus of the session is on how one can develop and have greater impact as a coach.

16:05 - 17:05 Workshop 4B:  Eight ways to improvise as a coach - Paul Z Jackson

A skilful coach is improvising all the time.  In this practical, experiential session, you’ll develop the main skills of improvisation, including

  • Presence – the state of being alert in the here and now; avoiding distractions of past and future and of awareness wandering elsewhere
  • Responsiveness – your ability to adapt in the moment to the signals around you
  • Creativity – your ability to come up with something new and useful at just the moment that it is needed

Join Paul Z Jackson, director of The Solutions Focus, the consultancy that originated the OSKAR coaching model.  A well-known trainer of coaches, facilitators and trainers, Paul draws on his latest book, Easy: Your LIFEPASS to Creativity and Confidence, to distil the key learnings from the improvisational mindset.  During this workshop, you’ll pick up exciting new tools, tips and techniques to take away and apply immediately, so that you and your clients get more from every session.

In a VUCA world, not everything goes according to plan.  When preparation is not enough, improvisation comes to the fore.  In times of ambiguity and uncertainty, we rely on our skills of dancing in the moment.  So, if you thought improvisation belonged only on the stage, think again…  

Leaders, change managers, facilitators and OD specialists around the world are applying these techniques to make big differences to organisational performance.  

Paul is the President of the Applied Improvisation Network and his work takes you to those very practical paradoxical places where you need both structure and freedom, planning and instant response, a general awareness and the agility to work with whatever emerges.

‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.’   Charles Darwin

17:10 - 17:25 Keynote 3: The Power of Positive Psychology in a VUCA World - Dr Suzy Green

The closing session aims to provide a brief yet succinct overview of the key theories, models and interventions from the science of positive psychology relevant to coaching in a VUCA world. 

17:30 - 18:30 Coaching at Work Awards and Reception


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