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February 2013


The Importance of Resilience

"The key to winning is poise under stress."

… Paul Brown (1908 - 1991) US football coach 

For the past five years I have participated in an annual worldwide survey of coaches that is conducted by Sherpa Coaching. Coaches, executives, HR and training professionals from 53 countries participated this year making it one of the more extensive surveys of its kind. Respondents to the survey get a copy of the results and I recently received mine.

This year the results of the survey pointed to a stand-out theme centred on the immense pressure felt by people working in organisations. Sherpa Coaching report that there were certain key words that coming up over and over again in the responses - change, complexity, pressure and stress.

This is hardly surprising to many of us in the coaching profession, particularly those of us who do much of our work in organisations. Over and over again, we come across people who spend a large proportion of their time coping with the expectations and seeming chaotic nature of many workplaces leading to a greatly reduced capacity for constructive behaviour and growth.

The issues of rapid change and increasing complexity would no doubt be familiar to many of you. The challenges that arise in addressing those issues are significant.

Let us start with rapid change. More and more organisations are increasingly reactive in their approach. The feedback from focus groups and customer surveys, current profitability and share price are just some of the factors that cause quick reaction and a shift in focus. In order to effectively deal with rapid change, individuals need to be adaptable and potentially learn new techniques and approaches to suit the new circumstances. This requires individuals be very effective learners. Many people are unable to adapt. They seek to implement their existing way of doing things to the changed the situation. In other words, rather than seeking to adapt themselves to the new circumstances, they seek to change the circumstances to fit themselves. In doing so, they hardly adapt at all.

The challenge of complexity is symptomatic of the information age. We have so much data to process that we cannot make sense of it. Our response is to focus on some data and believe that we have a handle on the whole picture. As has been repeatedly shown in research on the subject, we believe we need lots of data to make good decisions yet our inability to process large amounts of data leads us astray resulting in poorer decisions. The irony is the subjects in the research still believe they are making better decisions. The key to dealing with greater complexity lies in our ability to take information and align it with key fundamentals in order to make better sense of things.

When rapid change and increased complexity are coupled with a reduced number of employees and an emphasis on productivity, it is little wonder that individuals feel under pressure and stress, in the form of dystress, emerges. Dystress predisposes us to rely on our coping styles making it much harder to adapt and recognise, let alone deal with, complexity. Our coping styles lead to many of the workplace issues, such as bullying, that seem to show up regularly in the news.

The key to dealing with stress is resilience - the capacity to effectively manage one's way of being and the ability to persevere.

We see people under stress all the time and, indeed, much of my work in recent times has been helping individuals to build their resilience. In my view, resilience is the key. If you cannot be resilient in the face of change, complexity and pressure then you will struggle to adapt; leading to more dystress. Resilience is built from self-awareness and strategies to recognise when we are moving into our coping styles and how to address that.

There are many strategies to building resilience but they all spring from awareness. If you would like to find out more on how to build resilience, then write to us at info@talkingabout.com.au and we can start the conversation.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.

Pause for Possibility

"There is nothing more demoralizing than sudden, overwhelming disillusionment."

… Dorothy Thompson (1894 - 1961) US journalist and writer

Given our topic this month, we would like to invite you to reflect on the stress levels in your world.

  • Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed or out of control?
  • How do you know that?
  • What do you do when you feel like that? What strategies do you employ?
  • What is one thing you enjoy that you can do and will help you feel more in control of your world?

We invite you to give this more than just a cursory response. Many stressed people do not recognise that they are in dystress. You may be one of them. Good luck and write to us if you want to explore your answers further!

If you want to pause for more possibilities, you are invited to check out the Pause for Possibilities Project where Jacqui does a wonderful job of speaking to the "challenges of technology"!


Webinar: The Coaching Leader

An Invitation

TCLWe are happy to report the success of The Coaching Leader webinar on hr.com with nearly 200 people attending. We are aware that a number of people who wanted to attend were not able to do so either because of the timing of the webinar or the challenge in signing up through hr.com.

As a result, we are pleased to announce that we are running this webinar again at 8:00am (AEDT) on Friday 15th March. This webinar is free and will be followed up on Wednesday 3rd April with a panel discussion on the subject that is also free of charge.

The idea is to give you some insights into how to bring a coaching approach to leadership, give you some time to engage in a practice and then come back into a conversation that will allow you to explore your own situations in more depth.

One of the hallmarks of a coach is their ability to build their own resilience and this will form part of these online interactions. So if our article this month resonated with you then please join us and find out more.

Click here to find out more about the webinar and also to register.


The Monthly Diversion

This month a little food humour from our friends at Funny Clean Jokes...

The Potatoes

Boy Potato and Girl Potato had eyes for each other. When they were old enough, they got married and had a little sweet potato they called "Yami."

As all parents do, they wanted the best for little Yami. When the time was right, they told her the facts of life.

They warned her not to go out with her friends and get half-baked because she might get mashed and earn a bad name for herself, like "Hot Potato," then end up with a bunch of Tater Tots.

Yami told them not to worry. She wouldn't let any spud take advantage and make a rotten potato out of her. But on the other hand, she didn't plan to sit at home and become a couch potato, either. She would make sure that she got plenty of exercise and not be too skinny like her shoestring cousins.

Before heading off to Europe, Mr. and Mrs. Potato warned Yami to watch out for the hard boiled guys in Ireland and the greasy guys in France, those French fries.

When she returned from Europe and headed out west, her parents warned her to watch out for the Indians so she wouldn't get scalloped. Yami assured them that she would stick to the straight and narrow and not associate with those snooty Yukon Golds.

Yami attended PU (Potato University). When she graduated, she was really in the chips.

One day, Yami came home and announced that she was going to marry Eddie McGuire. Mr. and Mrs. Potato were quite upset. They told her she couldn't possibly marry Eddie McGuire because he was just a … COMMON TATER.


"Change can either challenge or threaten us. Your beliefs pave your way to success or block you."

… Marsha Sinetar, US writer

Talking About Coach Training

The Coaching Leader

ANZIOur coach training program is not just for people wanting to become a professional coach. Currently, there is a very strong focus on leaders as coaches and this program is ideal for anyone who wants to move beyond the surface approach of attending a training session or two and dive into the depths to develop a highly constructive leadership style.

There are three obvious challenges for leaders in today's organisation:

Engagement, Accountability and Productivity.

A constructive leadership style leads to the creation and maintenance of willing followers. To do so, requires the application of the "Leadership Cycle". Based on Talking About's effective conversation model, the Leadership Cycle is focused on creating engagement and generating and managing commitments to ensure accountability. This leads to greater productivity and achievement demonstrating the value of the shared meaning and thereby closing the loop. Without this closure, leaders may be able to initially create willingness in their followers but struggle to maintain it. There are many parallels between coaching and leadership. Effective coaching requires high levels of trust, so does effective leadership. Effective coaching involves a good understanding of the human condition, so does effective leadership. Effective coaching involves a high level of expertise in communicating with others, so does leadership. The key difference between good leadership and good coaching lies in whose agenda is the most important. For a coach, it is their client's agenda. For leaders, it is their own agenda balanced to some degree with that of their followers. If you are someone who is attracted to the idea of leading others through the use of coaching techniques, then we can tailor the program to suit those needs. If you wish to undertake our Professional Coach Program with a view to becoming a "Coaching Leader", in addition to learning the ontological coaching skills and having the opportunity to gain a Professional Certification through ANZI Coaching, you will also learn how to be a constructive leader through:

  1. An understanding of the Human Synergistics circumplex and how this relates to leadership;
  2. A deeper understanding of how to create authority through trust and its role in influencing others;
  3. The differences between leading and managing people; and
  4. An understanding of the "Leadership Cycle" and how your patterns of being and conversation can support and nourish this cycle.

Finally, one of the great benefits of undertaking our program is that, in addition to all the learning, you get your own coach for the period of your enrolment in the program. Added together, we believe that this program can be the ideal way to develop you as a "coaching leader".

We are very proud of our program and the quality of the graduates we produce. So if you are interested in finding out more then we invite you to visit our web site or write to us at info@talkingabout.com.au.

Something New

Starting soon, we are going to offer the opportunity to be part of some online conversations to learn more about the ontological approach and its application.

We are currently establishing a series of newsletters that cover the basics of the ontological approach to coaching. Following each newsletter, we will host complimentary panel conversations for people who are interested in exploring these ideas beyond what is written. We are also looking at hosting further weekly conversations where we look at how those ideas apply to the areas of accountability, leadership and transformation. Places in these conversations will be limited as we want those involved to be able to actively participate in the conversation.

More details to follow...

Join Us Online

Do you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn or Facebook group depending on your preference and share any insights you may have. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here or on Facebook by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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